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10 Predatory Facts About Albertosaurus

Neil Conway

This week, we’re shining our spotlight on the imposing Albertosaurus, one of T. rex’s best-known cousins.  

1. It Was one of Several North American Tyrannosaurs.

Millions of years before Tyrannosaurus rex showed up, smaller relatives like Alaska’s Nanuqsaurus, New Mexico’s Bistahieversor, and Utah’s Teratophoneus—whose excellent name means “monstrous murderer”—terrorized the continent.

2. Some Speculate that Albertosaurus Traveled in Packs.

Ryan Somma

It’s flat-out impossible to fully ascertain an extinct animal’s social norms on the basis of nothing but fossilized bones. With that being said, Albertosaurus skeletons have been found in large groups, prompting a few paleontologists to wonder if these 30-foot carnivores were potential pack-hunters.  

3. Albertosaurus Bit Each Other’s Faces

Ryan Somma

Deep, tell-tale scars reveal that Albertosaurus and Tyrannosaurus would not only bite other members of their own species, but occasionally target a very specific region while doing so: namely, the facial area. One especially-unlucky Albertosaurus managed to survive after having a rival chomp down on its lower jaw twice! 

4. Albertosaurus’ Ancestors Migrated From Asia

Wikimedia Commons

The earliest tyrannosauroids—which evolved in or near modern-day China during the Jurassic period (199.6-145.5 million years ago)—were hardly intimidating. Feathery Dilong paradoxus, for example, would’ve been slightly over 6 feet long when fully grown. Yet, as this formerly-humble group gradually spread out across Asia, Europe, and the Americas, it produced some of the biggest predators our planet’s ever seen.

5. It Wasn’t the Only Dino Named After Alberta.

Wikimedia Commons

Albertaceratops (pictured above) and Albertonykus were also named for this dinosaur-rich Canadian province.

6. Albertosaurus’ Teeth Took a Beating.

Robert Taylor

Ripping through flesh can put a lot of pressure on your pearly whites. Dino tooth expert William Abler has hypothesized that, while feeding, a line of serrations on Albertosaurus teeth helped keep them from cracking.

7. We’ve Got Skin Impressions from Albertosaurus’ Closest Relative.

Wikimedia Commons

Pebbly, Gila monster-like scale impressions have been found in association with Gorosaurus libratus, a sleek carnivore from Montana and Western Canada that is so Albertosaurus-like that some scientists think it really belongs to the same genus. 

8. Compared to T. rex, Albertosaurus Was Almost Petite.

Wikimedia Commons

Though Tyrannosaurus rex only stretched 10 to 12 feet longer than Albertosaurus, most estimates indicate that the bigger dino was significantly heavier. Adult “rexes” are generally thought to have weighed in at 5 to 7 tons. Slender Albertosaurus, on the other hand, likely maxed out at 2 to 3.

9. Juveniles Were Seemingly Built for Speed.

Falashad

Leggy young Albertosaurus had proportionately lengthier hind limbs than mature specimens, indicating that they could’ve far out-paced older rivals [PDF].

10. A Long-Lost Albertosaurus Bone Bed was Rediscovered 86 Years Later.

James West

Finding several large, predatory dinosaurs at the same site qualifies as a major-league discovery. So when fossil-hunting rock star Barnum Brown plucked nine Albertosaurus skeletons from a mass graveyard in 1910, it was a pretty big deal. But the explorer never recorded his treasure trove’s whereabouts for posterity’s sake. For 86 years, scientists could only imagine what other wonders it might yet yield.

But four photographs did survive, and in 1996, paleontologist Phil Currie used these snapshots to finally relocate Brown’s mysterious site. And the good news didn’t stop there: The bones of as many as 26 individual Albertosaurus were found lying in wait.

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Feathers, Fighting, and Feet: A Brief History of Dinosaur Art
Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

One of the first-known works of dinosaur art was The country of the Iguanodon, an 1837 watercolor by John Martin. It depicts the ancient reptiles as giant iguanas, thrashing and fighting near a stone quarry—a far cry from today's sophisticated 3D renderings.

By watching the PBS Eons video below, you can learn how our image of dinosaurs has changed over the centuries, thanks to artworks based on new scientific discoveries and fossil findings. Find out why artists decided to give the prehistoric creatures either feathers or scales, make them either active or sluggish, present them as walking on two or four feet, and to imagine tails that either dragged or lifted, among other features.

Keep in mind, however, that both emerging technologies and new findings are constantly changing the way scientists view dinosaurs. A new species, on average, is named every two weeks—and this research will likely keep artists busy (and constantly revising their work) for years to come.

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Pop Chart Lab
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Epic Poster Features Over 100 Hand-Drawn Illustrations of Dinosaurs
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

Paleontologists are constantly discovering new dinosaurs (or questioning whether beloved species ever existed in the first place), so it's hard to keep track of every dino that ever existed. But if you want an up-to-date catalogue of the most significant beasts from the Triassic to the Cretaceous periods, this taxonomy poster from Pop Chart Lab is tough to beat.

Titled Dinosauria, the chart organizes more than 700 genera of dinosaurs into one easy-to-read infographic. All of the standard favorites are represented, like Triceratops and T. Rex, as well as some more obscure or newly discovered prehistoric reptiles like Conchoraptor and Psittacosaurus. Pop Chart Lab pulled its data from the most current classification systems, even including research published just this year that unifies ornithischians with theropods.


The 100 hand-drawn illustrations and accompanying taxonomic timeline took over 500 hours of research to design. Hanging it on your wall at home requires a lot less effort: You can order a 24-inch-by-36-inch print for $37 from Pop Chart Lab’s online store.

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