Carnotaurus was a lightly built, bipedal predator, measuring 7.9 to 9.1 m (26 to 30 ft) in length and weighing at least 1.35 metric tons (1.33 long tons; 1.49 short tons). As a theropod, Carnotaurus was highly specialized and distinctive. It had thick horns above the eyes, a feature unseen in all other carnivorous dinosaurs, and a very deep skull sitting on a muscular neck. Carnotaurus was further characterized by small, vestigial forelimbs and long and slender hindlimbs. The skeleton is preserved with extensive skin impressions, showing a mosaic of small, non-overlapping scales measuring approximately 5 mm in diameter. The mosaic was interrupted by large bumps that lined the sides of the animal, and there are no hints of feathers.
The distinctive horns and the muscular neck may have been used in fighting conspecifics. According to separate studies, rivaling individuals may have combated each other with quick head blows, by slow pushes with the upper sides of their skulls, or by ramming each other head-on, using their horns as shock absorbers. The feeding habits of Carnotaurus remain unclear: some studies suggest the animal was able to hunt down very large prey such as sauropods, while other studies find it preyed mainly on relatively small animals. Carnotaurus was well adapted for running and was possibly one of the fastest large theropods.
Carnotaurus was a large theropod and one of the largest abelisaurs, about 8–9 meters in length, and between 2-3 tons in weight. Abelisaurids have odd features in their heads, as Carnotaurus had two large brow horns over its eyes, while its smaller relative Majungasaurus had highly bizarre looking knobs on its head.
Front limbs morphology
Abelisaurids also have very reduced forelimbs with four or five fingers. In particular, the arms of Carnotaurus, when compared to their body size,were far smaller than even than those of Tyrannosaurus and were completely useless, and possibly the smallest forelimbs in whole animal kingdom compared to body mass. Hands of this creature had four very small fingers, and only two of them actually had bones!
Skull and jaws
Carnotaurus had one of most bizarre skulls among the dinosaur world. He had big bony bumps, morphologically similar to horns of the modern bull above the orbital openings. It's likely that he didn't use them to fight, because they were really small and blunt, so they cannot leave any serious damage. He perhaps used these bumps to attract mate during the mating season.
Skull was also very light built, with large preorbital opening. Some paleontologists think this large opening may have cooled Carnotaurus' skull or blood. Shape of skull itself was very strange, too. Skull was relatively thin and flattened from the sides, allowing animal to move head very quick and possible even attack during running.
Carnotaurus had a very big postorbital area of skull, allowing him to bite very strong. According to paleontologist Robert Bakker, so-called "rottweiler effect" makes an animal's bite powerful. The "rottweiler effect" is especially large back part of the skull (postorbital area) where jaw muscles are located. The bigger the postorbital area - the stronger the bite force. Also, Carnotaurus' teeth are very unique design - they were very wide, and relatively blunt, resembling the railroad spike. These teeth are very suitable for crushing bone, making this carnivore's bite enormously lethal.
His relatively large eyes were positioned right at the front of the skull, giving him binocular and tro-dimensional vision, what's pretty unusual in Dinosauria.
Skin and feathers
A single nearly complete skeleton has been described, including a large skin print on the right side of the specimen, close to the spine, showing us much about its skin. However, it mustn't mean this dinosaur wasn't covered in feathers. Perhaps it's only upper part of the body scaled, making some kind of armor, but the other parts of the body might be covered in primitive protofetahers. Protofeather imprints were found on fossilized "buttprint" of one of most primitive Ceratosaurs, Dilophosaurus, what may mean all Ceratosaurids actually had feathers.
The type species Carnotaurus sastrei is the only known species, though it is related to other Abelisaurids from Madagascar, Argentina, India, and North Africa.
In Popular Culture
- Carnotaurus appeared in the novel The Lost World by Michael Crichton (1995) as a color-changing chameleon-like dinosaur, but this ability is purely speculative. It also appeared in a level of the video game adaptation of the film.
- Carnotaurus was set to make an appearance in the movie Jurassic Park /// as the dinosaur approaching the characters as they search for a cellular phone within giant heaps of Spinosaurus dung. However this was changed to a Ceratosaurus. There were rumors that it will appear in Jurassic Park IV, but it did not appear.
- At Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park, guests who ride "Dinosaur" (an attraction very loosely based on the Disney
feature Dinosaur) are menaced by a large AudioAnimatronic "Carnotaurus", among other creatures.
- In the Capcom game Dino Crisis 3, a Carnotaur pair gets brutally murdered by a savage, gigantic, black Tyrannosaurus, acting like a comeback after the T. rex's grizzly demise by a Giganotosaurus in Capcom's Dino Crisis 2.
- Carnotaurus appears in Zoo Tycoon 2: Dino Danger Pack. It is also present in Zoo Tycoon 2: Extinct Animals.
- It can be created from DNA in Jurassic Park Park Builder.
- It appears in the science fiction movie Raptor Island as the predator of the Raptors.
- Carnotaurus also appears in the 2011 series Terra Nova as a predator of humans.
- Carnotaurus was made popular by the 2000 Walt Disney movie Dinosaur, where two of the theropods (likely male and female) were the main antagonists as they hunted down the main protagonists while they journied to the Nesting Grounds (originally this was supposed to have been Tyrannosaurus rex, but at the last minute they were replaced by Carnotaurus, who were also inaccurately shown to have been T. rex-sized).
- A Carnotaurus appears in Life After Dinosaurs where it is inaccurately shown as a predator of Edmontonia (which lived in North America) and Saltasaurus.
- Carnotaurus appears in Bizarre Dinosaurs, where they talk about how strange this theropod looked.
- It can be a playable dinosaur in the online game Primal Carnage.
- Carnotaurus also has a main role in the animated film Turok: Son of Stone.
- Carnotaurus stars in the 2013 Asylum film Age of Dinosaurs filling a similar role for the Raptors of Jurassic Park.
Dino Wars; by Jinny Johnson, consulted by Michael J. Benton
The Audubon Society Pocket Guides Familiar Dinosaurs; by Alfred A. Knopf.