Hunting Strategies Of Abelisauridae


In the case of Pycnonemosaurus nevesi, it had two genera of titanosaur to choose from: the 13 meter long Adamantisaurus mezzalirai and the 7 meter long Gondwanatitan faustoi. P. nevesi was approximately 8-9 meters long. While it is likely that they could have worked in pairs or even family groups, where they could attack something the size of A. mezzalirai, I think they would find it much easier and less dangerous to gang up against a G. faustoi since it is around a meter or two shorter in length and probably a half meter or so in height compared to P. nevesi. A single P. nevesi would probably be able to handle a G. faustoi. If it were a pair, it would be easy pickings.

Other reasons that they would not have attacked a full grown A. mezzalirai is their arms and their skulls. Unlike the carcharodontosaurs which they replaced, abelisaurs did not have arms that could grasp. Their “arms” consisted of essential just wrists with little stubby “fingers.” The carcharodontosaurs would likely have used their claws to help grip the flanks of the sauropod while they leapt onto the sides of the prey. The abelisaurs could not do this very well as their arms were useless and their skulls and teeth were relatively small and less robust compared to other theropods like the tyrannosaurs and carcharodontosaurs.

If a full grown A. mezzalirai was sick or wounded, there is a chance that a hoard of P. nevesi might gather around the sauropod to cut it off from the herd and wait for the sauropod to die or collapse from exhaustion. However, there is little chance (in my opinion) that P. nevesi would risk injury or death trying to fight a larger prey and would instead attack a sub-adult A. mezzalirai or a G. faustoi. They would not be above cannibalism as seen in Majungasaurus crenatissimus.

However, I theorize that this would not be a regular occurrence as it can be extremely detrimental to a species and especially if the species is not all that common. Like all predators, abelisaurs would be opportunists. If there were to stumble upon a nest of sauropod hatchlings, they would take advantage of that. The same would go if they found a dead or dying individual of their own species.

As far as which would be most common, I think like all predators they would have scavenged as much as they could. Think of it like you are getting food for free. They are not burning calories nearly as much as when they hunt. Hunting would be like working for food. Would you rather work to get food or get it for free? That is basically how that goes.

Now, there are abelisaurs that seem to have been solely scavengers or at least more so than normal. I am referring to Rugops primus. It was approximately 4.5-6 meters long and was much smaller than the other theropods it lived around such as Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis, Deltadromeus agilis, and Spinosaurus moroccanus. R. primus also had a very hollow skull that theoretically housed blood vessels which it could flush blood into what would have been fleshy appendages in order to intimidate other predators away from a carcass. The fact that the skull had lots of holes meant that R. primus had an unusually weak bite, even for abelisaurs. This would have meant that it would have been unable to take down larger prey for the most part.

There isn’t much on the feeding habits of Carnotaurus sasteri due to the fact that the La Colonia Formation only has had only one other set of remains recovered from it and it is apparently an indeterminate hadrosaur. What frustrates me is that I have been searching up this formation and my searches haven’t been turning up a whole lot. However, looking at the skull of C. sasteri, I found that it would likely have gone after smaller prey. This is due to the fact that it is unusually short and small, even for an abelisaur. It also had very long and thin legs which indicated a gracile and swift moving animal. Even with this, we can only theorize on the diet of C. sasteri until some decent material from La Colonia turns up. Edit: Carnoferox found a more recent paper that was published in 2015 detailing on the La Colonia Formation. There is fossil evidence of a tianosaur and an ankylosaur. These do not have a scientific name from what I had read.

Image By Conty (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • Vale: Does most knowledge of what dinosaurs ate come from direct fossil evidence of those dinosaurs or are there cases of the prey surviving an attack and later dying, but having wounds that can be attributed to a specific predator?
  • Torvosaurus I.: Usually, but without that we are left to speculate.
  • starman: The best evidence consists of stomach contents and healed injuries.

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