Many carnosaurs -(from upper left) Allosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, Giganotosaurus and Tyrannotitan
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Superorder: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Theropoda

Carnosauria, meaning 'meat-eating lizards', is a group of large bipedal carnivorous dinosaurs within the saurischian order of Dinosauria. The species lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The group as a classification was originally defined by a large variety of giant theropods, but has been since redefined to classify only the allosaurs, related species and some others. Large members of the carnosaur group contained within the Carcharodontosaurid family, such as the Giganotosaurus and the Tyrannotitan, were recently discovered to be among the largest known predatory dinosaurs to walk to the earth.

General Description

As members of the theropod suborder, carnosaurs share many basic traits with their related groups, such as bipedal motion, inflexible forelimbs, and a three-toed foot similar to the structure of a modern day bird. However, distinctive characteristics of the carnosaur species include large eyes set within a long, narrow skill, as well as slight variations in standard leg structure, such as a thigh, or femur, that is longer than the shin bone, or tibia.

Despite inherent similarities to modern day birds that are present in all theropoda species, the carnosaurs are thought to share a more common ancestor with the allosaurus than with modern birds.


Due to the generic nomenclature of the species, Carnosauria has typically been used as an umbrella term for all large theropods. However, it was revealed in the 1980's and 1990's that many of the species labeled as carnosaurs, in fact, shared little in terms of common characteristics. Because of this, most former carnosaurs were reclassified as primitive theropods, progenitors to the carnivores in later evolutionary stages. Species more similar to birds, such as the Tyrannosaurids, were classified as coelurosaurids. Other theropoda species, such as the Megalosaurids, the Spinosaurids, and the Ceratosaurids were also formerly classified as carnosaurs.


The term "carnosaurus" is an informal generic name given to species that fit under the basic characteristics of large carnivorous dinosarus. Sometimes seen in lists of dinosaurs, it has since been identified as a likely typographical error, as the name was only intended to assign a label to remains yet to be determined. Coined by [[Friedrich von Huene in 1929, the name was misinterpreted as a new generic name for a dinosaur species. Since being identified as an error, the term has since no longer been seriously used in this manner.

Possible Taxonomy

There have been many taxonomies, but here is one of the more believed ones:

Some taxonomies also include Spinosauroids and Piatnitzkysaurids in the group.

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