Altispinax is an extinct genus consisting of large predatory dinosaurs of the family Carcharodontosauridae. The Altispinax meaning is 'with high (neural) spines.' Friedrich Von Huene named this genus in 1923. Altispinax is classified within clade Theropoda in Saurischia with type species as Altispinax dunkeri. This genus is from the Early Cretaceous period in Valanginian around 140-133 million years ago. This location is currently the Wadhurst Clay Formation of East Sussex in England. There were four other species described within this genus. Megalosaurus oweni rwas enamed as Altispinax oweni and Megalosaurus parkeri was renamed as Altispinax parkeri. Both these species are under the different genus, Valdoraptor, and Metriacanthosaurus. Samuel Husbands Beckles, a fossil collector probably in the early 1850s, discovered some nodules that had dinosaur bones in a quarry close to Battle in East Sussex. This holotype or fossil is currently named NHMUK R1828. No other fossils were found after that. It was tentatively estimated in 1988 by Paul that Altispinax weighed 1 ton (907.2 kg) and was short compared to Acrocanthosaurus atokensis. Altispinax was a meat-eating dinosaur and was around 17.4 ft (5.4 m) in length.
The pronunciation of Altispinax (Friedrich Von Huene) is 'Al-tee-spy-nax.'
Altispinax (Friedrich Von Huene) is a large Theropod dinosaur of the Infraorder Carnosauria and phylum Chordata. Richard Owen got the lithograph done by Joseph Dinkel, which contained three vertebrae and very tall spines. Richard Owen regarded this specimen as C bucklandii thinking these vertebrae were components of the shoulder area. It was assumed that he knew of the find in the year 1853 because he guided Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins to add a back hump on his early Megalosaurus sculpture present in Crystal Palace Park. The fossil or skeletal remains is now named NHMUK R1828, which was perhaps found in Hasting Bed Group's layers from the Valanginian age. This contains three posterior dorsal vertebrae. Owen later reported the presence of two more series of two dorsal vertebral centra and two right ribs in the nodules. A single tooth from the Cretaceous age found in Germany called Megalosaurus dunkeri was compared with vertebrae by Richard Lydekker in 1888. A separate genus was created for Megalosaurus dunkeri by Friedrich Von Huene in 1923 as these two pieces of evidence differed. So, he named Altispinax, and later researchers came to a conclusion that Altispinax dunkeri was the new genus or new species name for Megalosaurus dunkeri.
Altispinax (with high spines) or Altispinax dunkeri was from the Early Cretaceous period in Valanginian around 140-133 million years ago.
Altispinax (with high spines) probably became extinct around 133 million years ago.
Altispinax (with high spines) might have lived in Niedersachsen, Oberkirchen Sandstein, in Germany and East Sussex.
Altispinax dinosaurs might have occupied dry subtropical habitats like their relatives Acrocanthosaurus.
Altispinax dinosaurs, like other dinosaurs, could have lived in groups.
The life expectancy or maximum age of this Altispinax dinosaur is unknown.
The reproduction of these Altispinax dinosaurs is oviparous. The breeding information of these specimens is not available.
A tentative estimation was made by Paul in 1988 that these dinosaur specimens were shorter than Acrocanthosaurus atokensis. The genus name Altispinax meaning is high spines and refers to high neural spines. This was observed in the three back vertebrae (fossils) of Altispinax dunkeri from Sussex that had around 13.7 in (35 cm) processus spinosi (high neural spines), which was comparatively as tall as the spines of Ichthyovenator. On the upper third of these spines, there were irregular rugosities (sail-back). The two fused or ankylosed spines are closest to the skull, as per Ralph Molnar. The closest single spine is only around two-thirds the height of the others and looks broken and the spine behind it overgrows the gap. This was interpreted by Molnar as a back frill wound, which was closing up from behind. A contradicting explanation was given by Darren Naish in 2003 that this was a natural gap and Darren Naish also denied that two spines were fused or ankylosed while observing that 11th and 12th spine vertebrae merged at the top. Darren Naish also reconstructed Altispinax based on Concavenator. Darren Naish showed that Richard Owen observed large depressions on the sides of the neural arch, explaining that this was a result of pneumatization. This phenomenon was notably observed for the first time in a dinosaur. It was reported in 2006 that Christian Erich Hermann von Meyer had already pointed out this phenomenon with Saurischia in 1837. A back crest with two high vertebrae was discovered in 2010 in Concavenator and this corroborated that the Altispinax spine's short anterior may be complete. Darren Naish considered this genus a part of Allosauroidea in 2003 and Olshevsky placed Altispinax under Eustrtospondylidae. It is, however, not clear whether Altispinax is closely related to Concavenator or Sinraptor. Paleo-artists depicted the sail back of bipedal dinosaur species with the sail situated between the legs and the arms. However, the best placement of the sail is directly above the hips and not in between hind and front limbs.
