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The amazing Ceratosaurus nasicornis


Imagine a ferocious predator, six metres long, weighing up to 1,000 kilograms. Imagine it lived 150 million years ago. Imagine teeth that could rip right through flesh. Imagine it had strong hind legs but small front ones. Imagine it had a massive tail. Imagine it had spikes going down its back. Well I have seen one !

Well, not a real one, of course ! I saw a replica of at the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow, which I wrote about visiting a few weeks ago. The skeleton (it's actually a replica) is from a dinosaur called Ceratosaurus nasicornis (or just a ceratosaurus). 

This amazing dinosaur was a powerful predator that had large jaws and enormous, blade-like teeth. It weighed up to a incredible 1,000 kilograms and it was 6 metres long. The first ceratosaurus skeleton was discovered in 1883 by M.P. Felch. It was a theropod, which means it walked on its hind legs.

The name ceratosaurus means "horned lizard" because it had a large, sharp horn on its nose and two above the eyes. No one really knows what they were used for but they might have been used like antlers for fighting other ceratosauri, or for display to females.

It had a long tail, a robust body, and heavy bones. Their front arms were short but also powerful.

The scapula is very big compared to the front arms, and very bird-like in shape. The front arms are really small but powerful with four fingered hands. Like many dinosaurs, ceratosauri have a furcula, which is the v-shaped bone. The furcula is usually found on birds and it helps strengthen the front arms.

Unlike mammals, the sacrum (the base of the spine which connects to the pelvis) has joined to the pelvis over time for strength, similar to a bird's pelvic girdle.

They have really long tail which they use for balancing and it helps it swim. The muscle attachments (the spines coming out) are vertical, suggesting the tail was taller than it was wide, and very muscular.

It has a very narrow face. You can tell that it is a carnivore because the extremely sharp teeth are for ripping through flesh.

On some mammals, like foxes, cows and deer, the largest part for muscle attachments (the vertical bits coming out of the vertebrae)  is above the shoulder, but on the ceratosaurus, it is above the back legs, showing the muscles were concentrated here.

The toes, feet and claws are very similar to modern birds of prey.

I don't write much about dinosaurs, but Ceratosaurus is a good dinosaur to study; it looks similar to a T.rex, you can see the smilitarities with both modern birds and modern mammals.

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nupurmaskara said...

Hi Jake,
We would like to feature you as a Mocostar on Mocomag, our magazine- mocomi.com/magazine. Do let us know please if you're interested!

Daisy Debs said...

I dont know much about the geology of Scotland , but I have just written about the " maybe " fossil bone that I found last week at Loch Doon . I need to know which dinosaurs have been found evidence of in Scotland and which time period ? Jake ...you just have to get into fossil hunting ! Its so exciting ! : )

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