The spoon-toothed dinosaur
- Name: Austroraptor
- Diet: Carnivore
- Weight: 400 kg
- Period: Cretaceous
- Found In: Argentina
The genus Austroraptor encompassed a number of species of Saurian dinosaurs, drowned theropods, which lived during the Cretaceous Period. As dromeosaurids, they were characterized by an agile body and a sickle-shaped claw on their hind limbs.
The Austroraptor was about 6 meters long, one and a half meters high, reaching a maximum height of 2 meters, and had a weight of 400 kilograms. Despite these small dimensions (compared to the average dinosaur) it is one of the largest drowned dinosaurs ever found.
If you are interested in more information about the Austroraptor… On this page, you will learn everything about this carnivorous Cretaceous dinosaur.
The Austroraptor was a fairly large specimen among the dinosaurs in his family. Even so, the prey it hunted were often larger and therefore needed to be attacked in groups.
As far as we know, he was quite a bold animal, but before explaining his features in detail, let’s take a look at the basic information about this dromeosaurid.
- How long is it? It is about 20 feet long.
- What is your height? Between 1.5 and 2 meters.
- What is your weight? The approximate weight of the Austroraptor is only 400 kilograms (compared to other dinosaurs).
- When did he live? He lived on Earth about 70 million years ago.
- Which one’s his family? The Austroraptor family is the Dromeosauridae.
Animal Kingdom > Chordata Edge > Superorder Dinosauria > Order Saurischia > Suborder Theropoda > Infraorden Coelusauria > Family Dromeosauridae > Subfamily Unenlaglinae > Gender Austroraptor
Currently, only one species of this genus, the Austroraptor cabazai, has been discovered. In the future, it is not ruled out that more of this genre may be found, in which case we will update this information.
The family Dromeosauridae
Austroraptors belong to the family of dromeosaurids and have been classified within it because they share most of its characteristics (morphology).
For this reason, it is advisable to know a little more about dromeosaurids before going into more detail about the features of the Austroraptor.
Today’s birds are closely related to this family of dinosaurs. In fact, dromeosaurids could be considered as giant predecessors of birds.
That’s why several theories have emerged that birds may have been present in the dinosaur era. Now let’s talk a little more about the characteristics of this family.
This group of dinosaurs not only has its own characteristic features that differentiate it from the others but also belongs to and adopts the characteristics of a larger group, the theropods.
The family of the dromeosaurids is just one more family within the Suborder Theropoda that includes several families.
They adopt some basic characteristics of the theropods such as the distinctive long, curved “S” neck and a relatively short body compared to their tail and head.
In dromeosaurids, a relatively large skull can be seen. They have saw-shaped teeth which they can bite and feed on other dinosaurs.
The muzzle of this animal was quite narrow and its eyes stared straight ahead, limiting its angle of view.
In addition, something that only they could do, bend their upper extremities (arms) and bend them so that they were attached to the body. They had really big hands with respect to the rest of their body and had three long fingers on them.
The longest finger was the middle finger while the first was the shortest. The three fingers had large claws with which they could tear their prey apart.
The pubic parts of this animal protruded from his body, at the point where his hips were attached to the base of his tail.
The tails of the dromeosaurids were quite long and thin. Almost all of the tail had bone vertebrae with rod-shaped extensions and bony tendons, but they lacked completely neural spines.
This translates into a rather rigid tail and the only way they had to move their tail was thanks to the base. That is to say, its tail remained completely motionless and articulated at the junction between it and the body.
Returning to the subject of their legs, as indicated they were bipedal dinosaurs (using their hind legs). The characteristic feature of this family of dinosaurs is that they did not support all their legs to walk.
As he walked, all the weight fell on the third and fourth fingers, while the second finger had a sickle-shaped claw with which he would have grabbed and shredded his prey.
The relationship with birds is not only because of everything described so far, but also because the dromeosaurids were covered with feathers.
