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Bambiraptor (Oxford Museum of Natural History)


Bambiraptor (Greek for "Bambi thief"); pronounced BAM-bee-rap-tore


Plains of western North America

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (75 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 2 feet long and 5 pounds



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; relatively large brain


About Bambiraptor:

Seasoned paleontologists spend their entire careers trying to discover fossils of new dinosaurs--so they must have been envious when a 14-year-old boy stumbled upon the near-complete skeleton of Bambiraptor in 1995, in Montana's Glacier National Park. Named after the famous Disney cartoon character, this tiny, bipedal, birdlike raptor may have been covered with feathers, and its brain was almost as big as that of modern birds (which may not seem like much of a compliment, but still made it smarter than most other dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous period).

The most important thing about Bambiraptor, though, is how complete its skeleton is--it has been called the "Rosetta Stone" of raptors by paleontologists, who study it intently in an attempt to puzzle out the evolutionary relationship of ancient dinosaurs and modern birds. (Lest you get the wrong idea, despite Bambiraptor's cute name this dinosaur was every bit as vicious as bigger raptors like Velociraptor or Utahraptor; you certainly wouldn't want to approach it in a petting zoo!)


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