CERATOSAURUS (seh-RAT-oh-SORE-us)

Period: Late Jurassic

Order, Suborder, Family: Saurischia, Theropoda, Ceratosauridae

Location: North America, Africa (Tanzania)

Length: 20 feet (6 meters)

Ceratosaurus was the greatest rival of Allosaurus. Ceratosaurus had a fearsome appearance, with a prominent low, blade-like horn on its snout, knobs in front of its eyes, long daggerlike teeth with serrated edges that sliced through flesh, a huge head with powerful jaws, and a massive body. Its name means "horned dinosaur."

Ceratosaurus resembled Allosaurus, except that its front legs had four fingers rather than three. Each of the fingers and toes had curved claws that could tear flesh from a carcass or bring a victim to the ground with a single blow. Like Allosaurus, this meat-eater was an opportunist, probably taking smaller dinosaurs such as Stegosaurus or Camptosaurus when it could and scavenging on carcasses of the giant sauropods.

Ceratosaurus used its powerful legs and feet for running at high speeds. It could escape danger from other predators or attack its prey by overpowering it with a sudden burst of energy. The huge skull and mighty jaws surely delivered death blows to the victims.

The horns of Ceratosaurus may have been for display or for fighting other males of its kind, especially when competing for females. There were not as many ceratosaurs as allosaurs, and they were also not found in as many places. Perhaps Ceratosaurus ate only certain animals or needed to stay in one climate.