Please meet our 2021 Ambassadors!
Allosaurus (with 67% of the vote)
Ambassador Allosaurus has an illustrious past indeed! Not only is it the Utah State Dinosaur, but it is also one of the best-known dinosaurs skeletally thanks to multiple nearly complete specimens and an entire growth series from the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry. It is amongst the oldest of the Ambassadors, having been discovered in 1869 and formally named in 1877 by none other than arguably the most famous paleontologist of all time, Charles Marsh!
Allosaurus means "different lizard", so named because, at the time, its hollow backbones hadn't been seen before. We now know the hollowness is a result of pneumaticity (air-filled cavities that lighten yet strengthen the bone) and it was common in many dinosaurs.
Its wide-opening mouth (the widest of any dinosaur known!) contained around 70 teeth and the largest individuals had teeth up to 4" long.
Allosaurus weighed up to 3 tons and reached 39' and lived in the Late Jurassic (145-155 mya), though most were in the 1 ton, 28' range. It is thought they could achieve speeds up to 21 mph and live to around 28 years of age, hitting full size at 15 years old.
Ankylosaurus (with 56% of the vote)
Ambassador Ankylosaurus is the most armored of the Ambassadors, having osteoderms even on its eyelids! It was named in 1908 by the venerated Barnum Brown and is one of the most popular dinosaurs today, with Bumpy the Ankylosaurus being a major character in Camp Cretaceous.
Its name means "fused lizard", so named because of the ankylosed bones in the skull and hips. It was one of the most well-protected of all dinosaurs, with osteoderms covering nearly its entire body. Some of the armor exceeded 12" in length. It wielded a massive tail club over 2' long and nearly 2' wide capable of shattering bone.
The huge nostrils flared out and to the side, they weren't visible when looked at head-on, and likely regulated the outside air temperature, cooling or warming it as needed. Its wider-than-long skull (rare in dinosaurs!) had a powerful beak and 140 very small, leaf-shaped teeth, equipped to snip the most stubbon of ferns. With massive forearms perhaps it dug up roots or broke into termite/ant mounds?
Ankylosaurus was one of the very last dinosaurs to live, surviving right up to the impact, in the Late Cretaceous (68-66 mya). Weighing between 5 and 8 tons, and at nearly 30' in length, it is the largest of all known ankylosaurids.
(with 75% of the vote)
Ambassador Carcharodontosaurus has been through a lot in its lifetime. Named by the famous German paleontologist Stromer in 1931, its original bones were destroyed during World War 2. Expeditions in the last 30 years, however, have excavated more of this amazing dinosaur's bones.
Its name means "sharp-toothed lizard", so named because its amazing teeth reminded researchers of Great White Shark teeth. With around 50 highly serrated teeth occupying a long, low 5' skull, it is one of the most intimidating dinosaurs to see.
Carcharodontosaurus was around 38' in length and weighed around 6 tons. It had a broad, powerful neck, capable of lifting up to 1,000 lbs into the air!
Rebbachisaurus (with 65% of the vote)
Ambassador Rebbachisaurus is immediately recognizable thanks to its tall-spined dorsal vertebrae that exceed 4' tall! Whether these vertebrae were covered in a fatty hump or were displayed as a sail we are not yet certain. Named by Lavocat in 1954, it is known from Morocco but its close cousins made their way to South America.
The "Rebbach lizard" received its name from the part of the world where it is from.
Rebbachisaurus is a sauropod dinosaur that weighed around 10 tons and measured roughly 50' in length. Despite its size, it had a small (less than 2' long) skull full of teeth that look like pencils.
At "only" 10 tons and 50' long, it was small for a sauropod. However, it had a long, whip-like tail powered by massive hips that would have given predators pause.
At "only" 10 tons and 50' long it was small for a sauropod. However, it had a long, whip-like tail that would have made predators think twice.
Ambassador Rapator is one of the most handsomely dressed yet mysterious and least known of our dinosaur representatives. Opalized, the lone bone definitely has a regal quality about it. Discovered at the famous Lightning Ridge locality, Rapator was named from a single, nearly 3" long, metacarpal I (hand bone). Or is it the first phalanx (finger)? Paleontologists debate not only the position of the bone but also the meaning of Rapator itself. Violator? Plunderer? Is it a typo? Rapator isn't saying and neither is its namer from 1932, the famous von Huene.
The bone is similar to Australovenator and, if it was a megaraptor (and hand bones predicted length), the animal could approach 30'! Since it was found in rocks 10 million years older than Australovenator it is unlikely to belong to the same genus.
Ambassador Rhoetosaurus is a giant among giants! Named after the titan Rhoetus, and for good measure, as Rhoetosaurus was a veritable Jurassic titan at 50’ long and 10 tons. Much of the vertebral column, bits and pieces of hindlimb, and a nearly complete hindfoot are known from this wondrous sauropod. The four claws on its hindfoot, and a host of interesting bony characteristics on the tibia and vertebrae, highlight how distinct, and unique, Rhoetosaurus is even amongst the sauropods.
Rhoetosaurus lived around 160 mya, a time near the beginning of the sauropod expansion and, as such, this grand old giant holds keys to unlocking their radiation across the southern half of the world.
