Wednesday, December 19, 2012

23-Fact Tuesday: All About Allosaurus!

Today we are going to do yet another 23-Fact Tuesday, and this time it is all about a particularly interesting dinosaur known as Allosaurus.  But this 23-Fact Tuesday is particularly special, as it is also the birthday post of one of my personal heroes and one of the people who inspired me to take this dinosaur- and animal-oriented path, Mr. "Dino" George Blasing!  Happy birthday, Mr. Blasing!  Here we go!
Allosaurus Vs. Stegosaurus at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
1.  On Halloween in 1879, Arthur Lakes discovered a tooth from a dinosaur that was later identified as Allosaurus in Wyoming.

2.  In the United States, Allosaurus is found in the Morrison Formation, and lived alongside other animals such as Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Camptosaurus, Gargoyleosaurus, and many others. 
A skeleton of Gargoyleosaurus from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Allosaurus Vs. Camptosaurus that I saw at a traveling exhibit at the San Antonio River Walk in Texas
Ceratosaurus at the Smithsonian
Stegosaurus at the Utah Field House
3. The claws on the hand of Allosaurus could reportedly grow up to 10 inches long.
The arm and the claws of Allosaurus, mounted at the Morrison Natural History Museum
4.  Some scientists believe that Allosaurus had a very weak bite, around the strength of a leopard.  Regardless of exactly how weak of a bite it had, Allosaurus was definitely not a heavy-biter champion, and many paleontologists hypothesize that it instead used its skull sort of like a hatchet to kill its prey, using its razor-sharp teeth to critically injure its prey.

5.  The first fossils of Allosaurus that were ever discovered were originally thought to be petrified horse hooves.

6.  Allosaurus is the state dinosaur of Utah.
A reconstructed skeleton of Allosaurus at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry in Utah
7.  Allosaurus certainly didn't sit on its rump and enjoy hamburgers and tea, as their skeletons show that they suffered many injuries throughout their lives.  As a matter of fact, the Allosaurus specimen that is on display at the Smithsonian Institution has a number of broken ribs, a smashed shoulder blade, and a damaged lower jaw.
A crushed femur belonging to Allosaurus from the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry
8.  The lower jaw of the specimen at the Smithsonian was so damaged, in fact, that it took scientists more than 100 years to figure out that it was, in fact, an Allosaurus jaw!

9.  A predator-prey relationship between Allosaurus and Stegosaurus was all but confirmed with the discovery of a specimen of Allosaurus with a hole in one of its tail vertebrae that perfectly matched the shape and size of the thagomizer on the tail of Stegosaurus.
Allosaurus Vs. Stegosaurus at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
The "thagomizer" of Stegosaurus, mounted at the DMNS.  Check out THIS post to learn about how this particular part of the Stegosaurus got its name!
10.  "Allosaurus" spelled backwards is "Suruasolla," which means absolutely nothing.

11.  The small horns above the eyes of Allosaurus are mostly thought to have been for display, as most scientists believe them to be too weak to withstand much stress resulting from conflict with prey or other Allosaurus.
12.  Allosaurus gives its name to the group Allosauroidea, which includes the Chinese theropods Yangchuanosaurus and Sinraptor, and the carcharodontosaurids, which includes one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs of all time, Carcharodontosaurus, amongst other dinosaurs.

13.  Some of the other scientific names that Allosaurus fragilis has had over the years are Allosaurus lucaris, Allosaurus ferox, Labrosaurus ferox, Labrosaurus lucaris, Antrodemus, Poicilopleuron valens, Laelaps trihedrodon, Epanterias amplexus, Hypsirhophus discurus, Hypsirhophus partim, and Creosaurus atrox, with a few other names under debate right now.  Specifically, some scientists think that the dinosaur known as Saurophaganax is the same animal as Allosaurus.  However, I have talked with a few people, including Matthew Mossbrucker, curator of the Morrison Natural History Museum, and he says that he has seen the remains of Saurophaganax and believes them to be distinct from Allosaurus
A reconstructed skeleton of Saurophaganax that I saw at a traveling exhibit at the San Antonio River Walk in Texas
14.  Besides Saurophaganax, Allosaurus was much larger than the other known theropods from Late Jurassic Morrison, such as Ceratosaurus and Torvosaurus.
A reconstructed skull of Saurophaganax that I saw at a traveling exhibit at the San Antonio River Walk in Texas
15.  We humans actually live closer in time to the famous Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops, and other dinosaurs from that time period than they do to Allosaurus!
A Triceratops skull at the Morrison Natural History Museum
16.  Allosaurus fragilis was first named by famous paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh in 1877.

17.  The scientific name of Allosaurus fragilis translates to "fragile different lizard," named such due to the fact that Marsh believed that the vertebrae of Allosaurus would have been quite weak, and were different  from those of other, previously discovered dinosaurs.  Now we know that vertebrae of this kind were quite common.

18.  One of the most famous specimens of Allosaurus is the approximately 95% complete specimen nicknamed "Big Al."  Estimated to be only a teenager at his TOD, he is about 26 feet long, which probably helps to explain why so many of my dinosaur books list the estimated length of Allosaurus at around 26 feet.

19.  Allosaurus lived during the Late Jurassic Period, around 155.7-150.8 MYA in the United States (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Oklahoma, and South Dakota), Portugal, and possibly the Tendaguru Beds of Tanzania, although many people believe that this is African animal is an entirely different animal from Allosaurus.

20.  Work began at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry in 1960, and over 40 individual specimens of Allosaurus have been uncovered there since then.
Unarticulated bones of Allosaurus from the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry
21.  Due to the vast number of Allosaurus specimens discovered in all different stages of its growth development (especially from Cleveland-Lloyd), paleontologists have been able to estimate that Allosaurus reached full-size at around 15 years of age, and lived to around 22-28 years old.
A whole bunch of Allosaurus leg bones all put next to each other to show the growth of the animal, largely based upon bones found at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, which is where this picture was taken
22.  Fossils of Allosaurus are still being discovered to this day, a fact which I can personally attest to.  Blocks of stone are still being excavated at the Morrison Natural History Museum, and bones of Allosaurus, as well as its teeth, are currently being cleaned. 

23.  Allosaurus is the favorite dinosaur of the famous dinosaur educator, "Dino" George Blasing.

And remember, if you have a birthday coming up, just email me the date at with the date and your favorite animal, and I will do my best to get a post in!  And remember, if you like what you're reading, make sure you LIKE US ON FACEBOOK, follow us (if you have a google or gmail account), or hit the subscribe button off to the right if you don't!

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