Known as the “meat-eating bull”, this gnarly beast was lightly built, quick and deadly. The only known carnivorous bipedal with horns, the Carnotaurus belonged to the family Abelisauridae, a group of dinosaurs that occupied the predatorial niche in the now broken up continent of Gondwana.

Key Facts

Carnotaurus pronunciationKAR-NOH-TORE-US
What does Carnotaurus mean?Carnivorous bull
Dinosaur typeTheropod
On the menuCarnivorous
Length7.6 meters (24 feet)
Height3m (9 feet)
Weight1400-2100 kg (about 4600 lbs)
Life expectancy20+ years
Legs used to get aroundBipedal
Estimated top speed48-56 km/h (34 mph)
When they livedLate Cretaceous era 70 million years ago
Where they have been found?Argentina

When & Where

In 1984, Argentinian paleontologist José Bonaparte discovered the only known skeleton of the Carnotaurus in South America. The expedition was sponsored by the National Geographic Society. The skeleton was unusually well-preserved and it was decorated with skin impressions. It is now on display in the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences.

Size & Weight

The Carnotaurus was large but lightly built. Though it doesn’t rank among the biggest theropods, the bipedal carnivore is one of the largest abelisaurids unearthed. They were 7 to 8 meters in length and weighed around 1.3 tons, though uncertainty exists due to only one holotype being discovered.

Mobility & Diet

The Carnotaurus’ thigh bone had adapted to withstand high bending moments while running, which paradoxically limited their agility. It’s estimated they had a top speed of around 50 km/h. The distinguishing feature of the Carnotaurus was the unorthodox way their tails were built, providing additional space for locomotor muscles. They mainly fed on large prey, especially sauropods, as evidenced by their jaw structure which enabled a powerful bite in lieu of a quick one.

Interesting Points

  • The Carnotaurus’s arms were even shorter than those of Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  • The species Carnotaurus Sastrei was named after Angel Sastre, the owner of the farm where the holotype skeleton was found.
  • The Carnotaurus lived 70 million years ago in South America.
  • Their diet mainly consisted of very large prey, notably sauropods.
  • They are the only known carnivorous dinosaur to possess horns.