Temporal range: 70–Late Cretaceous Ma
Vitamin Imagination's depiction of "Tarbosaurus bataar"
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
clade: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Theropoda
Family: Tyrannosauridae
Subfamily: Tyrannosaurinae
Tribe: Tarbosaurini
Olshevsky & Ford, 1995
Genus: Tarbosaurus
Maleev, 1955
Species: T. bataar
Binomial name
Tarbosaurus bataar
Maleev, 1955 [originally Tyrannosaurus]

Genus synonymy

  • Shanshanosaurus (Dong, 1977)
  • Maleevosaurus (Carpenter, 1992)
  • Jenghizkhan (Olshevsky, 1995)

Species synonymy

  • Tyrannosaurus bataar (Maleev, 1955)
  • Gorgosaurus novojilovi (Maleev, 1955)
  • Tarbosaurus efremovi (Maleev, 1955)
  • Gorgosaurus lancinator (Maleev, 1955)
  • Deinodon novojilovi (Maleev, 1955)
  • Deinodon lancinator (Maleev, 1955)
  • Aublysodon lancinator (Maleev, 1955) Charig, 1967
  • Aublysodon novojilovi (Maleev, 1955) Charig, 1967
  • Shanshanosaurus huoyanshanensis (Dong, 1977)
  • Tyrannosaurus efremovi (Maleev, 1955)
  • Tarbosaurus novojilovi (Maleev, 1955)
  • Aublysodon huoyanshanensis (Dong, 1977)
  • Albertosaurus novojilovi (Maleev, 1955)
  • Maleevosaurus novojilovi (Maleev, 1955)
  • Jenghizkhan bataar (Maleev, 1955)
  • Tyrannosaurus novojilovi (Maleev, 1955)

Tarbosaurus bataar (tar-bo-SORE-us) (Greek for "Alarming Lizard") was a genus tyrannosaurid theropod dinosaur, which flourished during the Late Cretaceous Period, 80 - 70 million years ago. In the past some paleontologists considered it a species of Tyrannosaurus, but evidence suggests that Tarbosaurus is too distinct from Tyrannosaurus for that to be the case. It would have coexisted with another, much smaller tyrannosaurid, the alioramin Alioramus.


Tarbosaurus can be compared to as a very similar to its more infamous North American counterpart. Its bone-crushing bite would've singlehandedly destroyed its prey, and the estimated stride lengths of these large carnivores would've given it the ability to stalk after prey. Tarbosaurus probably picked on some of the herbivores in its area the hadrosaurid Saurolophus would've probably supplied it with majority of its prey. Tarbosaurus has an unusual huge skull compared to the rest of the body, but was quite light due to the holes in the skull called antorbital fenestrae.


Although many specimens of this genus has been found, little definite data is confirmed on the dinosaur as of 1986, though it is presumed and has been shown to share many characteristics with other tyrannosaurids.

During studies of the animal, the upper jaw proved very interesting, as it possessed more than 20 extremely large, knife-shaped teeth. The skull in general seems to have many similarities with its North American cousin, Tyrannosaurus rex, prompting many to place it in the Tyrannosaurus genus (the resulting designation would then be Tyrannosaurus bataar). The close similarities have also prompted some scientists to suggest a possible link between the North American and Eurasian continents at that time, perhaps in the form of a land bridge. The discovery of Lythronax further cements this relationship, as it shows Tarbosaurus is most closely related to Tyrannosaurus, and Zhuchengtyrannus while Lythronax stands as the sister taxon to this clade.

Only one species of Tarbosaurus, T. bataar, has been officially established. Tarbosaurus is very well-represented in the fossil record, known from dozens of specimens, including several complete skulls and skeletons. These remains have allowed scientific studies focusing on its phylogeny, skull mechanics, and brain structure. Although smaller than Tyrannosaurus, Tarbosaurus was one of the largest tyrannosaurids.


