The history of life on earth



Images and animal profiles

Here you can find my drawings and descriptions of selected animals.

Creature of the week: Tyrannosaurus rex skull: FMNH PR 2081, or better "Sue" is and remains one of the largest and most impressive theropods known, measuring a whole 12,3m in axial lenght and probably weighing in at more than 6t, and of those it is definitely the most complete. Despite the name, sue's gender is unknown, it might be male. The skull of this specimen, despite being badly crushed, is exceptioanlly well preserved--and yet the size figures vary quite a bit depending on how it is decrushed. The most complete osteology of a theropod that I'm aware of lists the dimension given in the diagram. This specimen is definitely among the widest, most voluminous tetrapod skulls known. Surprisingly, and despite T. rex reputation concerning its bite force as well as for being particularly big headed, among of the records sue does not hold are both skull depth and lenght. Maybe the most well known specimen of any dinosaur, and certainly one of the most important ones.

Creatures of the week: Mapusaurus roseae' and Giganotosaurus carolinii' skulls: Another comparison fo two huge theropod crania: Both are from South America, both are carcharodontosaurs, but Mapusaurus is a few million years younger. Here I've showed both of their largest skulls compared. While probably smaller than Giganotosaurus, it is obvious the corresponding animal was far larger than the often-miscited 10,2m. Furthermore, the largest remains attributed to the species are 103-110% those of the Giganotosaurus holotype in linear dimensions, meaning the biggest specimens might have had the longest skull of any theropod.

Creatures of the week: Carcharodontosaurus saharicus' and Spinosaurus aegyptiacus' skulls: The crania of two of the largest terrestrial predators ever compared; Carcharodontosaurus saharicus was a gigantic carnosaur, likely more than 13m in lenght, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus was a megalosauroid spinosaur conservatively estimated at more than 14m. Both lived in cenomanian Africa and are known from several fragmentary collections. The displayed skulls are the reconstructed cranial remains of the each species' largest specimen, the neotype SGM-DIN 1 (Sereno et al., 1996) of C.saharicus, a nicely preserved skull missing the premaxillae, quadrates, quadratojugals and squamosals, and the specimen MSNM V4047 (Dal Sasso et al., 2005) of S. aegyptiacus, consisting of a rostrum nearly a metre in lenght. The unknown parts where restored after related animals (Acrocanthosaurus atokensis, Irritator challengeri, Suchomimus tenerensis).

Creature of the week: Leedsichthys problematicus: This huge fished name is probably one of the most fitting names ever given in the history of nomenclature, because estimating it´s proportions and dimensions has proven so problematic. searching for it on the internet you can find all kinds of astronomic size figures, including 27m from BBC's Walking with sea monsters and 12-22m from wikipedia. It is commonly believed to be the largest “fish” ever, ranking even higher than the gigantic lamnid Carcharocles megalodon, but was it? New revisions like Liston & Noè(2004) of this animals size do actually show it was less than 10m long! The whole scientific community is probably still wondering how such an exageration of its size could happen. The answer is easy: The same way the 25m liopleurodon “evolved”!

Creature of the week: Abelisaurus comahuensis: an impressive abelisaur from the Campanian age of Argentina. These animals probably had one of the strongest bites of all dinosaurs, and Abelisaurus was one of the largest of them, reaching up to 9m long and weighing in at more than 2t.

Picture of the week: large Theropods from the Jurassic: from left to right:Allosaurus fragilis (average ~9m), Saurophaganax maximus (maximum, 15m, includes several huge ichnotaxa not yet assigned and the mysterious german "Monster von Minden"), Ceratosaurus "ingens" (8m) and nasicornis (7m), Allosaurus fragilis (maximum, 12,1m, "Epanterias"-specimen), Yangchuanosaurus shangyouensis (11m, Y. "magnus" specimen), Sinraptor dongi (8m), Torvosaurus sp. (13m, includes one referred 79cm footprint from portugal and the referred maxilla), Eoabelisaurus mefi (7m), Cryolophosaurus ellioti (7m), Torvosaurus tanneri (9-10m), Monolophosaurus jiangi (5m), Megalosaurus bucklandii (9m), Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis (7m), Saltriosaurus sp. (8m)

Creature of the week: Puertasaurus reuili and Aerosteon riocoloradensis: A huge herbivore and the largest terrestrial carnivore it is known to have coexisted with.