Some of them had long feathers and others had short feathers. If these dinosaurs existed today, they could be somewhat large (giant birds), although they were really small compared to their contemporaries, with a height of approximately one and a half meters.
Why were they called dromeosaurids?
Generally, the dental morphology of dinosaurs is used to establish their name. This is the case in many cases, although there is obviously no obligation to do so. The suffix saurus was also added because of the great resemblance of dinosaurs to lizards.
In the case of the dromeosaurids, what gives them their name is their high speed.
Barnum Brown and William Diller Mateo were responsible for his name. This happened in 1922 and at first it became a subfamily of the Deinodontinae family. It has now established itself as a family apart from the deinodontides.
The word Dromeosauridae has its origin in two Greek words. The word dromeus means runner and saurus means lizard.
The actual meaning of their name would be runner lizards, although they are often referred to as rapacious lizards.
What really characterizes the Austroraptors genus with the rest of the dromeosaurids is its large size. He had a large size to belong to this family.
The only known species, Austroraptor cabazai, measured approximately 5 metres from head to tail.
The head of this species had a rather peculiar shape. The skull he possessed was quite elongated but barely tall. From the beak to the crown of the head, his skull would be about 80 centimeters, much larger than the other genera in his family.
Even so, the similarity with their co-family members was undeniable, especially with the Deinonychus troodontide.
This species of dinosaur had a very strange phalangeal morphology, where it was almost twice as long as the others and with a width that exceeded three times that expected.
In addition, they had short arms compared to the rest of the dromeosaurids. It also happens with his forearms, which are shorter and more similar to those of a Tyrannosaurus rex.
True to the unofficial name of his family of “giant birds”, the Austroraptor had a fairly long muzzle. The teeth he had were somewhat small and conical in shape.
The shape of their teeth is closely related to that of the spinosaurids.
More technical features about the Austroraptor
The short length of its arms is not the only thing that is different from other dromeosaurids. It had a rounded tear duct, with the downward process inclined and curved towards the rotal and the caudal process came out horizontally over the orbit (this differentiated it from the dromeosaurids that lived in Laurasia).
The dorsomedial process is missing in the postorbital region to favor the articulation with the frontal region, and the squamous process is extremely reduced, making it another unique characteristic.
The teeth and jaws are smaller and more conical, without the corresponding serrated edge that the others have to tear the meat (a much clearer example would be the Vulture Raptor).
His humerus is quite short, measuring just under 50% of the length size of his femur, and has a smaller ratio compared to the rest of the dinosaurs in his family.
Its second pedal phalanx is transversely narrow, in contrast to the robust IV-2 phalanx, which distinguishes it from the other genres in the dromeosacuride family.
Why was it called Austroraptor?
The history of his name is at least interesting. Unlike other dinosaur names, their name has not been explicitly given by the morphology of their teeth or by any special quality or characteristic. The cause of his name is much simpler than that.
It was named and described in 2008 by a group of researchers (Diego Pol, Emilio Fernando Novas, Juan Porfiri and Jorge Calvo). Austroraptor would come to mean “thief of the South”.
It comes from the words auster (Latin) which means south wind (southern) and the American word raptor which means thief. The intention and meaning of its name is to indicate that it was found in South America.
The name of the only species of Austroraptor is in honor of the founder of the Lamarque City Museum. The founder’s name was Héctor Calabaza, hence the name of the cabazai species.
A noble gesture on the part of the paleontologists to pay tribute to the museum that collaborated with the research.
Some details and curiosities about the Austroraptors
The two hind legs they used to walk on are really very similar to those of a current hen. What’s more, they could have made strides similar to those made by the hen. Another reason for the possible relationship between dromeosaurids (Austroraptor) and current birds (hen).
According to their characteristics, it is suspected that they could not have used their arms to fly. Due to the size of the body and its extremities, it could not have supported the weight even for gliding, and it is thought that they would have been used more for more aerodynamic running.
