Dinosaurs are definitely interesting to learn about and the Acrocanthosaurus is no different. First of all, it’s pronounced ACK-roe-CANTH-oh-SORE-us. This mighty therapod (meaning it belonged to a group of bidpedal meat-eaters) weighed heavier than an African Elephant and was over four car links long. This means it weighed in as much as six tons and was over forty feet long! It lived about forty-five million years before the famous T-Rex, or about a hundred and fifteen million years ago, during the Early Cretaceous Period. The more scientists learn about this dinosaur, the more we can know as well. Here’s 10 fun facts you didn’t know about the Acrocanthosaurus.
1. Big and Deadly
The Acrocanthosaurus may not be very well known to the public at large, but it was not only as big as more familiar dinosaurs, such as the T-Rex, but it was also just as deadly. Being as big as it was and having a huge head – about four and half feet long- gave this big guy a size advantage which would have allowed him to successfully attack and eat some very large herbivores. This dinosaur probably had no problem staying fed.
2. “High Spine Lizard”
If you’re wondering how this ancient carnivore got his name, it’s because of the very large vertebrae segments this dinosaur was found to have. It had seventeen inch spikes along it’s back, called neural spines, traveling from its neck all the way to its tail. It may bring to mind the image of present day iguana’s, but this beast was no mere lizard!
3. Hey, Big Boy
Although it’s not really known what these neural spines on the Acrocanthosaurus’ back were for, it’s believed that they may have had something to do with the selection process when it came to mating. If so, the males who had the biggest spikes would have gotten more females. However, some believe they may have been used as a signaling device for the rest of the heard. Perhaps when prey was approaching, the structures would flush a different color to let the others know food was near. Other scientists believe the ridge these neural spines formed may have served to control body temperature or store fat. Whatever they were used for, they probably made these guys look even more intimidating than they already were!
4. State Dinosaur
Because the Acrocanthosaurus was first discovered in Atoka County in Oklahoma during the 1940s, they declared it to be the state’s official dinosaur in 2006, even though the state already had an official fossil. Nonetheless, it’s important to mention that this first discovery was not only ignored, but largely forgotten until nearly a decade later when Wann Langston and J Willis Stovall rediscovered the species when they found one of its extremely large vertebrae segments.
5. Native to the US
Yes, this mighty beast once lived in the United States. Evidence of this species has not only been discovered in Oklahoma, where it was originally found, but it’s also been found in Texas as well. As a matter of fact, the Glen Rose Formation is an awesome set of footprints stretching across the state. It’s thought that these tracks are a record of a pack of hungry Acrocanthosaurus’ stalking a herd of sauropod. It’s really mind-boggling to think that dinosaurs really ran around Texas hunting down food!
6. What a Smell!
The Acrocanthosaurus had an incredible smell. No, we don’t mean that the creature had a bad smell; what we mean is that he had an amazingly well-developed sense of smell. This was due to the fact that their olfactory bulbs were large. What this means is that there was probably no hiding from this big guy once he caught a prey’s scent.
7. Little Bitty Arms
Unfortunately for the Acrocanthosaurus, his arms were stunted and would have had a very limited range of motion. They probably rarely made contact with the ground and they didn’t help with locomotion. However, what they would have been good at was pulling things, namely prey, towards the dinosaur’s torso. This find makes scientists believe that these killing machines would attack prey from behind, sinking its claws into them, and pulling them closer for a nice bite.
8. Chin Down
It would have been hard for this dinosaur to keep his “chin up” considering the shape of its inner ear. Because this is what helps keep the creatures balanced, the shape of his inner ear suggests that this particular dinosaur kept the tip of its snout pointed at a twenty-five degrees downward angle rather than up or straight ahead. With it’s keen sense of smell, perhaps it was the dinosaur version of a bloodhound sniffing the ground to track prey.
9. S-shaped Brain
Yes, it may sound completely insane, but the Acrocanthosaurus’ brain is one of the few dinosaur brains that is known, thanks to an endocast of a skull. The computed tomography of this predator’s brain shows that it was roughly the shape of an S and, again, that it had prominent olfactory lobes, which would have attributed to its keen sense of smell.
10. Expensive Dinosaur
Of course, you wouldn’t expect dinosaur remains to be cheap, but according to reports, the cost has become absurdly expensive over the last twenty-five years. A T-Rex, which was ninety percent complete, went of almost eight and a half million dollars back in 1997 at an auction. Not long after, a marvelous Acrocanthosaurus originally discovered in Oklahoma was bought by the Museum of Natural Science in North Carolina for a cool three million dollars. If you’re wanted one for your own private collection, you may just have to settle for a picture!