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Types of Raptor Dinosaurs

Types of Raptor Dinosaurs


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Raptors-small- to medium-sized feathered dinosaurs equipped with single, long, curving hind claws on their hind feet-were among the most fearsome predators of the Mesozoic Era. On the following slides, you'll find pictures and detailed profiles of over 25 raptors, ranging from A (Achillobator) to Z (Zhenyuanlong).

01of 29

Achillobator

Matt Martyniuk/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.5

Achillobator was named after the hero of Greek myth (its name is actually a combination of Greek and Mongolian, "Achilles warrior"). Not much is known about this central Asian raptor, whose oddly shaped hips set it slightly apart from others of its kind.

02of 29

Adasaurus

Karkemish/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

Name

Adasaurus (Greek for "Ada lizard"); pronounced AY-dah-SORE-us

Habitat

Woodlands of central Asia

Historical Period

Late Cretaceous (75-65 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 5 feet long and 50-75 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Tall skull; short claws on hind feet; probable feathers

Adasaurus (named after an evil spirit from Mongolian mythology) is one of the more obscure raptors to be unearthed in central Asia, much less well-known than its close contemporary Velociraptor. To judge by its limited fossil remains, Adasaurus had an unusually tall skull for a raptor (which doesn't necessarily mean that it was smarter than others of its kind), and the single, oversized claws on each of its hind feet were positively puny compared to those of Deinonychus or Achillobator. About the size of a large turkey, Adasaurus preyed on the smaller dinosaurs and other animals of late Cretaceous central Asia.

03of 29

Atrociraptor

FunkMonk/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Name

Atrociraptor (Greek for "cruel thief"); pronounced ah-TROSS-ih-rap-tore

Habitat

Woodlands of North America

Historical Period

Late Cretaceous (70 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About three feet long and 20 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Small size; short snout with backward-curving teeth

It's amazing how a mere name can color our view of a long-extinct dinosaur. For all intents and purposes, Atrociraptor was very similar to Bambiraptor-both were puny, albeit dangerous, raptors with sharp teeth and ripping hind claws-but judging by their names you'd probably want to pet the latter and run away from the former. Whatever the case, Atrociraptor was certainly deadly for its size, as demonstrated by its backward-curving teeth-the only conceivable function of which would have been to tear off jagged chunks of meat (and prevent live prey from escaping).

04of 29

Austroraptor

ESV/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Name

Austroraptor (Greek for "southern thief"); pronounced AW-stroh-rap-tore

Habitat

Woodlands of South America

Historical Period

Late Cretaceous (70 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 16 feet long and 500 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Large size; narrow snout; short arms

As with all types of dinosaurs, paleontologists are unearthing new raptors all the time. One of the latest to join the flock is Austroraptor, which was "diagnosed" in 2008 based on a skeleton dug up in Argentina (hence the "austro," meaning "south," in its name). To date, Austroraptor is the largest raptor yet discovered in South America, measuring a full 16 feet from head to tail and probably weighing in the neighborhood of 500 pounds-proportions that would have given its North American cousin, Deinonychus, a run for its money, but would have made it no match for the nearly one-ton Utahraptor that lived tens of millions of years earlier.

05of 29

Balaur

Jaime Headden/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

Name

Balaur (Romanian for "dragon"); pronounced BAH-lore

Habitat

Woodlands of eastern Europe

Historical Period

Late Cretaceous (70-65 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About three feet long and 25 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Muscular build; double claws on hind feet

Its full name, Balaur bondoc, makes it sound like the supervillain from a James Bond movie, but if anything this dinosaur was even more interesting: an island-dwelling, late Cretaceous raptor with a host of weird anatomical features. First, unlike other raptors, Balaur sported two oversized, curved claws on each of its hind feet, rather than one; and second, this predator cut an unusually squat, muscular profile, very unlike its lithe, speedy cousins like Velociraptor and Deinonychus. In fact, Balaur possessed such a low center of gravity that it may have been capable of tackling much larger dinosaurs (especially if it hunted in packs).

