An Ultimate Guide to Carcharodontosaurus: Shark Toothed

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Name MeaningShark-toothed lizard birdHeight4 meters (13 feet)
Pronunciationkar-kah-roh-DON-toh-SAWR-usLength12–14 meters (39-46 feet)
EraMesozoicEarly CretaceousWeight6.6–16 tons (14,000–35,000 lbs)
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia & TheropodaLocationMorocco, Algeria, Niger (North Africa) 

Carcharodontosaurus Pictures

Carcharodontosaurus | CoreyFord via iStock

The Carcharodontosaurus

Gage Beasley Prehistoric's Carcharodontosaurus Concept
Gage Beasley Prehistoric’s Carcharodontosaurus Concept

The T. rex was one of the most popular carnivorous dinosaurs

Rightly nicknamed the king of tyrant lizards, most people assume the Tyrannosaurus was the largest of all the killer dinosaurs. 

But the Carcharodontosaurus is a worthy contender for that title. 

Native to North Africa, Carcharodontosaurus was arguably one of the largest and most formidable dinosaurs of the Cretaceous Period. 

And it was unique too. 

Instead of the typical dentition of other theropods, Carcharodontosaurus had massive serrated teeth, more similar to that of modern sharks.

The dinosaur’s name translates as shark-tooth lizard, a reference to the dentition of the great white shark (Carcharodon).

Carcharodontosaurus also had an interesting paleontological history. 

Gage Beasley's Prehistoric Shirt Collection
Gage Beasley’s Prehistoric Shirt Collection
Gage Beasley's Prehistoric Plush Collection
Gage Beasley’s Prehistoric Plush Collection

The first fossil of this dinosaur was destroyed during the second world war and wasn’t rediscovered until the 1990s, several decades after its initial discovery. 

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most interesting facts about the dinosaur, which is sometimes referred to as the T. rex of Africa.

Physical Characteristics

Pelvis and left hindlimb of IPHG 1922 X46 (destroyed)
Pelvis and left hindlimb of IPHG 1922 X46 (destroyed) | Ernst Stromer via Wikipedia Public Domain

Carcharodontosaurus had the typical build of theropod dinosaurs. 

It had a large and narrow head supported by a long muscular neck.

The dinosaur also had powerful hind legs and a long tail to balance its massive body.

The forelimbs of this dinosaur were comparatively smaller than its hindlimbs. 

But it wasn’t entirely vestigial like that of the T. rex

It was probably useful for grasping prey, and it is also possible that the dinosaur used its forelimbs for balance while walking. 

Carcharodontosaurus was one of the largest theropod dinosaurs ever discovered. 

Gage Beasley's Carcharodontosaurus Size Comparison Chart
Gage Beasley’s Carcharodontosaurus Size Comparison Chart

It grew to an average length of about 12–12.5 meters (39–41 ft) and weighed about 6 tons. 

This massive length, combined with the dinosaur’s 6-ton weight, made it quite an imposing and formidable predator.

Carcharodontosaurus had a large but lightly-built skull. 

The skull may have been as long as 1.5 meters or about 4.9 feet on average. 

The rest of the dinosaur’s body was robust but quite streamlined. 

Habitat and Distribution

Carcharodontosaurus lived from the middle to late Cretaceous Period, approximately 100 to 94 million years ago. 

Fossil evidence suggests that this formidable dinosaur inhabited regions that are now part of northern Africa. 

Specifically, its remains have been found in countries such as Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, indicating that it had a relatively wide geographic range that covered parts of these continents.

During the time of Carcharodontosaurus’ existence, the Earth’s continents had a different configuration.

The region that is now northern Africa was situated much closer to the equator, resulting in a warm and humid climate. 

This region was part of the ancient supercontinent Gondwana, which included the landmasses of South America, Africa, Antarctica, India, and Australia.

North Africa bordered the Tethys Sea to its north during the Cretaceous.

Restoration of fauna of the Bahariya Formation, with C. saharicus in the center
Restoration of fauna of the Bahariya Formation, with C. saharicus in the center | Andrew McAfee via Wikipedia CC BY 4.0

The ancient sea transformed the region into a mangrove-dominated coastal plain. 

The specific habitat of the Carcharodontosaurus’ habitat was lush, dense forests with extensive river systems.

The presence of fossils from various other dinosaurs, as well as plant remains, indicates a diverse ecosystem with abundant vegetation.

Behavior and Diet

Although it was a massive theropod, Carcharodontosaurus was a lightweight and agile dinosaur. 

It was bipedal, meaning it walked on two legs. 

Its powerful hind limbs and long tail likely made it easier for this dinosaur to maintain balance and stability while on the move.

