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Acrocanthosaurus is a genus of theropod dinosaur that existed in what is now North America during the Aptian and early Albian stages of the Early Cretaceous. Like most dinosaur genera, Acrocanthosaurus contains only a single species, A. atokensis. Its fossil remains are found mainly in the U.S. states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming, although teeth attributed to Acrocanthosaurus have been found as far east as Maryland.

Acrocanthosaurus was a bipedal predator. As the name suggests, it is best known for the high neural spines on many of its vertebrae, which most likely supported a ridge of muscle over the animal’s neck, back and hips.

Acrocanthosaurus was one of the largest theropods, reaching 11.5 m (38 ft) in length, and weighing up to 6.2 tonnes (6.8 short tons). Large theropod footprints discovered in Texas may have been made by Acrocanthosaurus, although there is no direct association with skeletal remains.

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Clade: Dinosauria
  • Order: Saurischia
  • Suborder: Theropoda
  • Family: Carcharodontosauridae
  • Genus: Acrocanthosaurus Stovall & Langston, 1950
  • Species: atokensis Stovall & Langston, 1950
  • Synonyms: “Acracanthus” Langston vide

Acrocanthosaurus Description

Acrocanthosaurus was a large carnosaur theropod dinosaur that had a large head, many sharp teeth, strong arms, powerful back legs, and a long slender tail that balanced its body when it ran. It lived alongside the small raptor Deinonychus, some small ankylosaurs, and hunted large sauropods. Acrocanthosaurus had one feature that made it look very different from other theropods; the tall “sail” along its neck, back, and tail. The sail was formed by very tall spines on the bones of the spine (vertebrae).

Acrocanthosaurus Classification

  • The Acrocanthosaurus is classified under order Theropoda, clade Carnosauria and family Carcharodontosauridae.
  • In 1956, it was classified under the family Megalosauridae. But this family is disregarded today.
  • Due to its long spinous processes, in was considered a member of family Spinosauridae in the 1980s. But in depth research has shown otherwise.
  • It was thought in the late 1980s that the Altispinax was a sub species of the Acrocanthosaurus. But later it was classified under a new genus Becklespinax.


Some of these spines were over a foot tall. It may represent an evolutionary link between the Late Jurassic Allosaurus and the gigantic Early Cretaceous Carcharodontosaurus. It was one of the largest bipedal carnivorous dinosaurs, with one mounted specimen reaching a length of possibly 11.5 meters (38 feet) and an estimated weight of 5.7 to 6.2 tonnes (6.3 to 6.8 tons), with an upper maximum weight of 7.25 t (7.99 tons) within the realm of possibility. Many of its vertebrae had high neural spines, though nowhere as high as those of Spinosaurus.

About Acrocanthosaurus

Acrocanthosaurus is a therapod that lived during the Early Cretaceous Period about 115 million years ago. Its fossils were first discovered in Oklahoma during the 1940s. However, this discovery was largely ignored and forgotten until 1950, when J. Willis Stovall and Wann Langston, Jr rediscovered this species by finding a very large vertebrae segment. They would go on to name the dinosaur Acrocanthosaurus, a name which means “high spine lizard.” This name was chosen because it has seventeen inch spikes that travel from its neck to its tail.

Habits and habitat

The Acrocanthosaurus was a feared carnivore of its time. It preyed on many sauropods, archosaurs, rauischians and even smaller theropods.

It walked on its hind legs, i.e. it was bipedal. Its forelegs were too short to touch the ground or offer support while walking.

It used its arms to restrain and overwhelm its prey.  Its teeth were not strong enough to snap bones and hence using its forearms for attack was a necessity.

The habitat of the Acrocanthosaurus was dry. This is determined by the size of its feet. If it lived near marshes or wetlands, its legs would have sunk inside it ground while walking. The climate of the regions where the Acrocanthosaurus lived was hot and humid.

Acrocanthosaurus Facts

  • It lived 45 million years before T Rex
  • Weighed more than an African Elephant
  • Over 4 car links in length
  • Acrocanthosaurus has incredible smell
  • Lived in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Utah and South Carolina

Also more: Achillobator dinosaur

Acrocanthosaurus images

Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay

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