Amongst the many exhibits at the “Titanosaur: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur” exhibition is a theropod replica skull. Team members visited the exhibition and marvelled at the dinosaur’s model skull. If we recall correctly, it was a replica of a Mapusaurus fossil skull. The “Titanosaur: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur” exhibition is currently at the London Natural History Museum.

Mapusaurus fossil skull
A view of the Mapusaurus replica skull on display at the London Natural History Museum (Patagotitan exhibition). In this view the skull looks narrow and elongated. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mapusaurus roseae

Mapusaurus (M. roseae), has been classified as a member of the Carcharodontosauridae family. More specifically, this huge theropod is regarded by many palaeontologists as a sister taxon to Giganotosaurus. As such, it has been classified in the tribe Giganotosaurini alongside Giganotosaurus carolinii.

Evolution of Mapusaurus replicas within the CollectA model range.
The changing Mapusaurus models 2012 – 2020 (CollectA).

The picture (above) shows how Mapusaurus models have changed over the last few years as more carcharodontosaurid fossils have been found. These models are all CollectA replicas.

To view the CollectA range of not-to-scale prehistoric animal models: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models.

Mapusaurus Fossil Skull

Palaeontologists know that large carcharodontosaurids coexisted with titanosaurs like Patagotitan (P. mayorum). It has been postulated that theropods did hunt titanosaurs. Perhaps carnivores mobbed sick, old or juvenile members of the herd. It is hard to imagine a single 13-metre-long carnivore being able to subdue an adult Patagotitan that measured more than 30 metres in length.

A carcharodontosaurid skull is included in the exhibit. We think this is a replica of the skull of Mapusaurus roseae. Mapusaurus is geologically younger than Patagotitan. The dating of volcanic ash layers associated with the Patagotitan deposits suggest that this dinosaur lived approximately 100 million years ago.

Mapusaurus fossil skull.
The Mapusaurus skull replica looks shorter and broader when viewed from 90 degrees. Compare this view with the Mapusaurus skull photograph at the top of the article. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

M. roseae fossils are associated with the Huincul Formation, these are younger strata than the rocks associated with Patagotitan fossil material. Mapusaurus lived approximately 96-94 million years ago.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s earlier blog post looking at a trio of carcharodontosaurid dinosaurs: A Trio of Carcharodontosaurids.

There is a carcharodontosaurid that comes from the same Member of the Cerro Barcino Formation as Patagotitan. This dinosaur is Tyrannotitan chubutensis, another giant member of the Giganotosaurini tribe. Tyrannotitan may have hunted and attacked Patagotitan.

Meraxes gigas Timeline
Cladogram depicting the temporal and geographical distribution of the Carcharodontosauridae family of theropod dinosaurs. At the time of their extinction these meat-eating dinosaurs seem to have been at their peak diversity. Picture credit: Canale et al.

The cladogram (above) shows the estimated temporal range for several theropod dinosaurs associated with the carcharodontosaurid lineage. Tyrannotitan was not contemporaneous with Mapusaurus.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.