Why did Balaur occupy a position so far outside the raptor norm? Well, it seems that this dinosaur was restricted to an island environment, which can produce some strange evolutionary results-witness the "dwarf" titanosaur Magyarosaurus, which only weighed a ton or so, and the comparably shrimpy duck-billed dinosaur Telmatosaurus. Clearly, Balaur's anatomical traits were an adaptation to the limited flora and fauna of its island habitat, and this dinosaur evolved in its strange direction thanks to millions of years of isolation.

06of 29

Bambiraptor

Ballista/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Its warm, fuzzy name invokes images of gentle, furry forest creatures, but the fact is Bambiraptor was as vicious as a pit bull-and its fossil has yielded valuable clues about the evolutionary relationship between dinosaurs and birds.

07of 29

Buitreraptor

FunkMonk/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Name

Buitreraptor (combination Spanish/Greek for "vulture thief"); pronounced BWEE-tray-rap-tore

Habitat

Plains of South America

Historical Period

Late Cretaceous (90 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About four feet long and 25 pounds

Diet

Small animals

Distinguishing Characteristics

Long, narrow snout; smooth teeth; probably feathers

Only the third raptor ever to be discovered in South America, Buiteraptor was on the small side, and the lack of serrations on its teeth indicate that it fed on much smaller animals, rather than ripping into the flesh of its fellow dinosaurs. As with other raptors, paleontologists have reconstructed Buitreraptor as covered with feathers, connoting its close evolutionary relationship to modern birds. (By the way, this dinosaur's odd name stems from the fact that it was unearthed, in 2005, in the La Buitrera area of Patagonia-and since Buitrera is Spanish for "vulture," the moniker seemed appropriate!)

08of 29

Changyuraptor

Emily Willoughby/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Name

Changyuraptor (Greek for "Changyu thief"); pronounced CHANG-yoo-rap-tore

Habitat

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period

Early Cretaceous (125 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About three feet long and 10 pounds

Diet

Small animals

Distinguishing Characteristics

Four wings; long feathers

As is often the case when a brand-new dinosaur is discovered, there has been a lot of speculation about Changyuraptor, not all of which is warranted. Specifically, the media have been touting the hypothesis that this raptor-a relative of the much smaller, and also four-winged, Microraptor-was capable of powered flight. While it's true that the tail feathers of Changyuraptor were a foot long, and may have served some navigational function, it may also be the case that they were strictly ornamental and only evolved as a sexually selected characteristic.

Another clue that Changyuraptor's aerial bona-fides are being overstated is that this raptor was fairly large, about three feet from head to tail, which would render it much less airworthy than Microraptor (after all, modern turkeys have feathers, too!). At the very least, though, Changyuraptor should shed new light on the process by which the feathered dinosaurs of the early Cretaceous period learned to fly.

09of 29

Cryptovolans

Stephen A. Czerkas/Prehistoric Wiki

Name

Cryptovolans (Greek for "hidden flyer"); pronounced CRIP-toe-VO-lanz

Habitat

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period

Early Cretaceous (130-120 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About three feet long and 5-10 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Long tail; feathers on front and hind limbs

True to the "crypto" in its name, Cryptovolans has occasioned its share of disputes among paleontologists, who aren't quite sure how to classify this early Cretaceous feathered dinosaur. Some experts believe that Cryptovolans is actually a "junior synonym" of the better known Microraptor, a four-winged raptor that made a big splash in paleontology circles a couple of years ago, while others maintain that it deserves its own genus, mainly because of its longer-than-Microraptor tail. Adding to the mystery, one scientist insists that Cryptovolans not only merits its own genus but was more evolved toward the bird end of the dinosaur-bird spectrum than even Archaeopteryx-and thus should be considered a prehistoric bird rather than a feathered dinosaur!

