Acrocanthosaurus atokensis ("High-spined lizard (from) Atoka") was a Tyrannosaurus-sized carnivorous theropod that lived 110 - 115 million years ago in present-day, south-central United States. There is no consensus among paleontologists about Acrocanthosaurus's (Acro) prey. One possibility is that it stalked small, plant-eating ornithischians like Tenontosaurus or larger sauropods like Sauroposeidon. We do know that it was the largest known predator during its time and likely stalked its prey in open, arid environments or low-lying riverbeds (Carpenter, 2016).
Acro was originally discovered in early-mid Cretaceous deposits from 125 to 100 million ago, near Atoka, Oklahoma in 1940. Other specimens were found in southeast Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and perhaps Maryland. However, the most complete Acro skeleton was discovered in McCurtain County, about twenty miles from the Museum's front door. Fifty percent of the skeleton, including the entire skull, was excavated over a three year period (1983-86) by avocational paleontologists Cephis Hall and Sid Love.
Unfortunately, several attempts to repair and preserve the fossil remains proved unsuccessful. Consequently, Allen and Fran Graffham of Geological Enterprises in Ardmore, OK assumed responsibility and contracted with the Black Hills Institute for Geological Research in Hill, South Dakota to prepare the fossil. After five years (1991-1996) the fossil was finally available for viewing. The original skeleton is currently housed at the North Carolina Museum of Natural History.
The 40 foot cast displayed at the Museum of the Red River is a faithful copy of the original bones, plus scientifically-determined replacements for those bones not found as part of the specimen. Its acquisition was made possible with donations from the county-wide McCurtain County Acrocanthosaurus Project, led by third and fourth graders over a two-year period. Acro was later named Oklahoma's State Dinosaur. The Museum Store also has several books on Acrocanthosaurus and its discovery available for sale.
Carpenter, Kenneth. Acrocanthosaurus inside and out. Norman: U of Oklahoma, 2016. Print.
Ferrell, Russell, The Bone War of McCurtain County: A true tale of two men's quest for treasure, truth and justice. Texas: Rabelais Publishing. 2015. Print.
Sid Love and Cethis Hall excavating part of Acrocanthosaurus's skull.
The Museum of the Red River's cast skeleton of Acrocanthosaurus atokensis.
Acrocanthosaurus and Sauroposeidon on the Oklahoma Plain. Julius Csotonyi (Canada, 2007).