Megaraptor

megaraptor
Megaraptor (Wikimedia Commons).

Name:

Megaraptor (Greek for "giant thief"); pronounced MEG-ah-rap-tore

Habitat:

Plains and woodlands of South America

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (90-85 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 25 feet long and 1-2 tons

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; bipedal posture; long, single claws on front hands

 

About Megaraptor

Like another impressively named beast, Gigantoraptor, Megaraptor has been a bit oversold, in that this large, carnivorous dinosaur wasn't technically a true raptor.

When the scattered fossils of Megaraptor were discovered in Argentina in the late 1990's, paleontologists were impressed by a single, foot-long claw, which they assumed was located on this dinosaur's hind feet--hence its classification as a raptor (and one that would have been even bigger than the biggest raptor yet identified, Utahraptor). On closer analysis, though, it turned out that Megaraptor was actually a large theropod closely related to Allosaurus and Neovenator, and that those single, oversized claws were located on its hands rather than its feet. Sealing the deal, Megaraptor has proved to be similar in appearance to another large theropod from Australia, Australovenator, a hint that Australia may have been connected to South America later into the Cretaceous period than was previously thought.

Its place in the dinosaur bestiary aside, what was Megaraptor actually like? Well, it wouldn't be surprising if this South American dinosaur was covered with feathers (at least during some stage of its life cycle), and it almost certainly subsisted on the small, skittery ornithopods of its late Cretaceous ecosystem, or perhaps even on newborn titanosaurs.

Megaraptor may also have encountered, or even preyed on, one of the few true raptors of South America, the appropriately named Austroraptor (which only weighed about 500 pounds, or a quarter of Megaraptor's size).

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Strauss, Bob. "Megaraptor." ThoughtCo, Jan. 24, 2017, thoughtco.com/megaraptor-1091710. Strauss, Bob. (2017, January 24). Megaraptor. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/megaraptor-1091710 Strauss, Bob. "Megaraptor." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/megaraptor-1091710 (accessed May 21, 2018).