Dromaeosaurus

The genus Dromaeosaurus encompasses a series of theropod dromeosaur dinosaurs that lived on our planet approximately 76 million years ago, in the Cretaceous Period.

Their fossil remains have been found in North America (Wyoming, Montana and Alaska) and Canada (Alberta and Saskatchewan), so they can now be considered exclusively American.

Its name comes from the Greek language and means “runner reptile”, a characteristic that is not only of the Dromaeosaurus but of the Dromeosaurid family.

It is in this same family that other better known species such as the Utahraptor or the Velociraptor also appear.

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Dromaeosaurus Taxonomy

  • Dromaeosaurus belonged to the kingdom of Animalia.
  • We found it classified in the Chordata phylum.
  • Sauropsida is the class it belonged to.
  • Obviously it’s included in the super-order Dinosauria.
  • The order in which it is classified is Saurischia.
  • It belonged to the suborder of Theropoda.
  • The sub-order in which we find him classified is Coelurosauria.
  • The family it belonged to is Dromaeosauridae.
  • The subfamily he was classified in is Dromaeosaurinae.
  • The genus we are referring to in this article is Dromaeosaurus.

At present, only one species has been determined to belong to this genus, D. albertensis, and this is the type species, since all the scientific research that we can count on at present has been carried out around it.

However, it is very important to clarify at this time that this does not mean that only one species has existed, since the discovery of new fossil remains belonging to the same genus but which present notorious differences could mean the determination of a new species.

For this reason, from this platform we will do everything possible to keep this information updated in the face of any changes that could occur in the taxonomy of this prehistoric animal.

Characteristics of this dinosaur

This specimen, as we can surely deduce, was an animal that could reach great speeds, with a structure of a total length of 180 centimeters and a weight of approximately 28 kilograms.

The most striking quality of this specimen is actually the strange anatomy it presented, due to the way in which its hind limbs are situated, and also because of the curious and powerful claw that this animal possessed right at the end of those limbs.

This powerful claw had the characteristic of being hypertrophied, additionally it was also similar to a sickle, which was precisely located in only one of the total of the fingers, specifically in finger number 2.

If we begin to compare the size of this structure with the size of the claw of other dinosaurs considered within the dromeosaurids, we can say that the two groups turned out to have such a claw, of similar dimensions.

It can also be presumed that both groups of specimens used this resource to attack their fiercest enemies at the moment they needed it.

It is considered that the claw would have been a resource that probably caused numerous and deep wounds in the bodies of those animals that dared to attack or fight with the Dromaeosaurus.

Regarding the cranial element of this dinosaur, we can say that it is different from the skull of other specimens known as Dromaeosaurus, both because of its size, which actually turns out to be smaller, and because of the consistency and solidity of the bone elements that make it up.

These characteristic data of such structure are the ones that actually make it seem that the skull belongs to another dinosaur called Tyrannosaurus, but in a much smaller dimension, so there is no room for confusion anymore.

About the area of the snout we can say that it was really thick and rough, and that it also had a very numerous and rich dental structure inside, whose teeth had a quite dangerous edge and presented a series of curves.

It is believed that these curves helped to hold the victims in place by acting as a hook, so that animals that were trapped between these teeth could not simply pull themselves out.

On the ocular elements we can say that these were lodged in depressions wide enough so as not to suffer the blow of the impact at the moment of trapping the prey.

In addition, it has been discovered that this animal has a structure designed in a perfect way to reduce the damage caused by the impact when moving the teeth when they grind or chew with great power the flesh of the victim they had managed to capture.

That is why this animal is said to have one of the most lethal bites of all the dinosaurs that have ever existed. Its eyeballs were of an enormous dimension, therefore, the field of vision of this singular specimen was one of its main resources when searching for food or taking advantage of the environment to win a fierce fight.

The curious and really interesting thing is that this specimen also had a well developed sense of smell, so it could detect the smells of other animals and even their blood at great distances.

But this was not the only extraordinarily developed sense, since he also had a very well specialized sense of hearing, so it was almost impossible to walk in his territory without being heard by the specimen that is the subject of this article.

On his long neck we can say that he enjoyed the quality of flexibility, and we can clearly see that he has the shape of a curve.

Similarly, the jaws, besides having the same shape, were quite strong, a quality necessary to provide the powerful bite we mentioned earlier.

As for the area of the tail, we can detect that it also enjoyed a lot of flexibility, and we have also discovered that this area of the tail was linked to the body by a set of bony elements that had the shape of a bar.

This structure was capable of ensuring that the tail was almost always in an upright position, that is, in a vertical rather than horizontal position, unlike other known specimens with which it is usually compared.

At first it was believed that some of the teeth of this animal were in the shape of the letter D, however, after further studies several scientific reports were sent in which it was clearly stated and exposed the evidence that this really did not happen in such a way.
Likewise, the skull, which was thought to be a structure with a pneumatized quality (partially hollow, like the bones of today’s birds), was not finally so.

This conclusion was reached because a set of plates were found that were located right in the middle of the teeth, in the same way bone elements were found that belonged to the same skull and that consequently were not pneumatized either.

One detail that has not yet been scientifically verified, but which is very likely to have been the case, is that this specimen called Dromaeosaurus presented a set of elements close to the feathers.

This theory is also applied to other specimens that managed to present such a characteristic, as for example we can mention the Velociraptor, without forgetting that the Microraptor presented these feathers in the same way.

The discovery of the Dromaeosaurus

The species recognized under the name of Dromaeosaurus albertensis was found in 1914, by a subject who would later find the whereabouts of many other remains, a great searcher known as Barnum Brown.

This palaeontologist carried out this work in an area near a river called Red Deer, in the country that is north of the United States.

These remains were in fact a skull that was in a not so bad state of conservation, which presented a length of more than 20 centimeters, also were able to obtain bone elements that belonged to the rear extremities.

Nevertheless, the findings continued to be carried out, since later another group of bone elements and a numerous set of teeth were found in the same province, in the same way this was beginning to happen in the western part of the American country.

It is known and affirmed that the aforementioned species is the one that has been most analyzed due to the quantity and state of the remains found, as well as due to the efforts that have been made by the scientific community.
In addition, it has also been stated that this animal is one of the most scarce in terms of fossil remains, so that in reality the facts that we can get to know about it are not comparable to the information of other specimens, which are obviously better documented.

It was two years after the beginning of the 1920s that scientists such as Barnum Brown and Diller decided to carry out the famous review of this animal.

It is from this moment that this specimen is placed within a totally different family, besides it is known that one of the specimens directly related to him, was Deinonychus himself.

This detail is fundamental, since it was necessary to obtain several structures belonging to the Deinonychus, so that the reconstruction of the bone structure of the Dromaeosaurus could be carried out successfully.

As we already mentioned, although in many books and documents this dinosaur can be observed in a complete way, this is not really the case, since the vestiges are very scarce to be able to really represent the animal.

However, the reconstruction was made thanks to the comparison that is made with other animals that turn out to be true direct relatives of it, only in this way science has managed to recreate and expose the Dromaeosaurus.