Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Reptilia
Subclass Diapsida
Superorder Dinosauria
Order Saurischia
Suborder Theropoda
Superfamily Abelisauroidea
Family Abelisauridae
Subfamily Carnotaurinae
Genus Carnotaurus
1st Species Carnotaurus sastrei
Other attributes
Time Range 72-69.9 mya
Location Argentina
Name Meaning Meat(-eating) bull
Physical Dimensions 7.8 meters long
Weight 1.7 tonnes
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Carnotaurus is an abelisaurid theropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Argentina. It was named in 1985 by José Fernando Bonaparte. It was a unique dinosaur, as it had two large horns above its head, its jaws were flexible, and it was possibly adapted for a cursorial (fast-running) lifestyle.


Carnotaurus was a strange theropod; like all other theropods, it had a semi-bulky body, moderately long legs, and a long tail. However, it also had a few unique traits, such as extremely small and stubby arms (even smaller than those of Tyrannosaurus) with 4 short, clawless fingers on each hand, a moderately long neck, and a small head with a short snout, large jaws, forward-facing eye sockets (allowing for binocular vision), and a pair of horns above its eyes. Its body would have been covered in bumpy, scaly skin.


Carnotaurus was a predator, preying on lizards, small mammals, small ornithischians, and small sauropods. Its teeth were longer and more slender than those of other abelisaurs, and were simply designed for bruising the flesh of a prey item as the theropod repeatedly bit it; as well as this, it had many loose joints on its skull, which would have moved about when it was biting on prey.


Due to Carnotaurus' incredibly well-developed caudofemoralis (muscle that connects the femur and the tail), it was able to move at extremely high speeds, and it is often considered to be the fastest predatory theropod; however, these adaptations also rendered it unable to turn properly when running, as its tail was unable to bend to make sharp turns, and could only be swung from the hip. As well as this, the use of the large horns atop Carnotaurus' head has been open to debate for a long time, with many theories including being used as a weapon for intraspecific head-butting or head-pushing contests, a battering ram for felling large herbivores, or just a display feature; today, the most widely accepted theory is that it was used for intraspecific combat, as the large horns and the moderately long neck were great at absorbing large impacts. In comparison to its deep skull, its lower jaw was thin and weakly-built, and so, its jaws may have been used for quick, repeated bites (as opposed to crushing, slicing, lacerating, or gripping); as well as this, its had many joints in its skull (especially in its lower jaw), allowing it to swallow prey whole. When hunting, Carnotaurus would rush up to a small animal before biting down on it, with its teeth projecting forward to spike it, and as the snout rotated downward and the anterior (front) portion of the jaw rotated upwards, the teeth would project backwards to prevent prey from escaping; although scientists agree that it often ate smaller animals, whether it was able to prey on larger dinosaurs is up to debate.

In popular cultureEdit

Carnotaurus was first introduced to the public in the 1995 novel The Lost World, where it was depicted as a nocturnal predator capable of changing the color of its scales in a similar manner to a chameleon (although it did so to blend in with its environment rather than reflect its mood); on the other hand, this was acknowledged to be creative license by the author. 5 years later, it would make another grand appearance in Disney's Dinosaur, where it would be featured as a titanic, horned, Tyrannosaurus-like monster capable of grabbing a 5-tonne Iguanodon with its jaws and tossing it around like a ragdoll; this was because it was meant to be a direct replacement to the Tyrannosaurus (which was deemed to be too overused and dull). After a while, it made another appearance in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, where it was shown as a belligerent carnivore ready to fight anything nearby; its biggest moment in the film featured it picking a fight with a Sinoceratops (and losing) before charging at a group of humans and subsequently getting mauled to death by a Tyrannosaurus; fortunately, however, this is not the only scene that shows it doing something special.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.