30 Facts About Albertosaurus


Living over 70 million years ago, the bipedal apex predator that was Albertosaurus roamed the North American plains and dominated its ecosystem for nearly 3 million years. Now scientists are exploring over 30 specimens of this prehistoric carnivore to discover how these animals lived day-to-day and how they died out, giving way to the next top predator: The T-Rex. Let’s take a look at 30 fossilized facts about Albertosaurus. 

Fact 1: Part of the genus Tyrannosaurid, Albertosaurus was a theropod dinosaur, which means it was a meat-eater that stood on two legs and had bones that were similar to modern birds. This made the Albertosaurus an early version and cousin of the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex. 

Fact 2: Scientists believe that Albertosaurus had a maximum bite force of about 3,413 Newtons. For comparison sake, Palaeontologists believe that T-Rex had a bit force of about 57,000 newtons. That’s nearly 17 times stronger than Albertosaurus’ bite! Additionally, for a more modern comparison, the average bite force of a dog is only 256 Newtons. So Albertosaurus could bite 13 times hard than a dog! 

Fact 3: The name Albertosaurus is pronounced like this: ‘al-ber-tuh-sawr-us’. Many people pronounce the name wrong by putting an “OW” in the middle like this: ‘al-ber-tow-sawr-us’.

Fact 4: Henry Fairfield Osborne, an American Palaeontologist, was the person who named Albertosaurus. He did so in a 1905 one-page note when he was actually describing a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton.

Fact 5: Albertosaurus is thought to have mainly hunted plant-eating animals such as the hadrosaur Edmontosaurus, ceratopsian dinosaurs similar to Triceratops, and ornithomimid dinosaurs. 

Similar to modern predators, Albertosaurus most likely hunted either the sick, the old, or the very young as none of the above would have been able to effectively defend themselves or run away. Additionally, Albertosaurus would likely have scavenged food if it were available such as carrion from an abandoned carcass.

Fact 6: Albertosaurus was originally found in Alberta Canada and is named after that area. The name translated means ‘Alberta Lizard’.

Fact 7: Albertosaurus grew to around 10 meters long and just under 3 meters high at the top of the hip. Though this still sounds really big, the Albertosaurus was actually quite a bit smaller than some other tyrannosaurids. However, there is a 28 years old specimen that is thought to be the largest Albertosaurus example, which is 10 meters long. For comparison, a T-Rex could easily top 5 meters tall at the hip could reach 14 meters long from snout to tail tip. 

Fact 8: There are two other dinosaurs named after Alberta Canada. They are Albertaceratops, a centrosaurine horned dinosaur that moves on 4 legs, and Albertonykus, an alvarezsaurid dinosaur.

Fact 9: On the 11 of August 1910, Barnum Brown, an American paleontologist, was working in a quarry near the Red Deer River in Alberta Canada when he discovered a huge group of Albertosaurus fossilized bones jutting out of the rock. It is the largest group of Albertosaurus’ fossils ever found. 

Fact 10: It’s estimated that Albertosaurus weighed between 1700 and 2400 kg. Again, for comparison, an average T-Rex, weighing in at 8000 kg, was nearly 4 times heavier than an Albertosaurus.

Size comparison of the Albertosaurus sarcophagus specimen ROM 807.
Slate Weasel – CC0

Fact 11: There are two recorded instances where paleontologists have discovered fossils with preserved Albertosaurus scales. The scales were the size and shape of pebbles and gradually morphed into slightly larger hexagonal shapes.

Fact 12: Large openings and cavities in the skull called fenestrae reduced the weight of Albertosaurus’ head dramatically while hardly decreasing the overall strength of the skull. These openings were also used to make room for sensory organs and anchor points for muscles. 

Fact 13: The Albertosaurus lived in what is now western North America.

Fact 14: It’s thought that many sub-species of Albertosaurus hunted in packs in a similar way to how modern lions hunt. 

Fact 15: As an apex predator, Albertosaurus was likely at the very top of the food chain in its local area.

Fact 16: The first complete skull was partially lost because of a lack of specialist equipment at the dig site. Only half of the skull could be removed from the bedrock and secured for transport.

Fact 17: Albertosaurus’ ancestors evolved in and around modern-day China in the Jurassic period (199.6-145.5 million years ago). That’s about 75 million years before the first Albertosaurus appeared in fossil records. 

Fact 18: Albertosaurus first appeared in the Late Cretaceous Period, about 73-70 million years ago. For comparison, the T-rex was alive around 5 million years later. 

Fact 19: Scars on some skulls of Albertosaurus indicate that they were bitten by their own species quite often. This was likely due to fighting with other males when looking to mate.

Fact 20: Supported by a powerful muscle filled S-shaped neck, Albertosaurus’ massive skull was just over 1 meter long in large adults. 

Skull cast at the Geological Museum in Copenhagen
FunkMonk Michael B. H. – Own work CC BY-SA 3.0

Fact 21: There have been more than 30 specimens of Albertosaurus, spread over all ages, discovered by paleontologists.

Fact 22: Albertosaurus had exceptionally strong and muscular back legs. Couple those legs with a slender almost athletic body and you had an animal built for speed. Computer simulations show that Albertosaurus could run at sustained speeds of 30km/h. For comparison, Usain Bolt, the 100-meter sprint world record holder, could run at a maximum speed of 44.72km/h while sprinting.  

Fact 23: Albertosaurus was one of several Tyrannosaurids that called the North American continent their home at that time. A smaller relative roamed around present-day Alaska called Nanuqsaurus. Another, Bistahieversor, found a home in New Mexico. And yet another roamed the planes of ancient Utah called Teratophoneus.

Fact 24: Albertosaurus’ mouth contained at least 58 banana shaped serrated death that could grow to lengths of up to 9cm. Albertosaurus teeth were adapted to resist lateral forces. The teeth were often exposed to extreme forces when struggling prey, gripped by the Albertosaurus’ mouth, pulled against the teeth in an effort to escape.

Fact 25: Just like T-Rex, Albertosaurus’ forelimbs were very small for their body size and retained only two digits. It was thought that the arms were very small to reduce front end weight so the skull could be bigger and hold more heavy muscle. If Albertosaurus had normal-sized arms, along with its large skull, it would have been front heavy and prone to fatal trips and falls. 

Fact 26: Albertosaurus was a bipedal predator which means it walked along on two legs instead of four. 

Fact 27: The first-ever specimen of Albertosaurus discovered was found in an outcrop of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation alongside the Red Deer River, in Alberta Canada in the summer of 1884. The expedition that discovered the skull was led by the famous Canadian geologist Joseph Burr Tyrrell.

Fact 28: Albertosaurus teeth had serrations to help slice meat more effectively. The serrations decrease the surface area of the tooth that is in contact with the flesh, massively increasing the cutting force of each ridge on the serration. 

Fact 29: A group of Albertosaur dinosaur skeletons were discovered lying together. Scientists believe that this finding suggests that Albertosaurus lived in herds. 

Fact 30: Most known Albertosaurus individuals lived for over 14 years. 

References:

Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4.

Title Image Credit

Nobu Tamura – Life reconstruction of Albertosaurus sarcophagusCC BY-SA 4.0

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