The largest known individuals were about 11m long and 5.5 tonnes in weight. Tarbosaurus is unique among Tyrannosaurids in that it possesses a locking mechanism in its jaws; possibly an adaptation for hunting sauropods. This locking mechanism also made the theropod's skull more rigid as a result.

While juvenile tyrannosaurids in general are rare, a skeleton of a very young Tarbosaurus (estimated to be two or three years of age) indicates they had very different niches from the adults and may have been nocturnal, based on measurements of their sclerotic rings. Whether the adults were nocturnal as well is not known.

Skin impressions are known from Tarbosaurus, and show the animal had non-overlapping scales. However, fossil poachers destroyed the impressions, and as such they can no longer be studied. Footprints attributed to the genus are also known from the Nemegt Formation.


Tarbosaurus fossils have been found primarily in the Nemegt Formation of Mongolia, but have also been discovered in some parts of South Korea, particularly the Korean Peninsula, suggesting that they could've lived there too, and, though mostly are from the late Campanian, are believed to be early Maastrichtian in age (circa 70 mya). At the time, Mongolia was a seasonal floodplain on the edge of a desert that was prone to long dry seasons and short wet seasons. The resulting environment may have looked similar to the modern Okavango Delta of Africa. Regardless, it was an environment capable of supporting a wide array of large dinosaur species.


Tarbosaurus attempt to hunt a Deinocheirus by Toumas Koivurinne

Tarbosaurus would have shared the Nemegt with many genera and species of animals. While Tarbosaurus was at the top of the food chain, it also shared its environment with other predators, such as the smaller Alectrosaurus and Alioramus, another tyrannosaurids belonging to the Alioramini, the dromaeosaurids, Velociraptor and Adasaurus, and troodontids such as Borogovia, Tochisaurus, and Zanabazar, the ceratopsid, Protoceratops, and oviraptorosaurs, Oviraptor, Elmisaurus, Nemegtomaia, Rinchenia or Bagaraatan, (which may actually be a basal tyrannosauroid rather than an oviraptorosaur). Other theropods, like the gigantic Therizinosaurus, the feathered, gliding, tree-living Microraptor, and ornithomimosaurs such as Anserimimus, Gallimimus, and gigantic Deinocheirus dwelled here as well. Other dinosaurs of note that resided in the Nemegt included hadrosaurids such as, Charonosaurus, Tsintaosaurus and Saurolophus (also native to North America), ankylosaurids such as Tarchia and Saichania, the pachycephalosaurid Prenocephale, and sauropods such as Pukyoungosaurus and the titanosaurid Nemegtosaurus (which may or may not be synonymous with Opisthocoelicaudia). It also lived with the baby dinosaur-eating mammal, Repenomamus, and the pterosaurs, Nemicolopterus and the giant azhdarchid, Haenamichnus. All would have been potential prey for adult Tarbosaurus, while adolescent Tarbosaurus may have been forced to compete with Alectrosaurus and Alioramus for food due to occupations of a similar niche.


Tarbosaurus is classified as a theropod in the subfamily Tyrannosaurinae within the family Tyrannosauridae. Other members include Tyrannosaurus and the earlier Daspletosaurus, both from North America, and possibly the Mongolian genus Alioramus. Animals in this subfamily are more closely related to Tyrannosaurus than to Albertosaurus and are known for their robust build with proportionally larger skulls and longer femurs than in the other subfamily, the Albertosaurinae.

Tarbosaurus bataar was originally described as a species of Tyrannosaurus, an arrangement that has been supported by some more recent studies. Others prefer to keep the genera separate, while still recognizing them as sister taxa. A 2003 cladistic analysis based on skull features instead identified Alioramus as the closest known relative of Tarbosaurus, as the two genera share skull characteristics that are related to stress distribution and that are not found in other tyrannosaurines. If proven, this relationship would argue against Tarbosaurus becoming a synonym for Tyrannosaurus and would suggest that separate tyrannosaurine lineages evolved in Asia and North America. The two known specimens of Alioramus, which show juvenile characteristics, are not likely juvenile individuals of Tarbosaurus because of their much higher tooth count (76 to 78 teeth) and their unique row of bony bumps along the top of their snouts.