The Austroraptor is the last existing record of drowning dinosaurs in the Gondwana region. It has managed to increase the morphological differences within the Unenlagiinid dinosaurs (the subfamily to which it belongs within the dromeosaurids).
The remains of this specimen can be found in the Municipal Museum of Lamarque, which is in Argentina. If you would like to see the bones of this spectacular dinosaur, the Lamarque Museum is the only place where you can find its remains.
At what time did the Austroraptor live?
The Austroraptor cabazai is one of the thousands and thousands of species that came into existence on Earth and have become extinct. Fortunately, they have not completely disappeared and have left their fossil remains.
Thanks to the research of paleontologists, we can gradually discover more about the past of our planet and all the species it saw inhabit.
Although now extinct, dinosaurs have inhabited the planet for millions of years. Many species of dinosaurs have been found, not to mention those that are still to be found and those that will never be found because their remains have ceased to exist.
Within all of them, the Austroraptor is one of the closest dinosaurs to our times that have inhabited the Earth.
According to studies and the location of its remains in the stratographic layers, the Austroraptor cabazai inhabited the plant some 70 million years ago.
The Maastricht Age is the last stage in the Upper Period, the Cretaceous Period and also the Mesozoic Era. The Maastricht Age marked the end of the Mesozoic Age, also known as the dinosaur era.
Why did the Austroraptors become extinct?
The cause of the extinction of the Austroraptors is the same as that of the 75% of species that existed at that time; the great extinction of the Cretaceous-Paleogeneus.
The specific reason why so many species suddenly disappeared is not known, although the most accepted theory is that an asteroid about 10km wide collided with the planet.
The Austroraptor would not have withstood the impact of that meteorite that meant their extinction like that of many other living beings.
Where in the world did the Austroraptor live?
The area where this dinosaur species lived is deduced from the location of the animal’s remains. It was found in South America, specifically in the area of Argentina.
It is possible that this species and/or genus has inhabited more areas of the continent, but this remains to be seen.
In the Late Cretaceous Maastricht, the area of Argentina was full of forests and trees that fed the Saltasaurus and Rocasaurus.
These would have been the prey and would have suffered the ambushes typical of the Austroraptor.
What did the Austroraptors feed on?
Throughout the text we have explained that this was a predatory dinosaur. The Austroraptor were carnivorous animals that fed on other animals and dinosaurs they inhabited.
Their small size in comparison to other dinosaurs is probably one of the reasons why they ended up as carnivores in their evolutionary process.
Their short stature would not have allowed them to reach food and they had to find another way to feed themselves, in this case by feeding on other animals.
Due to their small size, they were not able to fight alone with the large boiling dinosaurs. They would gather in groups of two or three and attack the same prey in ambushes.
They used their large claws and sharp teeth to wound and kill prey in order to eat them.
In his natural habitat he would have encountered dinosaurs such as: titanosaurids, Rocasaurus and Saltasaurus.
Who discovered this bipedal dinosaur?
The MML-195 holotype is one of only two samples of Austroraptor remains that exist. No further remains of this species and genus of dinosaurs have yet been found.
It was recovered in the Allen Formation in the Río Negro, located in the town of Bajo de Santa Rosa in Argentina.
The discovery of the holotype was made in 2002 by the exploration team of Fernando Emilio Novas, from the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales.
In these samples are found its partial skeleton and the skull of the animal.
The second specimen of the Austroraptor cabazai was found in 2008. Ariana Paulina-Carbajal and Phil Curie refer to this specimen in 2012, named MML-220.
In this sample there is a partial skeleton and a skull smaller than the first one. The good thing about these remains is that they complement each other with the other remains of the first one and with it the hand, foot and lower arm could be better determined.
We hope you enjoyed the information on this page. If you think there is anything missing about the Austroraptor, we are happy to hear about it. Also if you have any questions, suggestions or contributions do not hesitate to let us know.