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The Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals of Alabama

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You wouldn't think of Alabama as being a hotbed of prehistoric life--but this southern state does boast a few important dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, as listed below. (See an interactive map of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals in the United States.)

1. Appalachiosaurus

appalachiosaurus
McClane Science Center
It's not often that dinosaurs are discovered in the southeastern United States, so the announcement of Appalachiosaurus in 2005 was big news. The juvenile specimen of this tyrannosaur measured about 23 feet long from head to tail, and probably weighed a bit less than a ton. Abstracting from other tyrannosaurs, paleontologists believe a full-grown Appalachiosaurus adult would have been a formidable predator of the late Cretaceous period. More about Appalachiosaurus

2. Lophorhothon

lophorhothon
London Natural History Museum
Not the most well-known dinosaur in the record books, the partial fossil of Lophorhothon (Greek for "crested nose") was discovered west of Selma, Alabama in the 1940's. Originally classified as an early hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur, Lophorhothon may yet turn out to have been a close relative of Iguanodon. Pending further fossil discoveries, we may never know the true status of this prehistoric plant-muncher.

3. Basilosaurus

basilosaurus
North American Museum of Ancient Life
Basilosaurus, the "king lizard," wasn't a dinosaur at all, or even a reptile, but a giant prehistoric whale of the Eocene epoch (about 40 to 35 million years ago). Although its remains have been dug up all over the southern United States, it was a pair of fossilized vertebrae from Alabama, discovered in the early 1940's, that stimulated intense research into this prehistoric predator. More about Basilosaurus

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