10 Horned Facts About Carnotaurus

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Cheer up, Argentina! You may have lost the World Cup, but today, we’re honoring one of your coolest-looking dinosaurs. How’s that for a consolation prize?

1. Carnotaurus’ Name Means “Meat-Eating Bull.”

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To date, Carnotaurus sastrei—which roamed Argentinian wilds around 70 million years ago—is the genus’ only known species.

2. Those Devilish Horns May Have Been Combat-Ready.

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Anchored menacingly above Carnotaurus’ eyes is something we don’t normally associate with predatory animals: a pair of horns. Why were these needed? Well, perhaps rivals dueled every so often. Each horn’s upper side was broad, flat, and seemingly capable of withstanding considerable stress during head-to-head combat. However, a 2009 analysis argues that Carnotaurus’ skull couldn’t long endure “rapid frontal blows.” Thus, the dinos likely would have preferred slow, deliberate shoving matches.

3. There’s A Bit of Debate Over How Strong Carnotaurus’ Bite Was.

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The aforementioned study also claims that Carnotaurus jaws were designed to produce weak, “muscle-driven” bites. In contrast, previous estimates implied that it could chomp down twice as hard as modern alligators do. Crikey!

4. Carnotaurus had Ludicrously Tiny Arms.

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Deride T. rex’s puny forelimbs all you want, but Carnotaurus makes the Tyrant Lizard King look like a heavyweight boxing champ. Granted, its lower arm bones were fairly robust and, accordingly, may not have been 100 percent useless. Yet, it’s still difficult to imagine these bizarre, peg-like appendages playing a huge role in daily life.

5. Still, Carnotaurus Was Frighteningly Fast.

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Here’s a handy survival tip: When being chased by a Carnotaurus, try giving it the slip with some quick turns. Powerful thigh muscles connected to the dinosaur’s thick, muscular tail helped make it a formidable sprinter. But Carnotaurus couldn’t exactly change direction on a dime—the vertebrae in its tail were too tightly interlocked to permit sudden turning.

6. A Pack of Color-Changing Carnotaurus Show up In Michael Crichton’s The Lost World

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In the second novel of his bestselling Jurassic Park series, Crichton throws some camouflaging Carnotaurus at the protagonists, who proceed to scare them off with their flashlights.

7. Disney’s Dinosaur (2000) Took a Lot of Liberties with Carnotaurus’ Size

In this scene, a monstrous Carnotaurus towers over a trio of beaked herbivores known as Iguanodon, which—in real life—were actually longer than the 25-foot predator.

8. It Had Very Bumpy Skin.

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Carnotaurus’ hide—as demonstrated by fossilized skin impressions—was covered in small scales with a smattering of bony lumps called “osteoderms” tossed in for good measure.

9. It’s Related to an Alleged Cannibal.

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Distinctive bite marks have been located on the bones of Majungasaurus, a Carnotaurus cousin from Madagascar. These perfectly correspond to the known dimensions of Majungasaurus jaws and teeth, implying that the dinos frequently made meals of each other.

10. A Super-Powered Carnotaurus Named “Ace” Stars in Dinosaur King, One of the Weirdest Pokemon Rip-Offs You’ll Ever See

Based on a successful line of card and video games, this cartoon series features an adolescent boy named Rex Owen (*cough* “Ash Ketchum!” *cough*). The lad partners with a purple Carnotaurus, which often gets pitted against other dinos in epic, computer-generated battles. We’ll just let this clip speak for itself:

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July 18, 2014 - 9:00pm
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