Prehistoric Wiki

acrocanthosaurus skeleton on display

Acrocanthosaurus, which means high spined lizard was a large dinosaur that belonged to the Theropods from the Aptian and early Albian stages of the Early Cretaceous in the Mesozoic Era. It lived in what we know today as North America, more specifically the U.S. states of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. It has also had remains found as far east as the state of Maryland.

Acrocanthosaurus was discovered in 1950 by American paleontologists J. Willis Stovall and Wann Langston, Jr. It was nameed after it's tall neural spines. There is only one known species of Acrocanthosaurus, Acrocanthosaurus atokensis. It is named after Atoka County in Oklahoma were its remains were originally found.


Acrocanthosaurus may not be as well known as some of its theropod bretheren such as Tyrannosaurus but it was a truly amazing animal. Like most dinosaurs, only one species of the genus is known. An interesting feature on it was its small sail similar to that of Spinosaurus. The sail runs from the back of its head to the middle of its tail. It was a fairly large animal, one of the biggest of the theropod dinosaurs. It was 10 to 12 meters long and weighed 5-6 tons. Acrocanthosaurus was a member of the carnosaurs, the group that included theropods like Carcharodontosaurus and Giganotosaurus. Like its theropod cousins Acrocanthosaurus was a carnivore as indicated by it sharp serrated teeth. It is thought to have eaten many different kinds of prey such as Hadrosaurs and maybe even small Sauropods. It is also believed to have traveled in small packs due to some instances when multiple skeletons were found in the same area. It is currently unknown if Acrocanthosaurus belonged to the family or Allosauridae, both related families.


Size comparrison of giant theropod dinosaurs, Acrocanthosaurus in brown

Though not as big as some of it relatives such as Carcharodontosaurus is still one of the biggest theropod dinosaurs to have ever walked the face of the planet. The longest known individual measured 11.5 meters from head to tail and weighing an impressive 13,816 pounds thats over 6 and a half tons! Its skull alone was almost 4.5 ft in length! But on average Acrocanthosaurus was 10-11 meters and about five tons. This animal was the largest predator of its time.


Acrocanthosaurus, unlike most other carnosaurs have a pair of rather large arms. These arms are not long enough to reach the ground which means they could not be used for movement so its safe to assume that the arms helped it as a predator. The arms are thought to be fairly muscular and ended with 4 sharp claws which are believed to have been able to cut they prey item while Acrocanthosaurus bit down on the helpless prey.

Feeding Ecology[]

Acrocanthosaurus, like most theropods were carnivores they preyed on almost anything in their ecosystem, which qualifies him as an apex predator. Acrocanthosaurus prey items may have included Hadrosaurs, Ceratopsians and possibly even sauropods! It is currently unknown if Acrocanthosaurus or any theropod for that matter hunted alone or in packs. Alone they could still take most prey but if they worked as a pack its likely they could take down massive sauropods. Acrocanthosaurus teeth were sharp and serrated making them perfect killing weapons. However, its jaws werent as powerful as other theropods such as Tyrannosaurus Rex. Acrocanthosaurusus hunting style is believed to be a mixture of jaws and claws. It was thought to have latched onto prey using it serrated teeth while slicing and westling it's prey to the ground.

Acrocanthosaurus killing prey

an acrocanthosaurus illistration

Appearences in the media[]

Although Acrocanthosaurus isn't nearly as well known as theropods like Tyrannosaurus Rex it has still had a few appearences in the media.

Acrocanthosaurus apeared as the star on an episode of the Discovery Channel show Monsters Reconstructed.

Acrocanthosaurus also apeared in the game Jurassic Park Operation Genesis for the PS2 as a four star large carnivore.