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Dinosaurs Alive features over 40 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, which are scientifically accurate based on the latest paleontological knowledge. These fascinating specimens were created by the Canadian-based company, Dinosaurs Unearthed. Launched, in 2005, Dinosaurs Unearthed is an innovative traveling exhibition company that creates dynamic, multi-sensory experiences about the fascinating world of dinosaur discovery.
In the deltas and floodplains of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation of the Western Interior Seaway, Albertosaurus was the apex predator of its time.
Perhaps as evidence of pack-hunting, 22 Albertosaurus individuals ranging from six juveniles between the ages of 2 and 11 years of age, seven sub-adults between 12 and 16, eight adults between 17 and 23, and one very old adult estimated to be 28 years of age were found in one location. It has been theorized that the juveniles and adults occupied different niches on the feeding chain and that the fleeter footed juveniles and sub-adults may have driven prey towards the slower, but more powerful, adults.
Name: Allosaurus Juvenile
Studies indicate that Allosaurus juveniles actually had longer leg lengths than sub-adults or adults, which suggests that locomotion and feeding strategies were also different. Unlike the forward-only running indicated in adults, young Allosaurus may have had multi-directional hind limbs and more agile running. This meant juveniles could change direction quicker so they may have been able to pursue small vertebrate prey, but then switched to being a more ambush-type predator as it grew larger.
Allosaurus was the largest North American predator before Tyrannasaurus rex and could reach 30 years of age, being able to reproduce at just 10 years. Like Yangchuanosaurus, it had two ridged crests running along its snout. This may have indicated its good health and breeding potential to prospective mates, but mates needed to be careful because recent research shows Allosaurus interactions with each other were largely aggressive.
Plunging into the river in pursuit of food, much like a modern grizzly bear, Baryonyx used its 12” curved, hook-like claw on its largest digit, or finger, to catch a fish before 96 teeth clamped down on the hapless victim. Or did it hunt stealthily from the bank like a heron or egret do today? Scientists hold differing views, but either way it is known that Baryonyx was one of the few fishermen of the dinosaur world.
With short stubby arms – even shorter than Tyrannosaurus rex – and thick, short stubby horns, Carnotaurus was definitely an odd-looking theropod. Its slender, shallow lower jaw contrasted with its heavy, robust-looking skull while a pair of thick and short stubby horns jutted from the skull above small, forward-facing eyes. The combination of its head and horns suggests that Carnotaurus was capable of hatchet-like attacks, where another skull would not have survived in a head-butting contest.
Ceratopsians are split into two sub-families – those with short frills and those with long frills like Chasmosaurus, which were heart-shaped and very distinct. It has been theorized by some paleontologists that the frills may have been brightly colored in order to draw the attention of a potential mate. Chasmosaurus also have longer faces and jaws than their short-frilled cousins, indicating that they may have subsisted on a different diet while sharing the same ecological niche.
Possessing serrated teeth, a unique foot weapon – a disemboweling 5 inch sickle-shaped claw – and a high ratio between brain size and body weight (suggesting intelligence), the relatively small Deinonychus was a fearsome killer. These features combined with its agility would have made escape difficult if a hunting pack of Deinonychus was after a victim or just one’s hands held the victim down.
New theories indicating likelihood that dromaeosaurid dinosaurs, such as Deinonychus, may have been feathered mean that the image of Deinonychus will need to undergo a radical change.
With the discovery of an almost complete skeleton and skull in 1988, the small and lightly built Herrerasaurus is thought to be close to the ancestry of several major groups of dinosaurs. Although this helped determine it was either a very early theropod or early saurischian (lizard-hipped dinosaur), its pubis is very much like the pelvis of later ornithischians including hadrosaurs, ceratopsians and ankylosaurs.
This Mid-Triassic dinosaur first appeared in a time when dinosaurs were not yet dominant and competed against larger, more powerful animals for food. It most likely captured small animals, including other smaller dinosaurs, through ambush and surprise.
Appearing 20 million years before its better known North American cousin Stegosaurus,
Huayangosaurus is one of the smallest stegosaurids found to date. Its double rows of plates that rose from its back were more spike-like and its skull was broader than Stegosaurus. Curiously, the front of the jaw contains premaxillary teeth which were not present in latter stegosaurs.
Weight: Approximately 2,000lb/907kg/1 ton
Competing for food in the brackish waters of pre-historic Brazil, Irritator may have preyed upon both land and aquatic animals as an opportunistic feeder while its larger cousin, Spinosaurus, did so in northern Africa. Strong neck muscles, nostrils shifted to the rear of the skull, and a secondary palate that allowed for respiration when most of the jaw was under water made this dinosaur unique. If caught in the elongated snout and pointed teeth, escape was unlikely.
