Temporal range: Late Jurassic, 155–146.8 Ma
Allosaurus SDNHM (1).jpg
An A. fragilis skeletal mount, at the San Diego Natural History Museum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Clade: Saurischia
Clade: Theropoda
Clade: Allosauria
Family: Allosauridae
Marsh, 1878
Type species
Allosaurus fragilis
Marsh, 1877
  • Antrodemidae Marsh, 1878
  • Labrosauridae Marsh, 1882

Allosauridae is a family of medium to large bipedal, carnivorous allosauroid neotheropod dinosaurs from the Late Jurassic.[2] Allosauridae is a fairly old taxonomic group, having been first named by the American paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh in 1878.[3] Allosaurids are characterized by an astragalus with a restriction of the ascending process to the lateral part of the bone, a larger medial than lateral condyle, and a horizontal groove across the face of the condyles.[4]


Allosaurids have a general anatomy typical of other neotheropod dinosaurs, contributing to the difficulty in defining the family's membership. A typical 8m specimen of Allosaurus fragilis had a skull of about 0.85m. The premaxilla has five teeth and the maxilla usually around 16. The dentary also typically has 16 teeth. All teeth are serrated and continuously replaced throughout the life of the animal. Allosaurid skulls are characterized by two sets of crests formed by the nasal and lacrimal bones respectively. These crests would have been covered by keratin sheathes.[5] The skull also exhibits features consistent with significant cranial kinesis: a synovial joint between the braincase and the frontals and a loose articulation between the dentary and the angular/surangular.[6] This cranial kinesis would have dampened forces on the bones of the skull and allowed allosaurids to open their mouths to very large angles.

Allosaurids have 28 precaudal vertebrae (9 cervical, 14 dorsal, 5 sacral) and an estimated 45-50 caudal vertebrae.[6] Gastralia and ferculae are rarely preserved as fossils but are presumed to occur in all allosaurids[7] The pubis is highly elongated and extends ventrally to form a pubic foot which like in other large dinosaurs is thought to have been used to support the weight of the body in a resting crouch position.[5]

Like most other theropods, allosaurids have very short forelimbs relative to their hindlimbs with three digits on the hand and four on the foot. The first digit of the hand forms a semi-opposable thumb and digits 4 and 5 are absent. Digits 2-4 of the foot are robust but digit 1 is reduced and does not touch the ground and digit 5 is absent.[8] All distal phalanges were capped with large claws, those on the hand were especially long and were curved to facilitate raking and grasping of prey items [5] Phalangeal formulae of the hand and foot are 4-3-4 and 2-3-4-5 respectively.[8]


In 2019, Rauhut and Pol described Asfaltovenator vialidadi, a basal allosauroid displaying a mosaic of primitive and derived features seen within Tetanurae. Their phylogenetic analysis found traditional Megalosauroidea to represent a basal grade of carnosaurs, paraphyletic with respect to Allosauroidea.[9]


SpinosauridaeSpinosaurus aegyptiacus.png

MegalosauridaeTorvosaurus tanner DBi.jpg


PiatnitzkysauridaePiatnitzkysaurus floresi by Paleocolour.jpg

Asfaltovenator vialidadi

MetriacanthosauridaeYangchuanosaurus NT (flipped).jpg


AllosauridaeAllosaurus Revised.jpg





  1. ^ Carrano, M. T.; Benson, R. B. J.; Sampson, S. D. (2012). "The phylogeny of Tetanurae (Dinosauria: Theropoda)". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 10 (2): 211–300. doi:10.1080/14772019.2011.630927.
  2. ^ Carrano, Matthew T.; Benson, Roger B. J.; Sampson, Scott D. (2012-06-01). "The phylogeny of Tetanurae (Dinosauria: Theropoda)". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 10 (2): 211–300. doi:10.1080/14772019.2011.630927. ISSN 1477-2019.
  3. ^ Marsh, Othniel Charles (1878). "Notice of new dinosaurian reptiles". American Journal of Science and Arts. 15: 241–244.
  4. ^ Molnar, R. E.; Flannery, Timothy F.; Rich, Thomas H. V. (1981-01-01). "An allosaurid theropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Victoria, Australia". Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology. 5 (2): 141–146. doi:10.1080/03115518108565427. ISSN 0311-5518.
  5. ^ a b c Madsen, James H., Jr. (1993) [1976]. Allosaurus fragilis: A Revised Osteology. Utah Geological Survey Bulletin 109 (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City: Utah Geological Survey.
  6. ^ a b Paul, Gregory S. (1988). Predatory Dinosaurs of the World.
  7. ^ Chure, Daniel J.; Madsen, James (1996). "On the presence of furculae in some non-maniraptoran theropods". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 16 (3): 573–577. doi:10.1080/02724634.1996.10011341
  8. ^ a b Gilmore, Charles W. (1920). Osteology of the Carnivorous Dinosauria in the United States National Museum: With Special Reference to the Genera Antrodemus (Allosaurus) and Ceratosaurus. United States National Museum Bulletin Volume 110.
  9. ^ Rauhut, Oliver W. M.; Pol, Diego (2019-12-11). "Probable basal allosauroid from the early Middle Jurassic Cañadón Asfalto Formation of Argentina highlights phylogenetic uncertainty in tetanuran theropod dinosaurs". Scientific Reports. 9 (1): 18826. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-53672-7. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 6906444. PMID 31827108.