10of 29

Dakotaraptor

Emily Willoughby/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

The late Cretaceous Dakotaraptor is only the second raptor ever to be discovered in the Hell Creek formation; the type fossil of this dinosaur bears unmistakable "quill knobs" on its front limbs, meaning it almost certainly possessed winged forearms. See an in-depth profile of Dakotaraptor

11of 29

Deinonychus

Emily Willoughby/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

The "Velociraptors" in Jurassic Park were actually modeled after the Deinonychus, a fierce, man-sized raptor distinguished by the huge claws on its back feet and its grasping hands-and that wasn't nearly as smart as it has been depicted in the movies.

12of 29

Dromaeosauroides

FunkMonk/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Name

Dromaeosauroides (Greek for "like Dromaeosaurus"); pronounced DROE-may-oh-SORE-oy-deez

Habitat

Woodlands of northern Europe

Historical Period

Early Cretaceous (140 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 10 feet long and 200 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Large head; curved claws on hind feet; probably feathers

The name Dromaeosauroides is quite a mouthful and has probably rendered this meat-eater less well-known to the public than it rightfully should be. Not only is this the only dinosaur ever to be discovered in Denmark (a couple of fossilized teeth recovered from the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm), but it's also one of the earliest identified raptors, dating to the early Cretaceous period, 140 million years ago. As you may have guessed, the 200-pound Dromaeosauroides was named in reference to the better-known Dromaeosaurus ("running lizard"), which was much smaller and lived tens of millions of years later.

13of 29

Dromaeosaurus

Yinan Chen/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Name

Dromaeosaurus (Greek for "running lizard"); pronounced DRO-may-oh-SORE-us

Habitat

Plains of North America

Historical Period

Late Cretaceous (75 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About six feet long and 25 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Small size; powerful jaws and teeth; probably feathers

Dromaeosaurus is the eponymous genus of dromaeosaurs, the smallish, speedy, bipedal, probably feather-covered dinosaurs better known to the general public as raptors. Still, this dinosaur differed from more famous raptors like Velociraptor in some important respects: the skull, jaws, and teeth of Dromaeosaurus were relatively robust, for instance, a very tyrannosaur-like trait for such a small animal. Despite its standing among paleontologists, Dromaeosaurus (Greek for "running lizard") isn't very well represented in the fossil record; all we know of this raptor amounts to a few scattered bones unearthed in Canada in the early 20th century, mostly under the supervision of the buccaneering fossil-hunter Barnum Brown.

Analysis of its fossils reveals that Dromaeosaurus was a more formidable dinosaur than Velociraptor: its bite may have been three times as powerful (in terms of pounds per square inch) and it preferred to disembowel its prey with its toothy snout, rather than the single, oversized claws on each of its hind feet. The recent discovery of a closely related raptor, Dakotaraptor, lends added weight to this "teeth first" theory; like Dromaeosaurus, this dinosaur's hind claws were relatively inflexible, and wouldn't have been of much use in close-quarters combat.

14of 29

Graciliraptor

FunkMonk/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Name

Graciliraptor (Greek for "graceful thief"); pronounced grah-SILL-ih-rap-tore

Habitat

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period

Early Cretaceous (125 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About three feet long and a few pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Small size; feathers; large, single claws on hind feet

Discovered in China's famous Liaoning fossil beds-the final resting place of a huge variety of small, feathered dinosaurs from the early Cretaceous period-Graciliraptor is one of the earliest and smallest raptors yet identified, measuring only about three feet long and weighing a couple of pounds soaking wet. In fact, paleontologists speculate that Graciliraptor occupied a position close to the "last common ancestor" of raptors, troodontids (feathered dinosaurs closely related to Troodon), and the first true birds of the Mesozoic Era, which probably evolved around this time. Though it's unclear whether it was similarly equipped, Graciliraptor also seems to have been closely related to the famous, four-winged Microraptor, which arrived on the scene a few million years later.

