Austroraptor – Fossil Discovery in Argentina

Austroraptor DrawingWith a name like Austroraptor, you might think this dinosaur has been discovered in Australia or Austria. However, this theropod was actually found in Argentina, in 2002 by Fernando Emilio Novas and his team. Further specimens were discovered in 2008. The term “Austro” in this case actually means “Southern”.

 

Austroraptor to Human SizeAustroraptor was a theropod, in the same group as Tyrannosaurus rex, but it also belonged to a smaller family of dinosaurs known as dromaeosaurs. Of the dromaeosaurs, Austroraptor was the largest. When compared to the other dinosaurs living in its area at the time, it was about medium size. It probably measured about 16 feet from snout to tip of tail, as an adult. Standing, they might have been as tall, or just slightly taller, than the average human. There has been some disagreement about the weight of this dinosaur, with estimates ranging from 500 pounds to almost 700 pounds.

Like many theropods, the forelimbs of Austroraptor were very small. The length of its humerus was less than half the length of its femur. While this is typical of most theropods, among dromaeosaurs this was less common, with Austroraptor being a rarity. Because of the small size of their arms, Austroraptor likely would not have been able to use their arms while hunting and would probably have to have relied on their teeth instead.

 

Austroraptor FossilsIt is believed that Austroraptor was agile and capable of maintaining moderate to high speeds for long enough to chase down prey. Therefore it is thought that they were active hunters rather than scavengers. Their most likely prey was small animals and not dinosaurs of comparable size or large herbivores.

Around 70 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period at the time of Austroraptor, what is now Argentina (and was known as the larger continent of Gondwanaland) was filled with diverse types of dinosaurs, from many large sauropods to some larger raptors, to even some of the first early mammals. Austroraptor was the first dromaeosaur to be discovered in this area. It is thought that Austroraptor, along with other, smaller dinosaurs, lived inland away from the ocean, and that larger theropods lived along the coast.

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