Ambassador Imperobator has a name befitting a leader. The "Commanding or Powerful Warrior" is the etymology given to the name by its authors Ely and Case in but 2019. One of the youngest-named dinosaurs, it lived around 72 mya in the Late Cretaceous of Antarctica. Known only from a partial left foot and lower leg which included a claw, plus fragments of a right foot, a length of between 10-14' has been suggested, based on comparisons with dromaeosaurs, of which it was originally thought to be.
A re-examination of the fragmentary material, however, indicated this predator lacked a large "killing claw" (its claw is actually smaller than that of Velociraptor despite the massively larger foot of Imperobator) as well as a few other dromaeosaur-diagnostic toe characters. As such Imperobator can be said to be a derived theropod. Uniquely, however, the fibula is fused to the calcaneum which should allow its identification if more material is found to compare it to.
Regardless of its minimal materials, Imperobator is proof large-bodied theropods prowled the long Antarctic nights.
Ambassador Glacialisaurus is the lone sauropodomorph of our group. The "icy" or "froze" lizard is the etymology provided in 2007 by Smith and Pol.
Glacialisaurus lived in the Early Jurassic (around 187 mya) of Antarctica. It is known from limb material, a distal end of a left femur that likely belongs to the holotype articulated right foot complete with the astragalus. Assuming the projected 2' long left femur belongs to the right foot, Glacialisaurus may have reached 20' in length and exceeded 1 ton in weight.
As a sauropodomorph it was ate conifers, ginkgoes, and cycads with its long neck and possibly counterbalancing long tail.
Image credit: Emily Willoughby
Tyrannotitan (with 87% of the vote)
Ambassador Tyrannotitan, the “Tyrant Giant” as named by the famous paleontologist Fernando Novas and compatriots in 2005, is accustomed to authority, being the preeminent predator in the Late Cretaceous of Argentina 110 million years ago.
Living in a humid, flood-plain environment this 40’ predator feasted upon anything that captured its fancy, and tended towards a diet of sauropods in all likelihood. As an Ambassador, Tyrannotitan will be keeping its urges to consume in check while representing the South American carnivores with dignity and respect.
Tyrannotitan is known from 3 partial skeletons and was important in increasing the understanding of carcharodontosaurids around the world.
Amargasaurus (with 90% of the vote)
Ambassador Amargasaurus is a beloved dicraeosaurid sauropod that lived around 125 million years ago in Argentina. Named in 1991 by Leonardo Salgado and the father of modern paleontology in Argentina, Jose Bonaparte, it is known from a majority of the skeleton and named for the location it was discovered near, La Amarga, though it translates to "Bitter Lizard".
At 30' long and 3 tons, Ambassador Amargasaurus was positively dainty for a sauropod. Fossil Crates' own Dr. BC studied this animal in 1998 and was amazed by its extraordinarily long neural spines. How this double row of spines looked is a mystery. Were they individually covered in a keratinous sheath? Did they comprise two sails? One giant sail completely covered in skin? The tall spines are found in South America, Africa, and China over millions of years, indicating whatever they were they worked well!
Megalosaurus with 70% of the vote
Ambassador Megalosaurus, the "great lizard", is great indeed! The first named dinosaur (1827), it was properly named by the legendary Gideon Mantell before the term "dinosaur" existed (!) to describe a partial skeleton of a large, nay giant to its discoverers, lizard. Initially believed to be a lizard over 60' long, in actually it was still a rather prodigious 20' and weighed nearly a ton. This bipedal predator ruled the Jurassic of England 166 mya. And continues to rule today as the carnivorous ambassador for Europe! As the first named dinosaur, Ambassador Megalosaurus carries the weight of history on its shoulders, we are sure it will do all dinosaurs proud!
Aragosaurus with 58% of the vote
Ambassador Aragosaurus, the "Aragon lizard", is one of the largest of the 2021 Ambassadors, weighing in at over 20 tons and approaching 60' in length! Stomping about the Early Cretaceous of Spain, adults were safest from even the largest European predators. With forelimbs nearly as long as the hindlimbs, this Ambassador was capable of eating from the tallest branches. Interestingly, its species name, ischiaticus, references a unique character on its ischia.
Alioramus with 52% of the vote
Ambassador Alioramus won the closest race in all of the contests, eking out a victory of Shaochilong. The "other branch" tyrannosaurid was named in 1976 by Kurzanov from a partial skeleton excavated in the Late Cretaceous (~70 mya) of the Gobi Desert, Mongolia.
At 20' long and nearly a ton, this tyrannosaurid was one of the preeminent predators of its day. Capable of eating all but the largest of sauropods that it co-existed with.
Ambassador Alioramus has one of the flashiest skulls of any theropod, with many bumps, lumps, and protrusions.
Protoceratops with 55% of the vote
Ambassador Protoceratops narrowly defeated Sinankylosaurus for the privilege of representing the numerous herbivores of Asia. The "first horned face" was named in 1923 by the paleontologists Granger and Gregory from material collected in the Late Cretaceous (around 74 mya) of Mongolia.
Protoceratops are known from skeletons inside eggs through ancient individuals, leaving Ambassador Protoceratops with quite the legacy to uphold. One of his ancestors was found locked in a combat-to-the-death with a Velociraptor, a sand bank collapsed and killed both of them. Around 6' long and upwards of 300+ lbs, Protoceratops are suspected to have provided parental care to their young, something likely not lost upon one of the oldest known dinosaurs in our Ambassador group!