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Variraptor (Wikimedia Commons)


Variraptor (Greek for "Var River thief"); pronounced VAH-ree-rap-tore


Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (85-65 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 7 feet long and 100-200 pounds



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long arms; long, lightly built skull with numerous teeth


About Variraptor:

Despite its impressive name, the French Variraptor occupies a place on the second tier of the raptor family, since not everyone accepts that this dinosaur's scattered fossil remains add up to a convincing genus (and it's not even clear exactly when this dromaeosaur lived). As it has been reconstructed, Variraptor was slightly smaller than the North American Deinonychus, with a proportionately lighter head and longer arms. There's also some speculation that (unlike most raptors) Variraptor may have been a scavenger rather than an active hunter, though the case for that would certainly be bolstered by more convincing fossil remains.

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