5 Dinosaurs that Lived in Alabama (And Where to See Fossils Today)

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: July 18, 2023
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Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that parts of the United States once had large dinosaurs roaming the lands. Alabama was not necessarily a hotbed of dinosaur activity relative to the rest of the U.S. Yet, paleontologists have found a great deal of fossil evidence in this area. Although you won’t find fossils of Argentinosaurus or other vast creatures, we’re going to show you five dinosaurs that lived in Alabama and talk about where you can see their fossils today.

We’ll help you further your knowledge about this state’s past while also helping you figure out where to see fossils when you visit!

What Is Alabama’s State Dinosaur?

Basilosaurus cetoides - total view - Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
Basilosaurus cetoides

was shaped more like an eel than a modern whale.

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Alabama does not have a state dinosaur. Instead, they have a state fossil, Basilosaurus cetoides. Despite its name meaning “king lizard,” Basilosaurus was a whale. While not a lizard, this creature is interesting in its own right due to its size.

Basilosaurus lived 41 to 33.9 million years ago and grew between 50 and 66 feet long. Originally, scientists believed this whale measured 100 feet long.

Basilosaurus was a predatory creature that would have fed on large fish and even sharks. It could exert a bite force of about 3,600 PSI, close to a modern great white shark’s bite power. You can see fossils of this creature at the Alabama Museum of Natural History at the University of Alabama.

What Are the 5 Dinosaurs That Lived in Alabama?

Birmingham, Alabama, USA downtown city skyline.

Alabama

was not necessarily a hotbed of dinosaur activity relative to the rest of the U.S. Yet, paleontologists have found a great deal of fossil evidence in this area.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Alabama was home to at least five different types of dinosaurs throughout history. Scientists were lucky enough to recover fossils from many areas. Some of the fossils are more complete than others, though. As a result, some of the dinosaurs discovered in the state have not been completely identified.

For example, while paleontologists can confidently say they have found fossils belonging to Nodosaurs, they do not have enough evidence to place them in a specific genus. That said, some of the dinosaurs discovered in Alabama were correctly placed within their rightful genus.

Let’s look at the five types of dinosaurs discovered in the state and where you can find their remains today.

1. Appalachiosaurus montgomeriensis

Appalachiosaurus montgomeriensis

This is one of the dinosaurs that used to roam Alabama.

©JJonahJackalope, CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

The Appalachiosaurus montgomeriensis is probably the most famous dinosaur that lived in Alabama. It’s one of the tyrannosaurid theropods, related to the T-rex. The juvenile fossils of this creature were about 21 feet long. Based on the fossils, it’s believed that the dinosaur weighed about 1,373 pounds when it died, but it could have grown even larger.

Scientists also estimate it would have had a bite force of about 7,193 PSI! If you want to see these bones, you can find them at the McWane Science Center.  

2. Eotrachodon orientalis

Eotrachodon orientalis

This dinosaur was approximately 27 feet long.

©Nobu Tamura email:[email protected] http://spinops.blogspot.com/ http://paleoexhibit.blogspot.com/, CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

Eotrachodon orientalis was a hadrosaur discovered in Alabama in 2007. The creature’s fossils were found in the Mooreville Chalk Formation and included a skull and parts of a skeleton. The dinosaur was officially described in 2016.  

This dinosaur lived about 83.5 million years ago and was an herbivore that lived on land. Eotrachodon orientalis measured about 27 feet long.

3. Lophorhothan atopus

Lophorhothon atopus was a hadrosaur that measured between 24 and 35 feet long. These creatures were found in west-central Alabama at the Mooreville Formation. Fossils of this creature were found in the 1940s, but the specimen last walked the Earth about 80 million years ago.

This dinosaur walked on two legs as well as four legs, and it had a duck-billed mouth. Scientists believe that this creature was an herbivore.

4. Nodosaurs, a Mystery Dinosaur in Alabama

The fossils of various Nodosaurs found in Alabama were not complete enough to be assigned to a genus. Still, we know that they are similar to other armored dinosaurs similar to the ankylosaurs.

These dinosaurs were quadrupedal herbivores. Five specimens were found in the southern portion of Alabama that was once the coastline. Future discoveries could help scientists determine exactly what species and genera lived in this area. For now, they will remain a mystery.

5. Coelosaurus antiquus

Coelosaurus antiquus

is believed to have lived during the Cretaceous period.

©iStock.com/david.costa.art

This is one of the many species of ornithomimids that lived during the Cretaceous period. These dinosaurs are known for being small and bird-like. This creature’s fossil material was discovered in the Mooreville Chalk Formation.

Unfortunately, we don’t know much about this particular dinosaur. We can only make inferences about it based on other ornithomimids that existed in the past.

These five dinosaurs represent many discovered types or species that once lived in Alabama. Now that you know about them, you probably want to know where you can see these fossils. Take a look and learn where you can see the dinosaurs that lived in Alabama.  

Where Can You See Fossils of Dinosaurs that Lived in Alabama?

Any visitors to Alabama that want to learn more about fossils should head to one of these three locations. Each has various fossils on display and an assortment of other interesting exhibits. Just make sure you check if they’re open before you go.

1. Alabama Museum of Natural History

The Alabama Museum of Natural History is located in Tuscaloosa at the University of Alabama. The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except on holidays. You can sign up for group tours or venture into the area alone for a small fee. You can get a great view of Basilosaurus cetoides and other dinosaur fossils.

2. McWane Science Center

The McWane Science Center is located in Birmingham, Alabama. It is home to many great fossil collections, hosts various events, and houses an aquarium and IMAX Dome Theater. This place is open from Wednesday to Sunday, with varying hours.

3. Anniston Museum of Natural History (Anniston Museums and Gardens)

The Anniston Museum of Natural History is located in Anniston, Alabama. They have over 2,000 items on display, including fossils, minerals, and more. They have dinosaur fossils, nature trails, gardens, and more. They’re open Tuesday thru Sunday.

These museums are a great way to see the dinosaurs that lived in Alabama. The next time you are headed toward this state, you should stop and see what they offer!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Daniel Eskridge/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. University of Alabama News Center, Available here: https://news.ua.edu/2017/02/museums-collections-spotlight-basilosaurus-cetoides/