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The exact number of bones in this Theropod dinosaur is unknown as three vertebrae and a tooth.
These Altispinax dunkeri dinosaurs might have communicated using calls and songs like the other dinosaurs.
The Altispinax might have been 17.4 ft (5.4 m) in length and thus Dilophosaurus is a little longer measuring 23 ft (7 m).
The speed of these Altispinax dinosaurs has not been concluded from their fossils.
Altispinax weight might have been 1,102 lb (500 kg).
There is specific terminology given to this male and female species.
There is no particular name given to juvenile Altispinax species.
Altispinax species maintained a carnivorous diet. It is not exactly clear what they fed on but they might have preyed on small juvenile dinosaur species.
It is not known how aggressive these Altispinax species were.
Gregory Paul believed these vertebrae represented a new species of Acrocanthosaurus naming the species as Acrocanthosaurus? Altispinax. This specific term was made similar to the previous generic name, both emphasizing the vertebrae. Also, the question mark is an uncertainty about this assignment. A new genus, Becklespinax (discoverer: Beckles) was named for this reason in 1991 by George Olshevsky for the vertebrae. An interpretation of ICZN's rules was given by Michael Maish that Megalosaurus dunkeri (tooth found in Germany) and Altispinax dunkeri ( tall spined-vertebrae) are distinct species with the same name. Also because George Olshevsky and Paul later created names based on these vertebrae.
Although not quite popular among the general public, Altispinax is a famous genus among the paleontologist because only one single fragment of evidence is currently available found 170 years ago.
Theropoda consists of two Greek elements is a combination of 'wild beast' and 'foot.' Theropods were originally carnivores, however, they became insectivores, piscivores, omnivores, and herbivores. The early and most basal dinosaurs of Theropoda were the carnivore Eodromaeus and Herrerasaurids (Argentina). The earliest and basal unambiguous Theropods are the Coelophysoidea. Tyrannosaurus was the largest of theropod and was well-known among the general public. Some other huge carnivore dinosaurs are Carcharodontosaurus, Spinosaurus, and Giganotosaurus. Also, the largest extant species of this group are common ostriches, which can reach up to a size of 9 ft (2.74 m).
The clade Saurischia consists of two Greek terms, sauros meaning 'lizard' and ischion meaning 'hip joint,' which directly translates to 'reptile-hipped.' This was previously known as an order but they are currently considered a clade The other clade sharing similar dinosaurs is Ornithischia. All species, except birds of Saurischia, became extinct by the end of the Cretaceous Period. Birds descended from a group or sub-clade of Theropod dinosaurs. Saurischians can be differentiated from Ornithischians by the presence of a three-pronged pelvic structure with a forward-pointing pubis. Harry Seeley described and named this clade lizard-hipped because of the hip structure of the Saurischians that was retained from the hip anatomy of their ancestors. This is also found in the modern-day lizard species and other reptiles.
The genus name Altispinax meaning is high spines as it was concluded that the three back vertebrae had high neural spines.
Samuel Husbands Beckles discovered the early three vertebrae in East Sussex. Friedrich von Huene gave them the name Altispinax.
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You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Altispinax coloring pages.
Second image by Conty.