The name Irritator derived from paleontologists’ frustration with its skull having been collected, doctored with plaster, and sold by illegal fossil dealers in Brazil.
Height: Approximately 6ft/under 2m
Unearthed in 2010, Kosmoceratops is part of a series of discoveries that have recently expanded the number of species in the ceratopsia (horned-face_ family of herbivorous dinosaurs. With the most ornate skull of any known dinosaur, 10 hooks extending from the short broad neck frill, and 15 horn-like structures, Kosmoceratops is closely allied with Chasmosaurus from Alberta.
Chasmosaurines first appeared in Laramidia around 90 – 80 million years ago and had dispersed around the continent by 77 million years ago, giving rise to later species such as Triceratops.
The discovery of a coffee can full of baby dinosaur bones in a small rock shop in Montana eventually led to the site of a massive nesting colony and the unearthing of a new species, Maiasaura. The nests at Egg Mountain in Montana indicate that they were tightly packed together, signifying congregating or herding which may have offered protection against predators.
The nickname “Caring Mother Lizard” was given when it was discovered that the newly hatched baby hadrosaurs were incapable of leaving the nest in their first month of life as their legs were too wobbly to support their weight. Adults would have brought food to the nests in order for the young to grow and thrive.
Length: Up to 80ft/25m
Discovered during construction of a highway in 1954, Mamenchisaurus is known for its incredibly long neck which made up half of its total body length. The vertebrae in the neck, body and tail were light and hollow, meaning that during feeding the dinosaur most likely stood in one spot with its small head horizontal, sweeping it back and forth while gathering food.
In 2001, more Mamenchisaurus fossils were discovered including four fused vertebrae belonging to the tip of the tail, which indicates the tail’s use as a weapon, similar to other bony tail clubs from the Jurassic Period found in Omeisaurus and Shunosaurus.
Until 2010, specimens of the dinosaur which is now called Mojoceratops were though to be examples of Chasmosaurus. Both dinosaurs sported a distinctive heart-shaped frill, but it was only revealed after closer examination and comparison that not only was the frill of Mojoceratops far more ostentatious than other ceratopsians, but its horns were also longer.
“Mojo” is an early 20th-century African-American term meaning a magic charm or talisman, often used to attract members of the opposite sex. The showy heart-shaped frill undoubtedly attracted a lot of attention in the herd.
Hadrosaurs – divided into the two principal sub-families of hadrosaurines and lambeosaurines – were the most populous group of dinosaurs by the end of the Cretaceous Period, thriving to such an extent that some species are referred to as the “cows of the Cretaceous.” Lambeosaurines, which includes Olorotitan, are the most spectacular due to the radical modification of the nasal cavity and the elaborate hollow crests rising from the skull. Often living in huge herds numbering in the hundreds and thousands, these duck-billed dinosaurs grazed on low-growing vegetation and had no teeth in the front of their beaks, but as many as 960 cheek teeth!
Excavated during the 1999 – 2001 seasons in the Amur Region of the Russian far east, Olorotitan is the most complete hadrosaurs skeleton found outside of North America.
As an early specialized off-shoot of the duck-billed dinosaur group, the most visually distinguishing feature of the Ouranosaurus was the large hump on its back, much like that of a camel or bison. The hump may have had much the same function as well – storing nutrition for use during harsh conditions
The large number of cheek teeth in the sides of the jaw, as well as the shape of the teeth, indicates that the diet of Ouranosaurus consisted of tough plant leaves, fruit and seeds.
Perhaps the most unusual of the ceratopsians, or horned-faced dinosaurs, Pachyrhinosaurus had a thick, bony facial pad instead of a nasal horn. Fossil evidence shows that the frills were highly individualized in size and shape, which was perhaps an indication of gender, family traits or other factors. Protection from predators was enhanced both by herd behavior and the ability to run at up to 20 miles (32 kilometers) per hour!
Remains of a herd of Pachyrhinosaurus have been found at Pipestone Creek, which allows for the enormous potential for investigation into growth rates and changes, sexual dimorphism and even behaviors.
Danger! Run! The calls emitted from the crests of Parasaurolophus warned the others in the herd of the approach of predators. Running was its only natural defense with the ability to move quickly on its two strong hind limbs. When grazing, it could crouch down on all four legs while its duck-like beak’s hundreds of tiny teeth grinded the fibrous conifers and ferns into a digestible pulp.