Despite its size, experts believe Carcharodontosaurus was a fast runner. 

Based on the fossilized footprints of this dinosaur, a top speed of about 20 miles per hour has been proposed for this dinosaur. 

Carcharodontosaurus was capable of running quickly and could run for long stretches at a time while pursuing prey.  

Carcharodontosaurus hunting
Carcharodontosaurus hunting | CoreyFord via iStock

Carcharodontosaurus was an active predator that dominated the terrestrial habitats of Northern Africa. 

This dinosaur’s massive jaws were lined with at least 62 teeth, each an efficient 6.8 centimeters (2.7 inches) long weapon. 

The Carcharodontosaurus’ teeth were the longest of all theropod dinosaurs. 

The dinosaur’s teeth were straight and laterally flattened, similar in appearance to that of modern great white sharks. 

Despite this formidable dentition, the Carcharodontosaurus’ jaws were not very muscular.

 It could only deliver a bite force of about 3,000 pounds per square inch (psi).

While this is high for most carnivores, the bite force is low in comparison to other large theropods, such as the Tyrannosaurus (12,800 psi). 

Portrait view of a reconstructed Carcharodontosaurus head
Portrait view of a reconstructed Carcharodontosaurus head | tane-mahuta via iStock

Carcharodontosaurus was easily the largest terrestrial predator in North Africa when it was alive. 

It preyed on large sauropod dinosaurs like the Paralititan and Aegyptosaurus that were present in the region during the Early and Middle Cretaceous Period. 

Although there’s no conclusive evidence for this, Carcharodontosaurus probably hunted in packs. 

This would have made it easier for them to take down the large sauropods that they hunted as prey. 

Carcharodontosaurus had large optic nerves, which would have made their eyesight very effective. 

But the position of the dinosaur’s eyes on the sides of its head instead of the front of its face like other predators suggests that its eyesight was probably very poor. 

They did have a well-developed sense of smell which could have been very useful for finding prey. 

Carcharodontosaurus ready to ambush
Carcharodontosaurus ready to ambush | CoreyFord via iStock

Carcharodontosaurus was most likely an ambush predator. 

Dinosaurs that hunt this way got as close to prey as possible before delivering a lethal attack with their massive jaws and teeth. 

In addition to their knife-like shape, the serration on the Carcharodontosaurus may have contained toxic bacteria. 

A bite from this dinosaur would have left a toxic wound that could cause its prey to bleed out. 

Life Cycle

Like other theropod dinosaurs, Carcharodontosaurus most likely reproduced sexually. 

After mating, female Carcharodontosaurus laid eggs in nests built on the ground. 

So far, scientists have found no evidence that this dinosaur exhibited any form of parental care for its young.  

This means they probably left their eggs unattended. 

Juvenile Carcharodontosaurus
Juvenile Carcharodontosaurus | Sergey Krasovskiy via GettyImages

Juvenile Carcharodontosaurus offspring hatched from these eggs after a short incubation period and were on their own right from birth.

They were independent, hunting small prey to survive. 

Carcharodontosaurus, like most dinosaurs, underwent rapid growth during its early stages of life. 

Evolution and History

Carcharodontosaurus belonged to the family Carcharodontosauridae, along with other large terrestrial predators such as Giganotosaurus and Mapusaurus

This group of massive theropods were widespread during the mid-Cretaceous Period and were among the largest predators in their respective ecosystem. 

The evolutionary history of this family of dinosaurs can be traced back to ancestors that lived during the Early Jurassic Period.

Allosaurus fragilis in a forest | libre de droit via iStock

Carcharodontosaurus shares a common ancestor with the allosaurid dinosaurs such as Allosaurus.

Members of this group share several similar anatomical features. 

Their direct ancestors likely evolved during the Jurassic Period, approximately 180 to 170 million years ago.

As Carcharodontosaurus and other members of the carcharodontosaurid family evolved, they developed several unique adaptations that distinguished them from their ancestors and closest relatives.

Carcharodontosaurus skull
Carcharodontosaurus skull | Eotyrannu5 via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0

One of their most distinctive features was their elongated and narrow skulls, with jaws lined with long serrated teeth. 

This would have given them a specialized advantage for hunting and consuming large prey.

Given its size, Carcharodontosaurus evolved to become the apex predator in its ecosystem. 

Interactions With Other Species

Carcharodontosaurus lived in Cretaceous North Africa, which was home to several gigantic dinosaurs, especially theropods and sauropods. 

This dinosaur shared the same habitat and lived around the same time as the Spinosaurus. Both dinosaurs were almost the same size.  

Spinosaurus | Warpaintcobra via iStock

However, they most likely didn’t compete directly for food. 

