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Albertosaurus sarcophagus (Osborn, 1905)

Name Means: "Albert's Lizard" Length: 30 feet (9 m)
Pronounced: al-BURR-to-SORE-us Weight: 3 tons
When it lived: Late Cretaceous period, about 76-74 million years ago.    
Where found: Alberta, Canada    

Introduction

    Fierce, meat-eating Albertosaurus sarcophagus is almost identical to its cousin Tyrannosaurus rex, but not as large. Like other tyrannosaurs, it walked on two legs and had a large head.  It had two-fingered hands on short arms. Its long tail provided balance and quick turning. It had powerful back legs with clawed, three-toed feet. The lower jaw of Albertosaurus had from 14 and 16 teeth; the upper jaw had 17-19 teeth. It had one row of teeth in each jaw but had at least one replacement tooth growing up from under each tooth.

Discovery

    Albertosaurus bones were among the earliest dinosaur remains collected in Alberta, Canada. A partial skull was found by J.B. Tyrrell in 1884 was the first important dinosaur fossil to be discovered along the Red Deer River. It was named Albertosaurus sarcophagusin in 1905, the same year that Alberta became a province. It is the type species of the genera.  For many years there was only skull material and only one reasonably complete skeleton.  This is unusual as there have been at least one or two complete skulls found for all other North American tyrannosaurs.

Royal Tyrell Museum

   Joseph Burr Tyrrell was not a paleontologist.  He was a geologist who explored much of western Canada during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  He claimed no priority in the discovery of dinosaurs in the Red Deer River Valley. And yet, it is his name that is attached to the premier paleontological museum in North America -- the one with a major focus on Red Deer Valley dinosaurs -- the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller. 
   The exact location of the bonebed discovered by Tyrell has been lost for many years.  But Dr. Philip Currie, paleontologist of the Royal Tyrell Museum recently found nine Albertosaurus sarcophagus fossils together. Since these dinosaurs were of different ages, they were probably from a herd/pack that lived together (at least temporarily). The idea of a pack of these enormous predators hunting together is extremely scary. The smallest documented Albertosaurus, a juvenile less than a quarter of the size of a full grown adult, was collected from Sandy Point on the South Saskatchewan River in 1986.

Species

   There are two species of Albertosaurus
Albertosaurus
 sarcophagus
    Described above.  Stripped of the remains assigned to Gorgosaurus, this taxon was known mainly from two partial skulls and skeletons.  Recently found bone bed material will add 9 individuals in three general size classes.
Albertosaurus arctunguis
(Parks, 1928).
Skull length : up to 1 m.; Total length : 8 m.; Hip height  : 2.5 m.; Weight  : 2 ton
Albertosaurus libratus (Lambe, 1914) is today known as the Gorgosaurus libratus. (listed at left).  This change of genera is advocated by many paleontologists, who claim that there are enough differences between A. libratus and the other Albertosaurus species to resurrect the older genus name of Gorgosaurus. Skull length : up to 1 m.; Total length : 8.6 m.; Hip height  : 2.8 m; Weight  : 2.5 tonnes

 

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