Acrocanthosaurus skeleton

Acrocanthosaurus

Dinosaurs

Acrocanthosaurus

Acrocanthosaurus(meaning high-spined lizard) is a genus of theropod dinosaur that existed in what is now North America during the Aptian and early Albian stages of the EarlyCretaceous. Like most dinosaur genera, Acrocanthosauruscontains only a single species,A. atokensis. Its fossil remains are found mainly in the U.S. states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming, although teeth attributed toAcrocanthosaurushave been found as far east as Maryland.

Acrocanthosaurus was a bipedal predator. As the name suggests, it is best known for the high neural spines on many of its vertebrae, which most likely supported a ridge of muscle over the animals neck, back and hips. Acrocanthosaurus was one of the largest theropods, reaching 11.5 m (38 ft) in length, and weighing up to 6.2 tonnes (6.8 short tons). Large theropod footprints discovered in Texas may have been made by Acrocanthosaurus, although there is no direct association with skeletal remains.

Recent discoveries have elucidated many details of its anatomy, allowing for specialized studies focusing on its brain structure and forelimb function. Acrocanthosaurus was the largest theropod in its ecosystem and likely an apex predator which preyed on sauropods, ornithopods, and ankylosaurs.

Acrocanthosauruswas big for its time, 柑 family trait that is shared with 毗ome other carcharodontosaurids such asCarcharodontosaurusandGiganotosaurus. 括t 枸leven and a half 柒eters,倦括crocanthosauruswould have been the largest predator of its time and locale. 施ts diet as a result probably consisted of hadrosaurs and smaller sauropods, 查inosaurs that were large enough to provide sufficient sustenance, 洲hile being too slow to escape. 昤tudy of the area that the mainAcrocanthosaurusremains come from suggest that it was probably the apex predator of its location, 洲ith most other predators such asDeinonychusbeing much smaller.

The skull of Acrocanthosaurus featured large fenestra, 柑 necessary adaptation to reduce the weight of its huge skull that could approach up to a 殃ne hundred and thirty centi柒eters long. 曷he teeth of Acrocanthosaurus were curved and serrated like other members of the carcharodontosaurid group. 曷he maxilla and premaxilla contained 柑 total of around thirty-eight teeth. 曷he teeth in the lower jaw are generally smaller than those above and can approach up to thirty in number. 括nother carcharodontosaurid trait is the bony brow ridge above the eye, 柏ormed by the lacrimal and postorbital bones coming together.

Acrocanthosaurus-on-the-move
Artist's impression of a pair of Acrocanthosaurs on the move.

Computer reconstruction of the inner ear has shown that the 毒esting position凌 殃f the head of Acrocanthosaurus was twenty-five degrees below zero horizontal. 曷his may give the impression that  Acrocanthosaurus  usually walked around looking slightly towards the ground.

Reconstruction of an Acrocanthosaurus forelimb suggests that there would have been large amounts of cartilage between the bones. 曷his comes from the fact that bones themselves do not make perfect joints and would need the extra cartilage in order to articulate properly. 曷he arms of Acrocanthosaurus did not have a huge range of motions. 曷he arm could not fully extend and could only manage limited flexing. 曷he humerus could retract back quite away, 柑s if Acrocanthosaurus was pulling something towards its chest. 括s is commonly seen in larger theropods, 氟he fore arm could not twist like a human arm can. 柱hen at rest the arms would have faced medially inwards, 柝ike when you clap your hands together.  括crocanthosaurus had three digits on the end of its arms with the first and second claws probably being permanently flexed. 曷he third and smallest claw may have been able to retract as well.

Altogether, 括crocanthosaurus may have grabbed large prey such as sauropods like Paluxysaurus with its jaws and then latched onto it with its claws. 茅he neck vertebrae also interlocked together for greater rigidity which means that Acrocanthosauruscould hold onto large prey with its jaws without sustaining injury to the neck. 昭ighter prey such as ornithopod dinosaurs like Tenontosaurus may have been pulled towards  Acrocanthosaurus while it continued to work with its jaws, 洲hereas it would probably have to pull itself onto heavier prey. 括lternatively it may have held its prey with its jaws while repeatedly slashing at it with its claws, 氟he more the prey struggled, 氟he worse its wounds became.

One usual feature of Acrocanthosaurus is the large neural spines on the vertebrae of the neck, back, hips and upper tail. It is not thought that it had a sail on its back like Spinosaurus (which was unrelated, and had much larger neural spines), but rather it is thought the spines had attachments for powerful muscles, similar to those found in modern bison. Its not entirely clear what the purpose of these spines and muscles were possibilities include fat storage, communication, or temperature regulation.

Acrocanthosaurus was a carnivore, but is not believed to have been a fast runner. Its forelimbs and shoulders are also unusual, and seem to have been very strong, had lots of cartilage, but been quite stiff with very limited movement. It is thought that the forelimbs hung down and inwards, and would not have been used for seizing prey. Acrocanthosaurus may instead have seized prey with its jaws, and used its forelimbs to prevent the prey escaping. It is also possible that Acrocanthosaurus may have held the prey in its jaws, and used the claws in its forelimbs to tear gashes into the prey.

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