An Ultimate Guide to Tyrannotitan: The Tyrant Giant

Leave a comment / / Updated on: 23rd September 2023

NameTyrannotitanDietCarnivorous
Name Meaning“Tyrant Titan”Height4.5–5 meters (15–16.5 feet)
PronunciationTie-ran-oh-ty-tanLength12–13 meters (40–43 feet)
EraMesozoicEarly CretaceousWeight7 tons (15400 lbs)
ClassificationDinosauria,‭ Saurischia & TheropodaLocationArgentina (South America)

Tyrannotitan Pictures

Tyrannotitan 3D Illustration
Tyrannotitan 3D Illustration | CoreyFord via iStock

The Tyrannotitan

Gage Beasley Prehistoric's Tyrannotitan Concept
Gage Beasley Prehistoric’s Tyrannotitan Concept

Tyrannotitan is a genus of large bipedal dinosaurs discovered in Argentina. 

It lived during the Early Cretaceous Period and is considered a close relative of other giant predators such as the Giganotosaurus, Mapusaurus, and Carcharodontosaurus that were native to the Southern Hemisphere too. 

Although very similar to the T-rex and other tyrannosaurid dinosaurs in size and appearance (and name), the Tyrannosaurus was not related to them. 

But like the North American tyrannosaurids, it was an apex predator that ruled the South American landscape for several million years. 

Tyrannotitan is the earliest-known large carnivore from the Southern Hemisphere.

Tyrannotitan walking 3D render
Tyrannotitan walking 3D render | Elenarts108 via iStock

It was first discovered in 2005 by Fernando E. Novas, Silvina de Valais, Pat Vickers-Rich, and Tom Rich. 

The dinosaur is known from one incomplete remains. 

Most of what we know about this dinosaur is based on these fragmentary remains and comparisons with other members of the carcharodontosaurid family. 

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most interesting facts about the Tyrannotitan

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

Physical Characteristics

As the name suggests, the Tyrannotitan was a massive dinosaur. 

It grew to lengths of about 12.2 to 13 meters (40–43 feet) and was up to 4.3 meters tall at the hips. 

Gage Beasley Prehistoric's Tyrannotitan Size Comparison Chart
Gage Beasley Prehistoric’s Tyrannotitan Size Comparison Chart

These dimensions make the Tyrannotitan comparable in size to other large carcharodontosaurid theropods like Giganotosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus.

Unlike other carcharodontosaurids known to exhibit skeletal pneumaticity (presence of air sacs within the bones), the Tyrannotitan’s bones were dense. 

As a result, it may have been heavier than some of its close relatives, with a body mass of 4.8 to seven tons. 

It had a long muscular tail which helped with balance and agility. 

Tyrannotitan likely had a robust and muscular build. 

Tyrannotitan in-stride
Tyrannotitan in-stride | CoreyFord via iStock

It was bipedal, so its body was supported by a pair of strong hind limbs.

Tyrannotitan had proportionately tiny forearms, more similar to that of the tyrannosaurid dinosaurs than those of its close relatives in the carcharodontosaurid family. 

This has prompted comparison to the North American theropods despite not being related to them. 

As a theropod predator, Tyrannotitan had a large skull with massive jaws filled with several sharp serrated teeth. 

The powerful jaws and sharp teeth were useful for capturing and tearing prey apart. 

Tyrannotitan had no plates or spikes, but its body was probably covered in scales. 

Habitat and Distribution

Tyrannotitan lived during the Late Cretaceous Period, approximately 95 to 90 million years ago. 

Fossil evidence suggests that this genus inhabited what is now the continent of South America. 

Specifically, Tyrannotitan fossils have been found in the Cerro Barcino Formation in Argentina. 

Scientists think the geographic range of this dinosaur was restricted to the southern part of the continent. 

During the time of Tyrannotitan’s existence, the South American continent had a warm and humid climate. 

Global temperatures were generally high due to elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

3D illustration of Tyrannotitan enjoying the lush environment
3D illustration of Tyrannotitan enjoying the lush environment | MR1805 via iStock

The South American landmass was located closer to the southern polar regions, resulting in variations such as longer daylight hours during the summer and extended periods of darkness in the winter.

The ecosystem of the Late Cretaceous in South America was diverse and rich, with the region being primarily composed of lush, lowland forests and extensive river systems. 

These environments provided a favorable habitat for different organisms, especially herbivorous dinosaurs that the Tyrannotitan and other South American predators preyed on. 

Behavior and Diet

Tyrannotitan was a bipedal dinosaur, meaning it walked and ran on its two powerful hind limbs. 

It probably had a strong and agile gait and was capable of moving swiftly to catch up with prey. 

