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Saurornitholestes (Emily Willoughby)


Saurornitholestes (Greek for "lizard-bird thief"); pronounced sore-OR-nith-oh-LES-tease


Plains of North America

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (75 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 5 feet long and 30 pounds



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Sharp teeth; large claws on feet; probably feathers


About Saurornitholestes:

If only Saurornitholestes had been given a manageable name, it might be as popular as its more famous cousin, Velociraptor. Both these dinosaurs were excellent examples of late Cretaceous dromaeosaurs (better known to the general public as raptors), with their slight, agile builds, sharp teeth, relatively large brains, big-clawed hind feet, and (probably) feathers. Tantalizingly, paleontologists have discovered a wing bone of the huge pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus with a Saurornitholestes tooth embedded inside it. Since it's unlikely that a 30-pound raptor could have taken down a 200-pound pterosaur all by itself, this can be taken as evidence that either a) Saurornitholestes hunted in packs or b) more likely, a lucky Saurornitholestes happened upon an already-dead Quetzalcoatlus and took a bite out of the carcass.


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