Temporal range: Late Cretaceous
An artist's illustration of Daspletosaurus torosus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Clade: Dinosauria
Suborder: Theropoda
Genus: Daspletosaurus
Russell, 1970
Species: D. torosus
Type species
Daspletosaurus torosus
Russell, 1970
Referred species
  • Daspletosaurus horneri
    (Carr et al., 2017)
  • Daspletosaurus wilsoni

Daspletosaurus (meaning "frightful lizard") is an extinct genus of tyrannosaurid theropod dinosaur that lived in North America during the Late Cretaceous period. Similar to other members of the tyrannosaurids, it had a powerful jaw and short arms. It had a huge body balanced upon two powerful back legs. The three-toed taloned feet (much like those of a modern bird) probably held the prey down while it ate. Like all tyrannosaurids, the front limbs were short and had only two fingers each. An attack from a Daspletosaurus or its relative Albertosaurus would have been a nasty way to go, due to their brute strength, robust teeth and jaws powerful enough to puncture through bone.



Two Daspletosaurus attack an Edmontonia

Daspletosaurus lived at the same time as its relatives Albertosaurus and Gorgosaurus. How two large meat-eating dinosaurs could have lived side-by-side is a mystery. Perhaps it was much like the African lion and the cheetah living together in East Africa today. These two cats have different methods of hunting, and they prey on different animals. The lion relies on stealth to get close to its prey (buffalo, zebra, etc.), and the slender, fast cheetahs run down its prey.

It is possible that Daspletosaurus, with its massive head and body, might have stalked the ceratopsians, while the more slender, quick Gorgosaurus might have run down hadrosaurs. Daspletosaurus and ceratopsians are less common than Gorgosaurus and hadrosaurs in the badlands of Alberta. There's some evidence say it is possible for it to be able to reach the very end of the Cretaceous period.


Daspletosaurus torosus skeletal reconstruction by randomdinos

Daspletosaurus was between 9 and 10 meters long and weighed between 3 and 4 tonnes, making it the 4th largest known Tyrannosaurid.

Discovery and naming[]

Daspletosaurus which means "frightful lizard" from the Greek dasples/δασπλής (dasples connective vowel resulting in daspleto) meaning "frightful" and sauros/σαῦρος was discovered and fully described in 1970 by Dale Russell in what we know as Alberta, Canada today, the type specimen "Daspletosaurus torosus" comes from the Latin torosus meaning "brawny" or "muscular".

Classification and systematics[]

Daspletosaurus belongs in the subfamily Tyrannosaurinae within the family Tyrannosauridae, along with Tarbosaurus, Tyrannosaurus and Alioramus. Animals in this subfamily are more closely related to Tyrannosaurus than to Albertosaurus and are known – with the exception of Alioramus – for their robust build with proportionally larger skulls and longer femora than in the other subfamily, the Albertosaurinae.




Daspletosaurus from Dinosaur Planet

There are indications of D. horneri possessing integumentary sensory organs, possibly used in touch, modulation of precise jaw movements, temperature reading, and prey detection.


All known Daspletosaurus fossils have been found in formations dating to the middle to late Campanian stage of the Late Cretaceous period, between 77 and 74 million years ago.

In popular culture[]

  • In Dinosaur Planet, a young Daspletosaurus named Little Das lives in a pack including his mother and his two sisters. They make several attempts to take down a young Maiasaura named Buck and his friend Blaze but die in a volcano explosion. In the end, the narrator explains that Daspletosaurus has evolved into Tyrannosaurus Rex and a young T. rex shown with his mother looks very similar to Das.
  • A Daspletosaurus appeared in several episodes of Dinosaur King Season 1. It was seen again in a few episodes of Season 2.
  • National Geographic: Sky Monsters.
  • In Discovery Channel's documentary Secrets of the Dinosaur Mummy At a Stormy night 77 Million Years Ago, A Pack of Five Daspletosaurus have been stalking a heard of Duck-Billed Dinosaurs called Brachylophosaurus. As one of the lethal predators is about to move in for the kill, One Brachylophosaurus named Leonardo rushes in to protect his heard. Leonardo bravely faced the Daspletosaurus. But then, The predator turned toward Leonardo & bit him on his right side. Sending Leonardo into the swollen river. Later the flood water has risen up higher & some of them along with their prey have drowned.
  • Daspletosaurus featured in a dozen or so episodes of Dinosaur Train. One Daspletosaurus named Daphne was seen now & then in some of episodes along side with her dad Mr. Daspletosaurus.
  • Daspletosaurus also appeared in Prehistoric Assassins "Claws & Jaws" Where it was hunting a Duck-Billed Dinosaur Corythosaurus.
  • Daspletosaurus makes an appearance in the 3rd episode of Planet Dinosaur Last Killers, with a pack of them hunting down a Chasmosaurus, succeeding. However, the two larger adult Daspletosaurus force the smaller youngsters to wait for their share of the kill. Later, they are waiting for the annual migration of Centrosaurus, who are heading from their nesting grounds to their feeding grounds. The Daspletosaurus make their attack during a rainstorm, killing some of the ceratopsians. Though, the herd of Centrosaurus make it to a flooded river and start swimming across, Some were killed by drifting logs and eaten by giant crocodilians, probably Deinosuchus, although most of the Centrosaurus made it to the other side. The next day, the carcasses are attracted by scavengers, especially Daspletosaurus.
  • A Daspletosaurus Skeleton along with a Lambeosaurus Skeleton from The Field Museum of Natural History has been Briefly seen at beginning of Giant Screen Films 3D Movie Waking the T. rex: The Story of SUE.
  • It appeared in James Gurney's documentary TYRANNOSAURS: Behind the Art as a grey sculpture seen from time to time.
  • Daspletosaurus was originally supposed to appear in Dinosaur Revolution, but was ultimately cut for some unknown reason.[77-73]
  • Daspletosaurus was briefly seen on the 2022 PBS NOVA episode Alaskan dinosaurs as a Database creature when comparing 6 other Tyrannosaurs.
  • Daspletosaurus is a playable creature in Path of Titans.