Tyrannotitan in pursuit of a hadrosaur
Tyrannotitan in pursuit of a hadrosaur I MR1805 via iStock

This dinosaur’s forelimbs were relatively short and were only useful for grasping and restraining prey. 

The social behavior of Tyrannotitan is uncertain because there’s no direct evidence of group behavior in this dinosaur and its relatives. 

Some theropod dinosaurs may have exhibited both solitary and social behaviors at different stages of their lives.

It is possible that Tyrannotitan lived in groups as juveniles while adults would have been more territorial. 

Tyrannotitan was an apex predator.

As a carnivore, its diet would have consisted of other dinosaurs and smaller animals present on the South American continent at the time.

It was heavily built and capable of taking down large prey. 

Three Tyrannotitans attacking an Argentinosaurus | Elenarts108 via iStock

Tyrannotitan had a long snout filled with sharp, serrated teeth that were well-suited for capturing and tearing apart flesh. 

Although the dinosaur’s teeth do not seem to be as well developed compared to those of its other relatives, it was still capable of hunting and killing sauropods like the Chubutisaurus

Tyrannotitan was an active predator, using its massive size, speed, and agility to pursue and capture prey. 

It likely used a combination of ambush and pursuit hunting strategy when hunting prey, relying on a quick attack once it was close enough to its victims. 

Tyrannotitans were probably scavengers too. 

Scientists once found 57 Tyrannotitan teeth in association with fossils of the Patagotitan

This is an indication that they probably scavenged on the bodies of these giant predators and may have also preyed on them while they were alive. 

Life Cycle

Tyrannotitans with their young
Tyrannotitans with their young | CoreyFord via iStock

Our understanding of the Tyrannotitan’s life cycle is based mainly on general knowledge about the reproduction and lifecycle of other theropod dinosaurs and comparison with some of its close relatives. 

Tyrannotitan reproduced sexually. 

Females laid eggs in nests that were either underground or covered in vegetation to incubate them until they hatched. 

Once hatched, juveniles were probably on their own, as there’s no evidence of parental care in this group of dinosaurs. 

Tyrannotitan juveniles probably grew rapidly and continued to undergo significant growth and development throughout their lives, which would have made it possible to grow to such a large size. 

Juveniles would have started off relatively small and vulnerable, quickly going through a period of rapid growth that led to an overall increase in their size, skeletal structure, and musculature. 

Evolution and History

Carcharodontosauridae size comparison chart
Carcharodontosauridae size comparison chart | KoprX via License

Tyrannotitan belongs to the family Carcharodontosauridae, a theropod dinosaur group that includes some of the largest terrestrial predators ever known, such as the Giganotosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus. 

These dinosaurs shared a common ancestry and probably evolved early in the Cretaceous Period. 

The Tyrannotitan was one of the earliest members of this family. 

Scientists think carcharodontosaurid theropods descended directly from the allosaurids. 

One evidence for this seen in the Tyrannotitan was its dentition. 

The Tyrannotitan’s teeth were not as well developed as that of the other carcharodontosaurids but were partly similar to that of the Allosaurus

Tyrannotitan skull reconstruction - Eotyrannu5 via Istock
Tyrannotitan skull reconstruction | Eotyrannu5 via iStock

This has raised speculations that this dinosaur represents a transitional form as the allosaurids evolved into carcharodontosaurids. 

Tyrannotitan teeth had denticles with grooves that further divided them into grooves. 

These denticles provided an additional cutting surface that helped the dinosaur pierce through flesh more effectively. 

These tooth denticles are not seen in later species of carcharodontosaurid dinosaurs, suggesting that the evolutionary adaptation was not carried forward to their descendants. 

Interactions with Other Species

Tyrannotitan was an apex predator in its native ecosystem. 

The region of South America had a lush forest that supported various large herbivores, including the titanosaurs and hadrosaurs. 

Smaller theropod dinosaurs were also present in the region. 

Tyrannotitan feasts on Chubutisaurus
Tyrannotitan feasts on Chubutisaurus | FunkMonk (Michael B. H.) via License

The Cerro Barcino Formation in Argentina, where fossils of this dinosaur were found, contained fossils of titanosaurs such as Chubutisaurus and Patagotitan

These were large herbivores that may have served as common prey species for the Tyrannotitan

The carnivore probably pursued and hunted vulnerable members of this group, such as young and weak individuals. 

Other large theropods similar in size to the Tyrannotitan also existed in southern South America. 

These carnivores would have competed with each other for food and resources. 

Some of the close relatives of the Tyrannotitan, such as the Giganotosaurus and Mapusaurus, would have hunted similar prey, potentially leading to competition between them.

