Arcovenator (meaning "Arc hunter") is a genus of abelisaurid theropod dinosaur hailing from the Late Cretaceous of France. The type and only described species is Arcovenator escotae.


Arcovenator is a new abelisaur found from France. Specifically, it was discovered near Pourrières, Var department, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in France. This dates back to 72 to 76 million years ago in the Campanian stage of the Late Cretaceous. It is known from a nearly complete braincase, which is similar in size to Majungasaurus and Carnotaurus.

Indeed much of the skull resembles Majungasaurus, placing it in the same subfamily. Its presence complicates the paleobiogeography of abelisauroids, since its resemblance to the Madagascan Majungasaurus and Indian Rajasaurus means it must have had a wider range than previously supposed. This suggests that Africa was a hub for animal movement between Europe, India and Madagascar in the late Cretaceous. It lived in what was at the time a large landmass called the Ibero-Armorican island, which included parts of France, Spain and Portugal. The climate was warm and subhumid, with distinct seasons. It lived near a river, and the fossils found indicate it died when the river flooded its banks. It lived with turtles, crocodylomorphs, pterosaurs, titanosaurs, rhabdodon and nodosaurids. They were probably common in the area due to the frequent fragmentary remains of the animal found in the region.

Classification and systematics[]

170px-Abelisaurid tibia and fibula-1

Tibia and fibula.

Arcovenator is a theropod genus nested within the clade Abelisauridae, which in Linnaean taxonomy has the rank of family. This taxonomical group has as close relatives noasaurids within Abelisauroidea. The latter in turn along with Limusaurus and Ceratosaurus nests within Ceratosauria. Distinguishing characters of abelisaurids are their short, tall skulls with extensively sculptured external surfaces, the drastically reduced forelimbs, and the stout hindlimbs.

Discovery and naming[]

The fossil remains of A. escotae were found near Pourrières, Var department, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, during preventive paleontological and archaeological prospection activities before construction took place on the stretch of the A8 motorway betweenChâteauneuf-le-Rouge and Saint Maximin. The pertinent late Campanian strata (between 72 and 76million years ago) of the Lower Argiles Rutilantes Formation are located in the Aix-en-Provence Basin of southeastern France. The holotype of Arcovenator escotae, housed at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle d’Aix-en-Provence, was found closely associated in a single stratum of fluvial sandstone and is made up of specimens MHNA-PV-2011.12.1.


Arcovenator escotae lived in the Ibero-Armorican island, a relatively large landmass formed by what are now parts of France, Spain and Portugal. The Compressional subsidence basin of Aix-en-Provence was a low-relief endorheic affair located at a paleolatitude of 35° N, and had its borders to north and south in the form of limestone highlands, respectively the Sainte Victoire and Etoile massifs, and to the east as the Maure Mountains.

The sediment from these sources flowed along rivers into a perennial lake originating interbedded lacustrine, alluvial and fluvial sediments at the time of Arcovenator, when the climate was warm, subhumid with marked seasons. The fossil remains were found in one of the formation's various levels of fluvial sandstone, characteristic of a river's mouth or when it overflows its banks, along with hybodonts, the turtles Foxemys and Solemys, the crocodylomorphs Musturzabalsuchus and Ischyrochampsa,azhdarchid pterosaurs, titanosaurian sauropods, the ornithopod Rhabdodon and nodosaurids. The abundance of fragmentary remains of medium-sized abelisaurs, especially teeth in this and other localities of the region show that these animals would have been relatively common in the landscape.