That’s because the Spinosaurus was most likely a piscivore that lived on fish, while the 

Carcharodontosaurus hunted terrestrial prey such as sauropod dinosaurs.

In fact, adult Carcharodontosaurus may have preyed on young, wounded, or vulnerable Spinosaurus.

The two species of Carcharodontosaurus coexisted together in North Africa. 

Although the nature of the interaction between both species isn’t well-known, they likely competed for prey, territory, and other resources. 

Typical dinosaur prey species, such as the herbivorous groups like the ornithopods and sauropods, were not very abundant in North Africa during the Late Cretaceous. 

However, a few of them, such as Paralititan, Aegyptosaurus, and Rebbachisaurus, were present in the typical habitat of the Carcharodontosaurus

Although these were relatively large sauropods, Carcharodontosaurus was large enough to take them down, especially if they hunted in packs, as scientists suspect. 

Life restoration of C. saharicus
Life restoration of C. saharicus | Fred Wierum via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0

Some scientists argue that the pack-hunting habit of the Carcharodontosaurus isn’t accurate. 

Instead, they were probably territorial. 

If this is true, then Carcharodontosaurus likely competed for prey against other theropods and other predators, such as the crocodilian, Sarcosuchus, that was present in North Africa around the same time. 

Cultural Significance

As one of the largest theropod dinosaurs ever found, Carcharodontosaurus is one dinosaur that scientists have found fascinating for several years. 

This dinosaur has been known for over a century.

The first fossils of this dinosaur were discovered in 1914 by Paleontologist Ernst Stromer, and a detailed description was published a few years later. 

Reconstructed skull of Carcharodontosaurus | James St. John via Wikipedia CC BY 2.0

The dinosaur bones were stored in a museum in Munich, Germany, but were destroyed in 1944 during World War II.

As a result, Carcharodontosaurus became an elusive myth only known from outdated scientific literature for several decades. 

For many years, scientists didn’t know how to correctly classify this dinosaur. 

This mystery was eventually resolved in 1995 when Paleontologist Paul Sereno discovered a Carcharodontosaurus skull in the Sahara region, reviving the long-lost dinosaur once again. 

Since the Carcharodontosaurus’ rediscovery, this dinosaur has been extensively studied by scientists. 

Different aspects of this dinosaur’s life, including its size, detention, and nature of its interaction with other dinosaurs in its ecosystem, have been of significant interest to scientists.

Beyond the scientific world, the Carcharodontosaurus isn’t well-known to the general public.

Despite the lack of mainstream popularity, Carcharodontosaurus has been featured in several movies, games, documentaries, and other media. 

Some of the games that have this dinosaur as a character include Jurassic Park Builder, Jurassic Park Operation, and Ark Survival series. 

Carcharodontosaurus at Jurassic World Evolution
Carcharodontosaurus at Jurassic World Evolution | Cyrannian via JWEFandom

In the Lost World—Planet Dinosaur documentary—two Carcharodontosaurus individuals are featured fighting each other, and the winner also battles a Spinosaurus.

These are just a few instances of the Carcharodontosaurus being featured in popular media. 


Carcharodontosaurus was a massive predatory dinosaur that roamed the mangrove forests and plains of North Africa during the Middle Cretaceous Period about 90 million years ago. 

It lived alongside some of the planet’s biggest carnivores at the time, such as the famous Spinosaurus. 

Carcharodontosaurus was one of the largest terrestrial predators to have ever lived. 

It was even larger than the Tyrannosaurus rex and is often compared to the North American predator, even though both dinosaurs were not related.

Carcharodontosaurus preyed on large sauropod dinosaurs that lived in North Africa during the Late Cretaceous. 

The dinosaur’s shark-like teeth were effective for slicing through the flesh of prey. 

While we know a lot about Carcharodontosaurus today, the dinosaur was almost completely lost at some point because evidence of its existence was destroyed during world war II. 

Thankfully, nature turned up more evidence of this dinosaur’s existence, providing additional materials for scientists to study to learn more about one of the planet’s most ferocious carnivores. 


Where was the first Carcharodontosaurus discovered? 

The first Carcharodontosaurus fossil was discovered in western Algeria in the mid-1920s. 

Why did Carcharodontosaurus go extinct?

Although scientists are not entirely sure of what led to their extinction, habitat loss has been proposed as the likely cause of the decline of the massive theropod dinosaurs of Cretaceous North Africa, including the Carcharodontosaurus.

Was Carcharodontosaurus related to the Giganotosaurus

Yes, both dinosaurs are members of the family Carcharodontosauridae (shark-toothed dinosaurs). 

Giganotosaurus is one of the best-known members of this group which also includes the closely related Mapusaurus.


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