The discovery of Lythronax argestes, a much earlier tyrannosaurine further reveals the close relationship between Tyrannosaurus and Tarbosaurus, and it was discovered that Lythronax is a sister taxon to a clade consisting of Campanian genus Zhuchengtyrannus, and Maastrichtian genera Tyrannosaurus and Tarbosaurus. Further studies of Lythronax also suggest that the Asian tyrannosauroids were part of one evolutionary radiation.

In the Media[]

Although not as popular as its North American cousin, Tarbosaurus still made its fair share of appearences in popular culture.

  • In the 1984 novel Carnosaur written by the late John Brosnan, features a genetically engineered adolescent Tarbosaurus as one of the main dinosaur antagonists, being one of the dinosaurs alongside Megalosaurus, Altispinax and Deinonychus to escape into Cambridgeshire at the climax of the novel.
  • In one of the episodes of BBC's 2002 Walking with Dinosaurs spin-off Chased by Dinosaurs duology titled "Giant Claw", time traveler Nigel Marven travels to Mongolia during the Upper Cretaceous in search of Therizinosaurus, but of course he will also come face to face with Tarbosaurus a couple of times, including a fight scene between the two dinosaurs.
  • Tarbosaurus also appeared as a cameo in the 2005 BBC documentary film called The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs in a scene where it tries to take down a Pinacosaurus, causing the herbivore to break the theropod's leg.
  • In the the 2007 IMAX documentary, Dinosaurs Alive!, Tarbosaurus once again makes an appearance trying to hunt down another Ankylosauridae, however this time, it's a Tarchia.
  • A male Tarbosaurus by the name of Patch was the main protagonist of the 2008 South-Korean film, Tarbosaurus: The Mightiest Ever. 4 years later, his son by the name of Speckles was featured as the titular main protagonist of the 2012 South-Korean film, Speckles: The Tarbosaurus and it's 2019 sequel Dino King 3D: Journey to Fire Mountain.
  • Tarbosaurus also made several appearances in the 2010 South Korean documentary, Land of Dinosaurs.
  • In the 2019 two-part streaming mini-docuseries Amazing Dinoworld, one of the episodes show a trio of Tarbosaurus hunt down an adult Deinocheirus.
  • Tarbosaurus is featured in Dinosaur King.
  • Tarbosaurus is shown in Dinosaur Train as an illustration only.
  • Tarbosaurus returned appearing in two episodes of the crictically acclaimed two seasons long American animated documentary Prehistoric Planet (2022-2023). In the episode "Deserts", an entire pack of the animals appear slowly waking up from their slumber (one of them almost catching a Velociraptor earlier) with only one adult appearing in a different scene at a lake to drink alongside a herd of Barsboldia. In the episode, "Badlands", a pack of them appears again to hunt down Sauropods.
  • Tarbosaurus was also in the The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park: The Lost World written by Don Lessem. Although it only appeared in various video games and toy merchandise across the Jurassic Park Franchise, Tarbosaurus made it's first ever canonical appearance in the 2022 animated Netflix interactive special Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous: Hidden Adventure. It acts as the main antagonist of the story with it hunting down the campers from Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous on Isla Nublar, where in the ending (dependent on the viewer's choices) can either fight the Tyrannosaurus rex or a Carnotaurus. The design of the dinosaur received negative criticisms due to looking too similar to the iconic design of the Tyrannosaurus, being oversized and having spikes on it's back similar to that of the Giganotosaurus appearing in Jurassic World: Dominion, despite having no scientific evidence of Tarbosaurus ever having them. Eventually the dinosaur made it's way as a DLC into Jurassic World: Evolution 2.



Other Wikis[]