Name: Ruyangosaurus Giganteous
Length: Over 99ft/30.1m
Height: Over 30ft/9.1m
Weight: Over 187,300lb/85,000kg
Unearthed in 2007 and described in 2009, Ruyangosaurus replaced Huanghetitan (found in the same location in 2006) as the largest Cretaceous sauropod yet discovered in Asia.
A sauropod of the titanosaur group, Ruyangosaurus had a shorter neck and tail than earlier Jurassic sauropods like Omeisaurus and Mamenchisaurus. The broader chest and slimmer hip area meant that titanosaurs like Ruyangosaurus presented a much different physical appearance than earlier sauropods. The flexible spinal column also meant that the dinosaur could possibly rear on its hind limbs. Like many titanosaurs, the skin of Ruyangosaurus was armored – covered in small bead-like scales.
Living in the tidal flats and channels of northern Africa, Spinosaurus was likely an eater of fish, although it may have scavenged carrion if the opportunity arose. The long, narrow snout and the unserrated, straight teeth – 12 on each side of the upper jaw – are comparable to Irritator.
Noted for the long neural spines on its back, which made it one of the largest theropods of the Cretaceous, the skin sail or jump may have been used for energy storage, courtship displays or regulation of heat.
Name: Stegosaurus Juvenile
Weight: 15,000lb/6,818kg as an adult
Trackways of Stegosaurus show that it was a herd animal with all ages of animals living together. This herd mentality would have offered protection from predators to the vulnerable, smaller juveniles. While a juvenile Stegosaurus possessed all the same physical features of an adult in a smaller scale, it is not possible that it would have been able to defend itself from Allosaurus, the apex predator of its time.
The tail spikes of Stegosaurus were certainly used for defense against Allosaurus! Fossil evidence shows a punctured Allosaurus tail vertebra into which a Stegosaurus tail spike fitted perfectly.
Size Length: 30ft/9m
Whether battling one of its own kind or a predator, Stegosaurus could swing the two pairs of spikes (each up to 4 feet long) projecting from its tail as an awesome defensive weapon. The 17 bony dorsal plates arranged alternately along its spine may have acted like armor, been a mating display, helped to regulate heat or all of the above. These plates may have made Stegosaurus look larger to its enemy and therefore discouraged attack.
Although lacking spikes or armor, an adult Tenontosaurus would not have been easy prey for a predator like Deinonychus. It was large enough to break the bones of a smaller predator!
Tenontosaurus had an unusually long, broad tail and a stiffened back with a network of bony tendons – hence the name Sinew Lizard. Browsing on low-growing vegetation, the powerful beak and angled cutting surfaces of its teeth meant that Tenontosaurus could consume not only leaves but wood and possibly fruit.
Weight: Up to 22,000lb/10,000kg
Triceratops was no gentle, plant-eating giant. Many fossil records show damage to Triceratops bones which could have occurred in combat with other Triceratops or predators. The horns of a Triceratops could be used as weapons, displays of domination to other Triceratops, or mating displays. The neck frill would have offered some protection against the bite of the Tyrannosaurus rex and perhaps would have regulated body temperature.
Name: Tyrannosaurus Rex Sub-Adult
Length: Over 40ft/13m
Height: 13ft/4m (at the hips)
Weight: 14,000lb/6,000kg as an adult
Did Tyrannosaurus rex live in a family group? Or have discoveries of groups of T. rex fossils varying in ages from juvenile to very senior adult tell us something different? It’s impossible to know, but what’s interesting is that T. rex was not the solitary, lone wolf predator stalking the landscape as has often been depicted.
The fossil evidence indicates that individuals must have come together and that young T. rex engaged in the type of inter-species face biting play which may have passed a parasitic infection, now seen in modern raptors such as hawks and falcons, to other members of the group.
Name: Tyrannosaurus Rex
Length: Over 40ft/13m
Height: 13ft/4m (at the hips)
As the last great carnivore of the Cretaceous Period, Tyrannosaurus rex was an efficient killing machine stalking the North American landscape. With a specially strengthened nose structure that enabled it to deliver bone splintering, crushing bites to both captured prey and during combat with others of its species, a Tyrannosaurus rex lower jaw could deliver 10,000 newtons of force – the equivalent of being able to lift a semi-trailer.
Fossil evidence confirms, as depicted in popular culture, that T. rex and adult Triceratops did encounter each other from time to time and, perhaps surprisingly, Triceratops was not always the unlucky end meal.
The skull of this dinosaur is typical of the large meat-eaters of the Late Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods – long, flat and heavy with jaws full of sharp teeth. Since its teeth were plentiful, but not large, we suspect Yangchuanosaurus also used its massive claws to slash and tear its prey. Once its victim was down, Yangchuanosaurus used its blade-like teeth to slice through large chunks of flesh.