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Megaraptor (Wikimedia Commons)


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


Woodlands of South America

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (90-85 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 25 feet long and 1-2 tons



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; 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 especially 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 true raptor yet identified, Utahraptor). On closer analysis, though, it turned out that Megaraptor was actually a large theropod closely related to both 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 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.

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