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The flesh-eating dinosaurs came in all shapes and sizes and account for about 40 percent of the diversity of Mesozoic dinosaurs. They must have eaten anything they could catch, because predation is a highly opportunistic lifestyle. In several instances the prey victim of a particular carnivore has been established beyond much doubt. Remains were found of the small predator Compsognathus containing a tiny skeleton of the lizard Bavarisaurus in its stomach region. In Mongolia two different dinosaur skeletons were found together, a nearly adult size Protoceratops in the clutches of its predator Velociraptor.
Two of the many skeletons of Coelophysis discovered at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, USA, contained bones of several half grown Coelophysis, apparently an early Mesozoic example of cannibalism. Fossilized feces (coprolites) from a large tyrannosaur contained crushed bone of another dinosaur. Skeletons of Deinonychus unearthed in Montana, U.S., were mixed with fragmentary bones of a much larger victim, the herbivore Tenontosaurus. This last example is significant because the multiple remains of the predator Deinonychus, associated with the bones of a single large prey animal, Tenontosaurus, strongly suggest that Deinonychus hunted in packs. The carnivore dinosaurs all belonged to one group, the Theropods "beast foot". They belonged to the saurischian "lizard-hip" family. A number of features link them to birds, including a three toed foot, a wishbone, air filled bones, and in some cases feathers and brooding of the eggs. Most of the theropods were lightly built with large heads.
The had super sharp teeth, some with serrations and a well developed muscular jaw. Long and slender legs made them faster and more agile than other animals. All theropods were bipedal. They had usually three long curving claws that finished in a sharp point, perfect for grasping their prey. Their fossils have been found world wide.
Ceratosauria: are a diverse group which includes animals with odd cranial
morphology. Examples include the twin-crested Dilophosaurus of Jurassic
Park the movie and Ceratosaurus which had bony nodules on its nose and
over each eye. Ceratosaurs formed a more diverse group than was previously
Tetanurae: This clade includes many of the most famous theropods and is subdivided into Spinosauroidea and Avetheropoda.
Spinosauroidea: A group of highly derived, long snouted tetanurans from the Cretaceous of in Europe, North Africa and perhaps Brazil. Two famous dinosaurs included Spinosaurus and Baryonyx
Avetheropoda: is again divided into the Carnosauria and the Coelurosauria.
Carnosauria: The carnosaurs were the huge, fierce predators such as Allosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus and Giganotosaurus, both of which seemed to have reached or exceeded the size of Tyrannosaurus rex, making them the largest terrestrial bipedal, carnivores to ever have walked the earth.
Coelurosauria: which includes animals as well known and diverse as Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus rex.
It is from this last sub group that birds are descended.
Time Period and habitats
They flourished from the Late Triassic about 220 million years ago, until the close of the Cretaceous 65 million years ago They continue to be represented by the 8600 living species of birds today.