The Acrocanthosaurus was a huge carnivorous dinosaur from the carcharodontosaurid family, which also included giants such as the Gigantosaurus and Tyrannotitan. It lived during the Upper Cretaceous period, about 115 million years ago, in what is now North America. Previously mistaken for the Spinosaurus due to its similar spine structure, the Acrocanthosaurus was one of the most feared predators of its time.

Key Facts

Acrocanthosaurus pronunciationAh-kroh-kan-tho-sore-us
What does Acrocanthosaurus mean?High-spined Lizard
Dinosaur typeTheropod
On the menuCarnivorous
Length12 meters
Height5 meters
Weight2.5 tons
Life expectancy70-80 years
Legs used to get aroundBipedal
Estimated top speed40 km/h (25 mph)
When they livedUpper Cretaceous, 115 million years ago
Where they have been found?USA, North America

When & Where

The first Acrocanthosaurus fossils were discovered in Oklahoma, United States, in the 1940s. It was not until 1950 that paleontologists J. Willis Stovall and Wann Langston Jr. formally described and named the Acrocanthosaurus. Since then, many more complete fossils have been found in various parts of the US, probing further into the life of this fascinating dinosaur.

The most outstanding Acrocanthosaurus fossil discovery was made in the Antler Formation of Oklahoma in the 1990s. This fossil (“nicknamed Fran”) was almost complete and provided a wealth of information regarding the Acrocanthosaurus. It had tall neural spines, about 17 inches (43 cm) tall, which distinguished it from other theropods of its time.

Size & Weight

The Acrocanthosaurus was a large theropod, measuring up to 12 meters (39 feet) in length and weighing around 2.5 metric tons. It was slightly smaller than its close relative, the Gigantosaurus, but it was still one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs to have ever lived.

Mobility & Diet

As a theropod, the Acrocanthosaurus was a bipedal dinosaur, meaning it walked on two legs. It is thought that the Acrocanthosaurus could run at speeds of up to 40 km/h (25 mph).

The Acrocanthosaurus was a carnivore and would have hunted and scavenged for food. It had sharp teeth and powerful jaws, which it used to tear its prey apart. It is thought that the Acrocanthosaurus primarily hunted large Sauropods, and evidence of its teeth marks have been found on the bones of Sauropods such as the Tenontosaurus and Sauroposeidon.

Interesting Points

  • The Acrocanthosaurus has been featured in various media, including books, television shows, and video games. It was even featured in the 1993 film, Jurassic Park III.
  • The spines on the Acrocanthosaurus‘ back formed a ridge that ran from the back of its head to the end of its tail. This ridge was used for display to make the Acrocanthosaurus look larger and more intimidating to potential rivals or predators.
  • Today, fossils of the Acrocanthosaurus are on display at the Museum of Natural History in North Carolina, USA.
  • Despite their similarities in appearance, the Acrocanthosaurus lived 45 million years before its distant relative, the T. rex.

Featured Image Credit: Mariolanzas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons