STL Science Center

STL Science Center

28 May 2016

The Weird Limbed Astronaut

©Brynn Metheney
Abelisaurids have very small arms that are even stranger than the tiny arms of tyrannosaurs. The group includes some very ornamented and very strangely armed but well known theropods including Majungasaurus and Carnotaurus. The "fleshy bull" deserves the bull part of its name as it possesses two significant and obvious bovine-like horns superior to its orbits. The fleshy part of its name refers to its diet; what else might teeth like those be used to eat? Known as a single species (C. sastrei Bonaparte 1985) from a single skeleton discovered in 1984 in Argentina, Carnotaurus is also unique for those strange and tiny arms. Shorter in proportion than even the arms of Tyrannosaurus, the arms of Carnotaurus are also rotated posteriorly at the shoulder so that the arms face the hips (to remember the direction I think of it anthropomorphic terms, like the dinosaur is putting its hands in its pockets). These hands are fairly vestigial and therefore largely useless to Carnotaurus. We will look at the horns, the hands, and the skin of Carnotaurus this week!

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