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Alioramus

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alioramus

Alioramus (Vladimir Nikolov)

Name:

Alioramus (Greek for "different branch"); pronounced AH-lee-oh-RAY-muss

Habitat:

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (70-65 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 20 feet long and 500-1,000 pounds

Diet:

Herbivorous dinosaurs

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Numerous teeth; bony crests on snout

About Alioramus:

An awful lot has been abstracted about Alioramus ever since a single, incomplete skull was discovered in Mongolia in 1976. Paleontologists believe this dinosaur was a medium-sized tyrannosaur closely related to another Asian meat-eater, Tarbosaurus, from which it differed in both its size and in the distinctive crests running along its snout.

As with many dinosaurs reconstructed from partial fossil specimens, though, not everyone agrees that Alioramus was a genuine tyrannosaur. Some paleontologists maintain that it was a juvenile Tarbosaurus, or perhaps not a tyrannosaur at all but a different kind of carnivorous theropod altogether (hence this dinosaur's name, which means "different branch").

A recent discovery shows that Alioramus was even more bizarre than previously thought. It turns out that this presumed tyrannosaur sported eight horns on its skull, each about five inches long, the purpose of which is still a mystery (though they were likely a sexually selected characteristic--that is, males with bigger horns had more of an opportunity to mate with females).

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