Utahraptor is the largest known species of dromaeosaur (raptor), standing 7-8 feet tall, 24 feet long and weighing as much as a grizzly bear. But did you know that paleontologists once thought there was a raptor that was even larger? The fossils of Megaraptor (meaning “giant thief”), discovered in 1996, are known from Argentina and include a few toe and leg bones. Scientists used these fragmentary remains to estimate that the entire animal was 26 feet long. The most bone-chilling discovery surrounding Megaraptor was an enormous sickle-shaped claw that was 14-inches! Yikes! It’s no wonder that paleontologists quickly assigned this animal to the dromaeosauridae family, calling it the largest raptor known to exist (top image). This changed when another dinosaur, Australovenator, was discovered in Australia in 2009. Australovenator was far more similar to Megaraptor than any dromaeosaurid, revealing that Megaraptor belonged in a separate family altogether. They dubbed this new family: megaraptoridae. In reality, Megaraptor’s enormous claw was actually situated on its hand (bottom image). During the Antediluvian epoch, ~6,000-4,400 years ago, it performed the role of apex predator, using its sickle-like claw for capturing its prey.
Image Credit: #dinosaurking
& Jan Sovak
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