STL Science Center

STL Science Center

19 August 2011

Albert the dinosaur

©Jim Robins
Albertosaurus is one of those Tyrannosaurid dinosaurs that I grew up knowing of but not knowing about. A lot like Allosaurus actually. So now, I'm going to delve into the depths of knowledge about Albertosaurus with our interested readers here. Albertosaurus comes from Alberta, Canada, hence the name, along the area of outcroppings that saddle the Red Deer River throughout its journey through Alberta. Albertosaurus sarcophagus mean "Alberta lizard flesh eater" when you put it all together and, though a slightly smaller Tyrannosaurid than Tarbosaurus and T-Rex, Albertosaurus was most definitely at the top of its local food chain. Albertosaurus is one of the few dinosaurs, let alone one of the very few large dinosaurs, to have been found in mass graves which suggest pack or herd mentalities. In one location up to 22 individual Albertosaurs were found to have died together. Adults and sub-adults have been found but, as of now, no infants have been recovered. It is believed there was a high infant mortality rate in Albertosaurs but that their small fragile skeletons were not preserved.

Albertosaurus was a pretty advanced tyrannosaur despite its smaller stature. It possessed the general tyrannosaur form and is thought to have run at speeds 8 and 13 miles per hour thanks solidly built leg and foot with long third digit (middle toe) on its feet and average sized second and fourth digits (first and third toes) with toe number one being held behind the foot and not in contact with the ground. Another interesting bit of Albertosaurus anatomy is an ampulla (a round hole) built into its teeth that helped to prevent them from cracking when great tearing forces were exerted on the thin serrated fronts of the teeth. This design is even used in airplanes to help prevent important parts of the planes from cracking while under duress during flight. One mystery we will have to visit is the relationship to Gorgosaurus libratus, an animal that many think is the second Albertosaurus species incorrectly named (Phil Currie is an important opponent of this idea and many side with his research on the matter).

No comments:

Post a Comment