Creature of the week: Torvosaurus sp. skull: This gigantic theropod from the Late Jurassic Tithonian stage of the Lourinha Formation in Portugal is often overlooked. Nevertheless its skull, measuring 158cm basing on ML 1100, an isolated Maxilla of 63cm in length, was somewhat larger than even the largest of T. rex skulls. The whole animal was estimated at >12m, making it similar to Tyrannosaurus in overall size. it is furthermore theorized that it might have had a comparable bite force. The european variant is much larger than the American Torvosaurus tanneri which reportedly measured less than 10m, although exact lenght estimates of the specimens have not been published. Another, very similar megalosauroid, Edmarka rex might be identical with Torvosaurus.

Creature of the week: Zupaysaurus rougieri: Not much is known about this 4-5m long Late Triassic theropod from South America. It was probably related to Dilophosaurus, as can be seen in the gap between praemaxillary and maxilalry teeth. Most reconstructions show it with two crests on the skull, a typical feature of dilophosaurids, which was presumed to be formed by the nasal bones, and not, like in many other theropods, also by the lacimals. A recent analysis has however cast doubt on the presence of a crest, deducing that it could have been formed by lacrimals being dislocated dring fossilisation. The skull measured about 45cm in lenght, suggesting that it was among the rather large Triassic theropods, together with the european Liliensternus liliensterni.

Creature of the week: Cryolophosaurus ellioti: C. ellioti is a dubious, Lower Jurassic theropod from the Antarctic. Some consider it a basal tetanuran, thus being among the first representatives of that lineage, maybe together with Saltriosaurus. Others consider it a dilophosaurian coelophysid, an assumption backed by the gap and fossa between praemaxillary and maxillary teeth, which is also found in dilophosaurus. With a lenght of ~7m it represents one of the largest theropods of it´s time period. In overall built it was probably a relatively slender animal, weighing significantly less than 1t, a feature that most likely made it a fast runner. This further confirms the tought of it being a dilophosaur.

Creature of the week: Jeholornis prima : This basal avialan from the Jiufotang Formation of Early Cretaceous China is possibly the earliest and most primitive bird known. It shows several primitive characteristics, such as its short, high skull. J. prima was among the largest Mesozoic birds, reaching nearly 1m in lenght.

Creature of the week: Pliosaurus macromerus: This huge predator might in fact be the largest pliosaur ever. While estimates have varied between 13 and 18m, one thing is certain: this upper Jurassic monster was an enourmous predator of the seas. At its maximum estimate, it could have weighed 40t, and it possibly had the strongest bite force of all time, exceeding 20t.

Creature of the week: Allosaurus fragilis: Who doesn´t know Allosaurus? But who knew that the largest specimen (often referred to as Epanterias) was nearly as long as the largest known T. rex? Anyway, Allosaurus was a magnificent animal in every way. It was remarkably fast, it had huge claws and it could use it´s neck muscles to transform it´s maxilla into a hatchet.

Creature of the week: Gargoyleosaurus parkpinorum, an upper jurassic ankylosaur of about 3-4m in lenght, weighing up to 1t. G. parkpinorum is among the earliest ankylosaurs known to science.

Creature of the week: Mosasaurus hoffmanni: at 15-18m and 10-20t the largest known mosasaur and the largest cretaceous predator, dwarfing any tyrannosaur

Creature of the week: Puertasaurus reuili: possibly the largest animal ever