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Daspletosaurus torosus

Amazing Story!

Illustration of Daspletosaurus torosus.

Illustration of Daspletosaurus torosus by Ely Kish.

The time is 70 million years ago. Beyond the shore of an inland sea in what will one day become Alberta, the land rises gently. Spring floods have spread a layer of fresh mud over the open ground. New vegetation is bursting out on the magnolias in the forest. A rainbow forms as the sun breaks through clouds. In the fresh light, a group of herbivorous chasmosaurine dinosaurs munch on shrubs along the shore.

Suddenly, with silent determination, a huge carnivorous dinosaur bursts out of the shadow of the forest; the ravenous, sharp-eyed predator has spotted prey. Long strides bring the carnivore alongside the chasmosaurs, who form themselves into a tight defensive circle. Heads down, the chasmosaurs brandish their horns and massive frills at the enemy. Selecting a victim, the hunter smashes into it at 20 kilometres per hour. Its massive skull absorbs the crushing impact with ease.

The head of a Daspletosaurus torosus model.

Daspletosaurus torosus model.

Avoiding the desperate lunge and sharp spikes of its victim, the carnivore seizes the chasmosaur's neck with its huge jaws, clamping on with its serrated teeth and tearing the flesh. The struggles of the unfortunate chasmosaur drive the curved teeth deeper. It falls and the carnivore rolls with it, maintaining its deadly grip. Within moments, the chasmosaur is still.

The remaining chasmosaurs stand their ground. Another large carnivorous dinosaur emerges from the woods, followed by two smaller, younger ones. As the remaining prey back away, the family of predators descends on the downed dinosaur, tearing at the carcass and swallowing the flesh in huge chunks.

These fearsome carnivores are tyrannosaurids now known as Daspletosaurus torosus. Seventy million years after these predators hunted their last, C.M. Sternberg discovered the fossilized bones of one of these "frightful, fleshy lizards" on the banks of a river in Alberta. Forty-nine years after that, Dale Russell identified it.

Daspletosaurus torosus skull CMNFV8506.

Daspletosaurus torosus skull.
Catalogue: CMNFV8506

Tyrannosaurids, the "tyrant lizards", are the best-known family of dinosaurs and are the largest terrestrial carnivores that ever lived. They appeared in Late Cretaceous times around 80 million years ago. Most of them vanished during the mysterious mass extinction of all dinosaurs, 65 million years ago. For some unknown reason, Daspletosaurus torosus came to an end about three million years before the great dinosaur extinction.

Daspletosaurus torosus was an enormous animal, almost nine metres in length and weighing 3 tonnes. This stocky and powerful meat-eater had the largest teeth of any of the tyrannosaurids (larger even than those of its cousin, the 14-metre-long Tyrannosaurus rex). Each tooth was dagger-sharp, curved, and saw-edged. With its formidable teeth and jaws, clawed feet, and sheer bulk, Daspletosaurus torosus was easily capable of killing even the largest of its herbivorous prey. Like other tyrannosaurids, this species also had a pair of small, two-fingered hands.


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    A life-sized model of Daspletosaurus torosus.
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