Massive New Meat-Eating Dino Had "Steak Knife" Teeth

December 12, 2007

A new species of meat-eating dinosaur larger than Tyrannosaurus rex has been identified from remains found in North Africa, fossil experts say.

The previously unknown dinosaur, dubbed Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis, grew up to 45 feet (14 meters) long and used huge "steak knife" teeth for slashing through prey, according to paleontologists.

"It was just a completely ferocious animal," said lead study author Steve Brusatte, a student at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

"The teeth of this guy were enormous. They were the size of bananas, but they were very thin teeth."

The dinosaur's skull was about 5.5 feet (1.7 meters) long and was relatively lightweight given the animal's size.

This suggests that C. iguidensis relied on speed and used its teeth like hatchets to strike at the neck or flanks of its prey, Brusatte said.

T. rex, on the other hand, had a much stronger skull and teeth adapted "not just to taking down prey but actually crunching through bone," the researcher noted.

According to Brusatte, the new dino is one of "the largest carnivores we know of that lived on land."

The main rival for the title is the closely related Giganotosaurus from South America. (Related: "Meat-Eating Dinosaur Was Bigger Than T. Rex" [April 17, 2006].)

Rare Fossil Find

Brusatte's study, which appears today in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, is based on 95-million-year-old skull, jaw, and neck fossils found in Niger in 1997.

The remains were unearthed during an expedition led by study co-author Paul Sereno, a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence and a paleontologist at the University of Chicago. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.)

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