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Ozraptor (Greek for "lizard from Oz"): pronounced OZ-rap-tore


Woodlands of Australia

Historical Period:

Middle Jurassic (175 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About nine feet long and 100 pounds



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Moderate size; bipedal posture

About Ozraptor

Sometimes, a single leg bone can be enough to shed light on a creature that lived 175 million years ago. That's the case with the Australian Ozraptor, the partial tibia of which was first identified as belonging to a Jurassic turtle, and then reassigned to a new (and relatively early) genus of theropod (meat-eating dinosaur) closely related to the South American Abelisaurus. Until more fossil specimens are identified, though, that's all we may ever know about this distinctively named dinosaur--and you should know that many experts are extremely skeptical about the existence of various dinosaur families, such as tyrannosaurs and ornithomimids ("bird mimics"), in the lands Down Under.

One thing you we can definitely say about Ozraptor is that it was not technically a raptor, the family of dinosaurs typified by the North American Deinonychus and the central Asian Velociraptor (somewhat confusingly, paleontologists love to attach the "raptor" root to non-raptor dinosaurs, such as Gigantoraptor and Megaraptor). Raptors were a distinctive family of theropods that lived during the middle to late Cretaceous period, and were characterized, among other things, by their presumed coats of feathers and single, oversized, curving claws on each of their hind feet--thus ruling out the middle Jurassic Ozraptor, whatever type of dinosaur it turns out to be!


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