The Carnotaurus became especially famous after Disney’s movie, Dinosaurs. In this computer-semi-animated-semi-real movie the Carnotaurus (called “Carnotaur” in the movie) was the evil predator that was aiming to eat up the group of migrating herbivores.
In the end, without giving all the information, the bad guys get taken care of and the herbivores live happily ever after . . . at least, some of them. The only problems with Dinosaurs’ reconstruction of the dinosaur would be the exaggerated size (even though there is a big one and a smaller one) and ability to take down medium-size (ceratopsians) to larger dinosaurs (iguanodontians). As you will see in the study of the skull it does not seem that Carnotaurus could take down the larger animals.
- 25 feet long
- Two horns over eyes
- Tiny, tiny arms
- Big head
As can be expected the horns on Carnotaurus are speculated on and many have drawn different conclusions. Some believe the horns were used to attract mates, the bigger the horns better chance of getting a mate. Other theories may make sense but we won’t know until we see one.
The head itself was extremely large on the upper jaw but when you reached the lower jaw it was thin, short and very weak-looking. This is one of the reasons scientists take out the possibility of Carnotaurus attacking larger dinosaurs. If Carnotaurus bit down with his jaws the struggle the dying animal would have given may have bent or broken the lower jaw.
Instead of eating larger animals scientists believe Carnotaurus probably ate smaller animals. There is little to no reason this dinosaur couldn’t eat some of the deer family that may have lived in its area (you won’t ever hear an evolutionist say that today) or other smaller mammals that lived in its region. It may have eaten smaller dinosaurs too.
Unlike other larger theropods, Carnotaurus had a very tall and triangular shape too it. Most other theropods were just thick and bulky the whole way. And, like T. Rex, his eyes faced forward, possibly giving him binocular vision and depth perception. Depth perception is very important for those who have to chase prey (what Carnotaurus probably did).
The opening of Disney’s Dinosaurs is an edge-of-the-seat moment as a roaring Carnotaurus charges out of the forest and chases a group of plant-eating dinosaurs. As can be imagined the herds take-off and the Carnotaurus easily takes down an older ceratopsian.
And, in other scenes the Carnotaurus is very fast sprinter. This was probably true of this guy. Although he couldn’t take down the bigger herbivores he may have been able to snatch up faster, smaller animals. He would have been able to scoop his head down while using his tail to balance himself.
The arms are so tiny on Carnotaurus that they are hardly seen in most illustrations. But, because they didn’t have larger arms God gave Carnotaurus one other big help, two gigantic breastbones.
If T. Rex or Allosaurus would have fallen head first on the ground they might have used their arms to help break the fall or to help them get back up. But, for Carnotaurus if he fell he had an extra defense against the crushing fall.
Because Carnotaurus was so perfectly preserved in a concretion impressions of their scaly skin was embedded into the rock. These skin impressions tell us what kind of skin Carnotaurus had, and with that the comparison between other dinosaur skin impressions.
Multiple hadrosaur skin impressions have been found but a theropod with impressions is a very rare find. The impression stretched over much of the body and displayed many low, round scales placed among half-pointed scales in straight rows along the back.
Carnotaurus’ skin once again proved that dinosaurs had scales different from the reptiles of today.
The Carnotaurus, whether being a star on a movie or in a book, has always had very unique features and the further study and, hopefully, findings will reveal even more about this “meat-eating bull”.