Allosaurus

Revision for “Allosaurus” created on March 12, 2015 @ 17:37:06

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Allosaurus
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[two_third]Allosaurus is a genus of large theropod dinosaur that lived 155 to 150 million years ago during the late Jurassic period (Kimmeridgian to early Tithonian). The name "Allosaurus" means "different lizard". The first fossil remains that can definitely be ascribed to this genus were described in 1877 by paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, and it became known as Antrodemus. As one of the first well-known theropod dinosaurs, it has long attracted attention outside of paleontological circles. Indeed, it has been a top feature in several films and documentaries about prehistoric life. Allosaurus was a large bipedal predator. Its skull was large and equipped with dozens of large, sharp teeth. It averaged 8.5 m (28 ft) in length, though fragmentary remains suggest it could have reached over 12 m (39 ft). Relative to the large and powerful hindlimbs, its three-fingered forelimbs were small, and the body was balanced by a long and heavily muscled tail. It is classified as an allosaurid, a type of carnosaurian theropod dinosaur. The genus has a complicated taxonomy, and includes an uncertain number of valid species, the best known of which is A. fragilis. The bulk of Allosaurus remains have come from North America's Morrison Formation, with material also known from Portugal and possibly Tanzania. It was known for over half of the 20th century as Antrodemus, but study of the copious remains from the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry brought the name "Allosaurus" back to prominence, and established it as one of the best-known dinosaurs. As the most abundant large predator in the Morrison Formation, Allosaurus was at the top of the food chain, probably preying on contemporaneous large herbivorous dinosaurs and perhaps even other predators. Potential prey included ornithopods, stegosaurids, and sauropods. Some paleontologists interpret Allosaurus as having had cooperative social behavior, and hunting in packs, while others believe individuals may have been aggressive toward each other, and that congregations of this genus are the result of lone individuals feeding on the same carcasses. It may have attacked large prey by ambush, using its upper jaw like a hatchet.[/two_third][one_third_last]<div class="yesborder"> <div align="center"><em><strong>Allosaurus</strong></em></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://dinosaurstop.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/allosaurus7.png"><img class="aligncenter wp-image-1277 size-medium" src="http://dinosaurstop.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/allosaurus7-300x144.png" alt="" width="300" height="144" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Clade: <strong><a href="http://dinosaurstop.com/learn/dinosaurs/categories/dinosauria/">Dinosauria</a></strong> Suborder: <strong><a href="http://dinosaurstop.com/learn/dinosaurs/categories/theropoda/">Theropoda</a></strong> Clade: <strong><a href="http://dinosaurstop.com/learn/dinosaurs/categories/carnosauria/">Carnosauria</a></strong></p> <a href="http://dinosaurstop.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Allosaurus_size_comparison.png"><img class="aligncenter wp-image-1278 size-medium" src="http://dinosaurstop.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Allosaurus_size_comparison-300x169.png" alt="" width="300" height="169" /></a> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Size:</strong> 8.5 m (28 ft) long</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Weight:</strong> 2 metric tons</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://dinosaurstop.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/mesozoic_latejurassic.png"><img class="aligncenter wp-image-1218 size-medium" src="http://dinosaurstop.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/mesozoic_latejurassic-300x120.png" alt="" width="300" height="120" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;">When: <strong><a href="http://dinosaurstop.com/learn/dinosaurs/tags/jurassic/">Jurassic Period</a></strong> 155 to 150 million years ago</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://dinosaurstop.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/northamerica_worldmap.jpg"><img class="aligncenter wp-image-327 size-medium" src="http://dinosaurstop.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/northamerica_worldmap-300x132.jpg" alt="" width="300" height="132" /></a>Where: <strong><a href="http://dinosaurstop.com/learn/dinosaurs/tags/north-america/">North America</a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Diet: <strong><a href="http://dinosaurstop.com/learn/dinosaurs/tags/carnivore/">Carnivore</a></strong></p> </div> [/one_third_last]The skull and teeth of Allosaurus were modestly proportioned for a theropod of its size. Paleontologist Gregory S. Paul gives a length of 845 mm (33.3 in) for a skull belonging to an individual he estimates at 7.9 m (26 ft) long. Each premaxilla (the bones that formed the tip of the snout), held five teeth with D-shaped cross-sections, and each maxilla (the main tooth-bearing bones in the upper jaw) had between 14 and 17 teeth; the number of teeth does not exactly correspond to the size of the bone. Each dentary (the tooth-bearing bone of the lower jaw) had between 14 and 17 teeth, with an average count of 16. The teeth became shorter, more narrow, and more curved toward the back of the skull. All of the teeth had saw-like edges. They were shed easily, and were replaced continually, making them common fossils. The skull had a pair of horns above and in front of the eyes. These horns were composed of extensions of the lacrimal bones, and varied in shape and size. There were also lower paired ridges running along the top edges of the nasal bones that led into the horns. The horns were probably covered in a keratin sheath and may have had a variety of functions, including acting as sunshades for the eye, being used for display, and being used in combat against other members of the same species (although they were fragile). There was a ridge along the back of the skull roof for muscle attachment, as is also seen in tyrannosaurids. Inside the lacrimal bones were depressions that may have held glands, such as salt glands. Within the maxillae were sinuses that were better developed than those of more basal theropods such as Ceratosaurus and Marshosaurus; they may have been related to the sense of smell, perhaps holding something like Jacobson's organ. The roof of the braincase was thin, perhaps to improve thermoregulation for the brain. The skull and lower jaws had joints that permitted motion within these units. In the lower jaws, the bones of the front and back halves loosely articulated, permitting the jaws to bow outward and increasing the animal's gape. The braincase and frontals may also have had a joint. Paleontologists accept Allosaurus as an active predator of large animals. There is dramatic evidence for allosaur attacks on Stegosaurus, including an Allosaurus tail vertebra with a partially healed puncture wound that fits a Stegosaurus tail spike, and a Stegosaurus neck plate with a U-shaped wound that correlates well with an Allosaurus snout. Sauropods seem to be likely candidates as both live prey and as objects of scavenging, based on the presence of scrapings on sauropod bones fitting allosaur teeth well and the presence of shed allosaur teeth with sauropod bones. However, as Gregory Paul noted in 1988, Allosaurus was probably not a predator of fully grown sauropods, unless it hunted in packs, as it had a modestly sized skull and relatively small teeth, and was greatly outweighed by contemporaneous sauropods. Another possibility is that it preferred to hunt juveniles instead of fully grown adults. Research in the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century may have found other solutions to this question. Robert T. Bakker, comparing Allosaurus to Cenozoic sabre-toothed carnivorous mammals, found similar adaptations, such as a reduction of jaw muscles and increase in neck muscles, and the ability to open the jaws extremely wide. Although Allosaurus did not have sabre teeth, Bakker suggested another mode of attack that would have used such neck and jaw adaptations: the short teeth in effect became small serrations on a saw-like cutting edge running the length of the upper jaw, which would have been driven into prey. This type of jaw would permit slashing attacks against much larger prey, with the goal of weakening the victim. <a href="http://dinosaurstop.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Allosaurus_SDNHM.jpg"><img class="aligncenter wp-image-1279 size-full" src="http://dinosaurstop.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Allosaurus_SDNHM.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="550" /></a>
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