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Albertosaurus

al - Bert - oh - SAW - rus

Theropoda/Tyrannosauridae
Ville Sinkkonen. Copyright 2006

Field Notes

Name Means: "Alberta lizard"
Length: 26 feet (8 m)
Diet: Carnivore (Meat-Eater)
Time: Late Cretaceous
Location: South-western Canada

Albertosaurus was a slightly older relative of Tyrannosaurus and was very similar in appearance. Tyrannosaurus lived between 70 and 65 million years ago; Albertosaurus roamed the North American late Cretaceous world between 75 and 70 million years ago. Like Tyrannosaurus, Albertosaurus was a huge biped with two-fingered hands and thin plates of bone covering some of its skull openings. Albertosaurus was smaller and had a narrower skull than Tyrannosaurus, and its eyes looked more to the side.

In front of its eyes, Albertosaurus had a pair of small, blunt horns, which it may have used for sexual display. Perhaps because its body was smaller, Albertosaurus's skeleton was more gracile than that of Tyrannosaurus. It was also a faster mover than its more cumbersome successor.

Searches of fossil-bearing beds in south-western Alberta have yielded some amazing discoveries, including a number of nearly complete skeletons of juvenile Albertosaurus. While adult Albertosaurus had rather stout bones in their hindlimbs, the hindlimbs of very young specimens were remarkably slender. In some cases, several Albertosaurus skeletons-at different stages of growth-have been found together.

On the strength of these finds, some researchers have suggested that these dinosaurs traveled as family groups. However, there is no conclusive evidence that skeletons found together were from animals that actually lived together as a group.

Albertosaurus is the best known of all tyrannosaurids. Recent discoveries include wishbones-a feature it shared with other advanced theropods as well as with birds. Many museum specimens of Tyrannosaurus have filled in gaps in our knowledge of the larger dinosaur with information taken from Albertosaurus.

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