The Big Other Lizard
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
Ceylon Today Features
If you were ever given the chance to name a dinosaur that hunts and eats other dinosaurs, and is a cousin to the famous Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor, what kind of a name would you pick? Surely it would be a name as cool as its cousins. Would you ever pick a name as simple as ‘Other lizard’ for such a dinosaur? Unfortunately for the Allosaurus (AL-oh-sore-rus),that’s exactly what happened.
Fossils of Allosaurus was discovered and described around the year 1877. And soon became quite the hot topic, being a theropod, which is basically the family name of the Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex) and Velociraptor.
Like its cousins, the Allosaurus was a massive creature, that possibly weighed a lot more than an average car, and hunted large dinosaur species. While not as large as its cousin, the T-Rex, Allosaurus was still big enough to be a very scary dinosaur.
It had large, hooked claws for its front limbs and was a fast mover and runner. Not only that, it had massive teeth that could have easily been as big as your hand. This was not a dinosaur that was taken lightly. After studying a lot of fossils and bones, they’ve found evidence that these dinosaurs have hunted a lot of large, armoured dinosaurs and maybe even young brachiosaurs (yes, the gigantic ones).
If the Allosaurus was such a cool dinosaur, you might be wondering why it was given such an odd name.
That’s because, when studying its bones, early paleontologists found out that their vertebrae (backbones) looked very different from the other dinosaur fossils found at that time. Mind you, this was in 1877, when people were first starting to learn about all the dinosaurs. And so, the inspiration came to name this dinosaur the ‘different lizard’, hence Allosaurus, which is a combination of the two Greek words allos (different) and sauros (lizard). It was a few decades later that this creature’s bigger cousin, the Tyrannosaurus Rex was discovered.
While Allosaurus is not as big as the infamous T-Rex, it was definitely a formidable hunter, preying on some of the big, armored dinosaurs of its time. Scientists think that they must have been fully grown adults by around the age of fifteen, gaining nearly 150 kilograms a year as they did. This means the Allosaurus would have easily weighed more than your average car.
Both the younger ones and older dinosaurs of this species were true hunters, whether they chased their prey or ambushed them. Equipped with sharp, massive teeth, strong claws to grip with and a powerful neck, these dinosaurs were creatures to be feared of truly.
Also, their jaws probably had the ability to hinge open really wide, more than you would normally find in a creature. While scientists aren’t completely sure why these dinosaurs had the ability to do that, there are a few theories being discussed.
While there’s a lot we do know about the Allosaurus, being one of the earliest dinosaurs discovered, there’s very little we can learn about these ancient creatures without a living being to observe and study. However, let’s consider ourselves lucky that these giant hunters aren’t alive today, or our lives would have been very different.