Carnotaurus is a genus of large, theropod dinosaurs from late Cretaceous Argentina.
Carnotaurus is an abelisaurid — the carnivorous dinosaurs that succeeded the carcharodontosaurids and bossed Cretaceous South American ecosystems like tyrannosaurids did in the North — and being the first of its clan to be known from relatively complete remains it did a sterling job of showcasing their weird features.
Abelisaurids' comically stumpy arms, attached to massive shoulder blades, were nothing more than wrists with a couple of fused, clawless fingers. They also had a short and high skull, but Carnotaurus looked like it had suffered a particularly high fall from the ugly tree, hit every branch on the way down then landed face first, on an anvil. It had two huge, gnarly name-prompting horns above its eyes too. But it's not all bad news.
The eyes of Carnotaurus face fully forward which hints at binocular vision, and scientists recently realized that it had the largest "caudofemoralis" muscle of any land-dwelling animal ever, relative to body size. Supported by pairs of interlocking rib-like bones along the underside of its tail and attached by a tendon to a finger-like nub of bone (fourth trochanter) on the rear of each upper leg bone (thigh), this muscle was a power pack for explosive acceleration, but it came at a cost. Unfortunately, the tail-stiffening bone structure resulted in a loss of manoeuvrability and hampered quick, fluid turns, but for straight ahead A to B hunting there was no swifter large theropod dinosaur.
An unusually slim lower jaw compared to the extremely deep skull to which it was attached raised questions about its feeding habits that so far no-one has been able to answer. But what we can be sure of, thanks to preserved skin impressions, is that Carnotaurus bucked what had become something of a trend with recent discoveries of our filament or fluff-adorned friends by being a theropod dinosaur that definitely wasn't feathered.
The first fossils of Carnotaurus were discovered at "Estancia Pocho Sastre" in the La Colonia Formation (initially thought to be from the older Gorro Frigio aka Cerro Barcino Formation), Chubut Province, Argentina, by José F. Bonaparte in 1985. The holotype (MACN-CH 894) is a skull and partial skeleton with some skin impressions.
Carnotaurus is derived from the Latin "carnis" (flesh) and "taurus" (bull) alluding to the peculiar large horn-like projections on its skull, and to its carnivorous diet. The species epithet, sastrei, honors Don Angel Sastre - owner of the farm/ranch where its remains were discovered.
In The Land Before TimeWithin the Land Before Time series, Carnotaurus, or the Horned Sharptooth, makes its debut in The Land Before Time XIV: Journey of the Brave as the film's third and final antagonist. The Horned Sharptooth briefly appears to attack Cera, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike while they are separated from Littlefoot. He later appears searching for easy prey, and nearly discovers Grandpa Longneck, Mr. Threehorn, Wild Arms, Chomper and Ruby, before being distracted by a passing flock of Archaeornithomimus, which he chases away.
Accuracy-wise, the Carnotaurus's film reconstruction is heavily flawed. Its horns are bovine-like in structure, its body is much too beefy and fat, its skull is significantly more "shrink-wrapped" than previous Sharpteeth in the series, and its arms are rather long, and have three visible digits; as opposed to being stumpy, and with its four fingers fused into a fleshy "mitten" of sorts.