The scientific tourist #261 — Carcharodontosaurus (with and without skin)

This week, you get two images of one subject on traveling display at the Sternberg Museum in Hays, Kansas — the skull of a CarcharodontosaurusFirst with the skin:

Carcharodontosaurus -- in the flesh

…then without:

Carcharodontosaurus -- just the bones

Carcharodontosaurus lived between 100 and 93 million years ago, during the mid-Cretaceous.  Enormous carnivores, they grew to at least 40 feet (12 meters) in length, and weighed at least 6 metric tons at maturity.  An adult’s skull, like this casting on display, could be more than 5 feet (1.6 meters) long. 

From the placard by Project Exploration:

Carcharodontosaurus (“shark-toothed reptile”) is Africa’s answer to Tyrannosaurus. Reaching a size greater than the North American giant, Carcharodontosaurus was armed with 6-inch (15 cm) long blade-shaped teeth that would have sliced through the largest prey. Despite its massive jaws, the space in the skull for the forebrain (the thinking part of the brain) is only half the volume of that in Tyrannosaurus, and about one-fifteenth that of a human.

In the early 1900s, German paleontologist Ernst Stromer discovered skull fragments in Egypt that belonged to an unusually large predatory dinosaur. In 1944, during World War II, all of its fossil bones and teeth were destroyed during the Allied bombing of Munich.

In 1995, Paul Sereno and his team unearthed a huge skull in Morocco that perfectly matched the drawings of Stromer’s bones. Their skull, they realized, already had a name — Carcharodontosaurus.

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