The Tetanuran Theropods

Diverse carnivorous dinosaurs

The Tetanurae are a large, diverse group of theropod dinosaurs, characterized by a few features that most members possess (using the principles of cladistics, we know that those tetanurans that lack these features must have lost them during their evolutionary history). One such feature is an enlarged manus (hand) — especially in the later coelurosaurs. Other typical features present in tetanurans include a loss of the fourth and fifth digits in the manus (hands), and a less flexible tail.

The Tetanurae range from the tiny, meek forms that you may see every day in your backyard pecking at insects or seeds, to the giant terrors that hunted the large herds of other dinosaurs back in the Cretaceous period. Pick one of the two groups below and explore the Tetanurae!


The first main group of Tetanurae are the Carnosauria, which includes such members as Allosaurus fragilis. On average, the carnosaurs were larger than most other theropods.


The other main group of Tetanurae are the Coelurosauria; an extremely diverse group; undoubtedly the most diverse of all dinosaurs. Of course, we are talking about the group that includes birds among other theropods. Recent cladistic studies have agreed that Tyrannosaurus rex is really a coelurosaur rather than a carnosaur.

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