15of 29

Linheraptor

Smokeybjb/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Name

Linheraptor (Greek for "Linhe hunter"); pronounced LIN-heh-rap-tore

Habitat

Plains of central Asia

Historical Period

Late Cretaceous (85-75 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About six feet long and 25 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Long legs and tail; bipedal posture; probably feathers

The amazingly well-preserved fossil of Linheraptor was discovered during an expedition to the Linhe region of Mongolia in 2008, and two years of preparation have revealed a sleek, probably feathered raptor that prowled the plains and woodlands of late Cretaceous central Asia in search of food. Comparisons to another Mongolian dromaeosaur, Velociraptor, are inevitable, but one of the authors of the paper announcing Linheraptor says it's best compared to the equally obscure Tsaagan (yet another, similar raptor, Mahakala, has been found in these same fossil beds).

16of 29

Luanchuanraptor

FunkMonk/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Name

Luanchuanraptor (Greek for "Luanchuan thief"); pronounced loo-WAN-chwan-rap-tore

Habitat

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period

Late Cretaceous (70 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 3-4 feet long and 5-10 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Small size; bipedal posture; probably feathers

As obscure as it is, the tiny, probably feathered Luanchuanraptor occupies an important place in the dinosaur record books: it was the first Asian raptor to be discovered in eastern rather than northeastern China (most dromaeosaurs from this part of the world, like Velociraptor, lived further west, in modern-day Mongolia). Other than that, Luanchuanraptor seems to have been a fairly typical "dino-bird" for its time and place, possibly hunting in packs to overwhelm the bigger dinosaurs that counted as its prey. Like other feathered dinosaurs, Luanchuanraptor occupied an intermediate branch on the tree of bird evolution.

17of 29

Microraptor

CoreyFord/Getty Images

Microraptor fits uneasily into the raptor family tree. This tiny dinosaur had wings on both its front and back limbs, but it probably wasn't capable of powered flight: rather, paleontologists picture it gliding (like a flying squirrel) from tree to tree.

18of 29

Neuquenraptor

PaleoGeekSquared/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Name

Neuquenraptor (Greek for "Neuquen thief"); pronounced NOY-kwen-rap-tore

Habitat

Woodlands of South America

Historical Period

Late Cretaceous (90 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About six feet long and 50 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Large size; bipedal posture; feathers

If only the paleontologists who discovered it had gotten their act together, Neuquenraptor might stand today as the first identified raptor from South America. Unfortunately, this feathered dinosaur's thunder wound up being stolen by Unenlagia, which was discovered in Argentina a few months later but, thanks to a canny bit of analytical work, named first. Today, the weight of the evidence is that Neuquenraptor was actually a species (or specimen) of Unenlagia, characterized by its unusually large size and its propensity for flapping its arms (but not actually flying).

19of 29

Nuthetes

Mark Witton/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

 

Name

Nuthetes (Greek for "monitor"); pronounced noo-THEH-teez

Habitat

Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period

Early Cretaceous (145-140 million years ago)

Size

About six feet long and 100 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Small size; bipedal posture; possibly feathers

As problematic genera go, Nuthetes has proven a tough nut to crack. It took over a decade after its discovery (in the mid-19th century) for this dinosaur to be classified as a theropod. The question was exactly what kind of theropod: was Nuthetes a close relative of Proceratosaurus, an ancient forebear of Tyrannosaurus Rex, or a Velociraptor-like dromaeosaur? The problem with this last category (which has only reluctantly been accepted by paleontologists) is that Nuthetes dates to the early Cretaceous period, over 140 million years ago, which would make it the earliest raptor in the fossil record. The jury, pending further fossil discoveries, is still out.

20of 29

Pamparaptor

Eloy Manzanero/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Name

Pamparaptor (Greek for "Pampas thief"); pronounced PAM-pah-rap-tore

Habitat



Comments:

  1. Cunningham

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  2. Trenten

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