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Top 10 Biggest Dinosaur Carnivores

Jeremy explores many topics as he juggles his passion for writing with his career as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

The Largest Dinosaur Predators

Dinosaurs remain one of life's literal biggest mysteries—scientists still aren't sure why they got so big, what exactly finished them off, and what they really looked like. Fossils only reveal so much, and many are incomplete, further complicating the task.

That said, we've got a pretty good idea about the basic structures of most. While prehistoric carnivores aren't actually the biggest dinos (many herbivores outweigh them), they didn't need to be, devouring prey with their massive jaws—which were heftiest? Judging by length, these are the ten biggest land-based carnivorous dinosaurs!

Deltadromeus

Deltadromeus

10. Deltadromeus

Time Period: Cretaceous
Estimated max length: 13.3 m

Despite his size, Deltadromeus has unusually slim legs, giving a raptor-like appearance and suggesting he was a swift runner. With incomplete skeletons to study, the animal's skull remains a mystery.

Mapusaurus

Mapusaurus

9. Mapusaurus

Time Period: Cretaceous
Estimated max length: 13.7 m

A close relative of the similarly-gargantuan Gigantosaurus, Mapusaurus fossils have been found clustered together. This indicates they likely hunted as a group, a social behavior rarely seen in large dinosaur carnivores, allowing a pack to challenge enormous herbivores like Argentinosaurus.

Saurophaganax

Saurophaganax

8. Saurophaganax

Time Period: Jurassic
Estimated max length: 14 m

Sometimes classified as a type of Allosaurus, Saurophaganax nonetheless currently contains his own genus. With very few fossils, he's a remains a rare dinosaur whose behavior still eludes us, but bears resemblances to T-rex.

Oxalaia

Oxalaia

7. Oxalaia

Time Period: Cretaceous
Estimated max length: 14 m

Belonging to the same spinosaurid family as the infamous Spinosaurus, Oxalia shares many of its features, including a webbed spine and crocodile-like appearance. Many scientists believe their spines formed sail-like structures used for swimming, but some think they were actually humps of fat similar to camels!

Carcharodontosaurus

Carcharodontosaurus

6. Carcharodontosaurus

Time Period: Cretaceous
Estimated max length: 14 m

The original Carcharodontosaurus fossils were destroyed during World War 2; fortunately, new ones arose that helped scientists study it. Based on its jaw size, Carcharodontosaurus could evidently lift prey of up to 424 kilograms (935 pounds)!

Giganotosaurus

Giganotosaurus

5. Giganotosaurus

Time Period: Cretaceous
Estimated max length: 14 m

Giganotosaurus provides a good example of why dinosaur size is hard to judge. With incomplete fossils, it's tough to accurately gauge his girth, with some scientists placing him above even T-rex. Either way, Gigantosaurus was an apex predator capable of running up to 31 miles per hour, bolstering his fearsome size with surprising speed.

Sigilmassasaurus

Sigilmassasaurus

4. Sigilmassasaurus

Time Period: Cretaceous
Estimated max length: 14.4 m

Named after the ancient Moroccan city Sijilmasa, this beast resembles Spinosaurus, similarly hunting in both land and water. The above image shows one with a hump rather than webbed spine, illustrating a different perspective on what these partially-aquatic dinos may have looked like.

Epanterias

Epanterias

3. Epanterias

Time Period: Jurassic
Estimated max length: 15.2 m

Despite his size, you may not have heard much about this predator because scientists aren't sure whether he's actually his own species, or a misidentified Allosaurus. Because of this confusion, we know very little about this species, but even if he is just an Allosaurus, he proves they can grow larger than originally thought.

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Tyrannosaurus Rex

2. Tyrannosaurus Rex

Time Period: Cretaceous
Estimated max length: 15.7 m

The most infamous dinosaur of all, T-rex was one of the last to exist before their infamous extinction (theorized to have been caused be a meteor collision). Though T-rex narrowly misses top spot for estimated length, he's believed to possess the strongest bite strength, cementing his status as king of the dinosaurs.

Despite all that power, many scientists believe T-rex scavenged as much as he hunted, feeding on already-dead prey when available. Some also believe they were partially feathered, again challenging our notions of them.

Spinosaurus

Spinosaurus

1. Spinosaurus

Time Period: Cretaceous
Estimated max length: 18 m

The second best-known theropod after T-rex, Spinosaurus reigns supreme in terms of length and weight. His snout-like jaw made him skilled at hunting fish, but the exact function of his trademark spine remains unknown; many suggest heat regulation, intimidation, or even courtship.

His flexible tail could strike water and scatter fish, and he controversially defeated a T-rex in Jurassic Park 3.

Other Large Dinosaurs

Today we explored the biggest land-based carnivores to ever walk Earth, but don't forget about prehistoric aquatic reptiles like Plesiosaurus, who could grow to 15 meters long. And of course, herbivores like Brachiosaurus far out-massed even the biggest predators.

We'll tackle these behemoths another day, but for now, vote for your favorite carnivore and I'll see you at our next dinosaur countdown!

© 2020 Jeremy Gill

Comments

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on February 11, 2020:

I'm happy to read about them rather than experience them. I know about all the questions in the field, and how these things can cause strange persons to doubt they ever existed...oh well.

It's all proof to me the world is far older than what was once thought, and that our world can change, and not just a little, it can change a huge amount, although our parameters for time leave us rather incapable of assessing it all accurately.