FROM THE EDUCATION DESK
Acrocanthosaurus was a carnivore living in the Early Cretaceous period and which inhabited North America between 125 and 100 million years ago. Fossils of this dinosaur have been found in Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming and Arkansas.
Teeth attributed to Acrocanthosaurus have been found as far east as Maryland. Nineteen curved, serrated teeth lined each side of the upper jaw, but a tooth count for the lower jaw has not been published yet. Skeletal remains found have a very high ridge of dorsal vertebrae along the spine which is Acrocanthosaurus most notable feature. The name is derived from these dorsal vertebrae which means“high-spined lizard”. Scientists believe that the spine or the ridge was responsible for supporting a muscle ridge over the neck, back and hips of the animal. Some also believe that these neural spines may also have served as a sexual display while others think that the ridge may have served the purpose of fat storage or body temperature control.
Acrocanthosaurus is often portrayed in art as similar to the Allosaurus dinosaur. It was a massive dinosaur and the largest theropod in the ecosystem. It was over 40 feet long and could weigh as much as 6 tons with a large skull that was about 4.4 feet in length. The skull was long, low and narrow. It was bipedal and had very powerful jaws and legs. The shoulders and forelimbs of the animal, which were very strong, never made contact with the ground and never aided in locomotion. They were quite stiff with lots of cartilage and with limited motion. It is believed that they were primarily for predatory functions. The olfactory bulbs of this dinosaur were large which would indicate that it had a very well-developed sense of smell. The long heavy tail counterbalanced the head and body, maintaining its center of gravity over its hips. Each of the hands had three clawed digits. Unlike many smaller fast running dinosaurs, its femur was longer than its tibia and metatarsals, suggesting that Acrocanthosaurus was not a fast runner. Its feet had four digits each.
It was discovered in 1950 by American paleontologists J. Willis Stovall and Wann Langston, Jr.
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