Paleontologists Reconstruct One of the Strangest Carnivorous Dinosaurs Ever Discovered

Artist’s reconstruction of Carnotaurus based on the scaly skin of described in the present study. Credit: Illustration by Jake Baardse

Scientists Reveal the Fossilized Skin of a Bull-Like Carnivorous Dinosaur

One of the strangest carnivorous dinosaurs ever discovered has been given a makeover by a pair of Belgian and Australian paleontologists.

The remarkable fossil was discovered in 1984 by celebrated Argentine paleontologist José Bonaparte who named the animal Carnotaurus, which translates as “carnivorous bull” in reference to its strange skull with large horns.

The skeleton, which comes from Chubut Province of Patagonia, was preserved along with sheets of its scaly hide. Although scientists at the time knew other types of dinosaurs were scaly, Carnotaurus was the first meat-eating dinosaur discovered with skin.

Although a number of scientists had looked at the fossilized skin, no one had studied it in detail. Paleontologist Dr. Christophe Hendrickx from the Unidad Ejecutora Lillo in San Miguel de Tucumán, who led the present study said, “by looking at the skin from the shoulders, belly and tail regions, we discovered that the skin of this dinosaur was more diverse than previously thought, consisting of large and randomly distributed conical studs surrounded by a network of small elongated, diamond-shaped or subcircular scales.”

Hendrickx worked with Dr Phil Bell, an expert in dinosaur skin, from the University of New England in Australia who pointed out the large studs and small scales of Carnotaurus is reminiscent of the thorny devil lizard found in Outback Australia.

Unlike more recent discoveries of feathered dinosaurs, particularly from China, the 8-metre-long Carnotaurus was entirely scaly, with no evidence of feathers. As an active predator, the scientists speculate the scales would have been important in regulating the animals body temperature, as they do in modern reptiles.

The study was published in the journal Cretaceous Research.

Reference: “The scaly skin of the abelisaurid Carnotaurus sastrei (Theropoda: Ceratosauria) from the Upper Cretaceous of Patagonia” by Christophe Hendrickx and Phil R. Bell, 13 August 2021, Cretaceous Research.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cretres.2021.104994

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  • Coelophysis

    Strange dinosaur carnotaurus bull horns .the dinosaur Nile crocodile have small horns not all Nile crocodile have horns Siamese crocodile Cuban crocodile have big horns i never seen won .but ceratosuchus a mesoeucrocodylia have 2 horns like carnotaurus .

  • Coelophysis

    They are claiming carnotaurus did not have crocodile back this mite be impossible since dinosaur is a land gator today land gator are heavily armor some have osteoderm on the belly what is rare in thecodont osteoderm on the arm were you find that on tetanuran compsognathus fossil land mesoeucrocodylia sauropod .since gator is a tetanuran the 3 finger dinosaur all predator dinosaur back look like a crocodile compsognathus arm osteoderm prove that .allso carnotaurus is closely related to ceratosaurus they have skin fossil of ceratosaurus and osteoderm fossil is near the backbone neural spine above like the gator .carnotaurus and ceratosaurus share unique features but they are not tetanuran they are early dinosaur .clearly osteoderm rows of line osteoderm find in gator the once carnotaurus that fossilize are not rows of line and are not osteoderm some gator skin is like that but gator does not have a wing like the crocodile bird pterosaur .crocodile batman arm skin looks like osteoderm there is no bone it is just skin like bird wing without the feather .clearly they did not read ceratosaurus on Wikipedia. And reason why all dinosaur back look like crocodile it’s a good system mite be better than mammal they get more energy more warm blooded they fight disease better they can eat killer plants that why they are giant in dinosaur some very small like catcroc and different shape the draw back they are heavy bad aero but dinosaur need it to balance mammal they are different warm blooded animal like birds that have a different system .extreme aquatic dinosaur they is no osteoderm at all they have smooth skin in away it’s tougher on land .early stegosaurus back look more crocodilian with smaller osteoderm dinosaur flow trough lungs and osteoderm make them champ that why gator is king of the dinosaur it can battle any mammal.modern crocodilian is won of most dangerous animal alive real truth should be told more by there advance feature clearly why most dinosaur are not around any more .allso dinosaur is one group that why plant eating bird hip dinosaur back look like a gator .bird hip dinosaur predator dinosaur came from the same ancestor that why all are name dinosaur.spinosauridae is the champ that Iive on tyrannosaur live.

  • Carnotaurus

    YES!I would have looked utterly ridiculous in feathers.

  • Gunther

    I couldn’t bare to read these comments due to total lack of punctuation. It seemed like something intelligent until I realized the entire paragraph is a huge run-on sentence.