Gage Beasley Prehistoric's Mapusaurus Concept
Tyrannotitan likely crossed paths with Mapusaurus

The relationship between these large carnivores may have also been predatory, with large Tyrannotitan feeding on the juveniles of other theropods and vice versa. 

Cultural Significance

Although not as popular as other dinosaur species like the Tyrannosaurus, Tyrannotitan holds both cultural and scientific significance. 

The dinosaur’s similarity with the North American tyrannosaurids has prompted comparison between both dinosaur groups. 

With a name like Tyrannotitan, it’s easy to see why this dinosaur is often confused with the tyrannosaurid group. 

In fact, some scientists once speculated that it was probably a tyrannosaurid due to the similarities in their appearance. 

However, this has been proven to be unlikely. 

That’s because the landmass of South America was geographically isolated during the Early Cretaceous. 

3D illustration with the dinosaur Tyrannotitan in the fog -
3D illustration with the dinosaur Tyrannotitan in the fog | MR1805 via iStock

Since it was not connected to the landmass of North America and Africa, where tyrannosaurids existed at the time, it means none of them would have been able to reach South America at the time Tyrannotitan lived there. 

The Tyrannotitan is known from limited fossil remains. 

Yet, fossils of this dinosaur and that of its contemporaries provide a lot of scientific insight into the ecosystems of Late Cretaceous South America.

Apex predator species like the Tyrannotitan help us understand the interactions between the carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaurs that lived on the continent as well as the overall ecological dynamics of the period. 

So while Tyrannotitan is not well known to the general public, fossils of this dinosaur remain an important piece of the ecological puzzle of ancient landscapes and the interaction between the different species that lived on them. 

Conclusion

Tyrannotitan was a large bipedal dinosaur that lived in South America during the Early Cretaceous Period. 

Fossils of this dinosaur were first discovered in Argentina in 2005, and it is believed to be one of the apex predators that lived on the continent at the time. 

In fact, Tyrannotitan is the earliest-known massive carnivore from the Southern Hemisphere. 

It was an agile predator that hunted large titanosaurs like the Chubutisaurus.

It may have also hunted other smaller animals as well including other theropods. 

The powerful jaws and sharp serrated teeth of this dinosaur were well-adapted for tearing into flesh. 

Despite the similarities of this dinosaur to the tyrannosaurids, the Tyrannotitan is not related to them. 

Instead, it was a member of a different group of dinosaurs known as the carcharodontosaurids. 

Members of this group evolved from the allosaurid dinosaurs early in the Cretaceous Period. 

Like the tyrannosaurids in North America, carcharodontosaurids were apex predators in South America. 

Therefore, studying the fossil of the Tyrannotitan and those of its relatives provides a lot of insights into the ecological dynamics of Cretaceous South America and how the various prey and predator species that lived there interacted with each other.

FAQs

How did Tyrannotitan get its name?

The name “Tyrannotitan” is derived from Greek roots. “Tyranno” means “tyrant,” referring to its position as a large predatory dinosaur, and “titan” signifies its large size. 

The name reflects its status as a powerful and dominant creature.

How big was Tyrannotitan?

Tyrannotitan reached lengths of around 40 to 45 feet (12 to 14 meters) and weighed approximately seven tons. 

This makes it one of the largest theropod dinosaurs discovered in South America.

Did Tyrannotitan have any natural defenses against predators or rivals?

Tyrannotitan likely relied on its size, strength, and predatory adaptations as its primary defense against threats.

It had sharp teeth and powerful jaws for capturing and killing prey. 

However, as an apex predator, it may not have faced significant threats from other dinosaurs within its ecosystem.

How fast could Tyrannotitan run?

The exact running speed of Tyrannotitan is difficult to determine since it depends on various factors such as its muscular anatomy and overall agility. 

As a large theropod, it is estimated to have had a fast running speed, potentially reaching speeds of around 30 to 40 miles per hour (48–64 kilometers per hour).

What were the closest relatives of Tyrannotitan?

Tyrannotitan belongs to the family Carcharodontosauridae, which includes other large theropods such as Giganotosaurus, Mapusaurus, and Carcharodontosaurus

These dinosaurs are considered close relatives due to shared characteristics and a common evolutionary lineage.

When did Tyrannotitan live?

Tyrannotitan lived during the Early Cretaceous Period, approximately 121 to 113 million years ago.

It is one of the earliest large theropod dinosaurs known from the Southern Hemisphere. 

Sources:

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Jerry Young is a self-proclaimed prehistoric animal nerd. He has been fascinated with these ancient creatures for as long as he can remember, and his passion for them continues to this day. With his extensive knowledge and love for prehistoric animals, he is the perfect fit for Gage Beasley Prehistoric.

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