|Raptor Femur with Calcite Crystal Core
from Judith River Formation, Montana USA
75 Million Years, Late Cretaceous Period
Height - 3.5 cm
Width - 5.9 cm
Length - 7.9 cm
Dromaeosaurus ("running lizard”) was a genus of theropod dinosaur which lived during the Late Cretaceous period about 110-65 million years ago.
Dromaeosaurus was the first of the group to have been discovered, and led to the establishment of the family Dromaeosauridae. A main feature of the Dromaeosaurs and other Dromaeosauridae, was the sickle-like claw on it’s hind feet which it would used to attack it’s prey. Considered a formidable hunter the Dromaeosaurids were one of the deadliest dinosaur carnivores.
The first Dromaeosaurus remains to be described were those of which were discovered near the Red Deer River, in Alberta Canada by Barnum Brown in 1914. Unfortunately, as it is often the case with many fossil species, the specimen that Brown collected was far from complete. Consisting of a partial head, lower jaw and a assortment of foot bones. Over the next 50 years nothing more was discovered of the dinosaur and left scientists with many questions of it’s nature and relationship with other types of carnivorous dinosaurs. Consequently Dromaesaurus with group some with the huge ‘carnosaurs’ (such as Tyrannosaurids) with other suggesting that it may of related to the small, slender ‘coelurosaurs’ (small carnivorous dinosaurs such as the Compsognathus. Small dinosaur which grew to about the size of a Turkey)
This unsatisfactory affair was considerably improved by the discovery in 1964 of a new fossil locality in southern Montana, USA. During a two year excavation at this site unearthed several hundred bones of an entirely new carnivorous dinosaur: Deinonychus (’terrible claw’). Study of this dinosaur, which is known from several complete skeletons, has revealed many new and exciting facts, not only about this extraordinary kind of dinosaur but also about it’s kinship with the Dromaeosaurus. This also revealed that both Dromaeosaurus and Deinonychus share both characteristic with both ‘carnosaurs’ and ‘coelurosaurs’ as well as exhibiting features that are unique to this species. One of these main characteristic features was the huge sickle-like claw on the second toe of the foot. Once the unusual nature of the feet of these dinosaurs was appreciated, it became possible to draw comparisons with another dinosaur known since 1924, the now more famous Velociraptor (‘speedy predator’) which also had a sickle-like claw on it’s hind foot. Dromaeosaurids are now known from well preserved remains of the Upper Cretaceous of North America of the Dromaeosaurus, though the Deinonychus in more particular and of the Velociraptor in Mongolia.
Remains of several Deinonychus have found be found together, indicating that it may have hunted in packs, as some would suggest the dinosaur version of today’s wolves. Amazing discoveries of Velociraptor found in Mongolia have shown them in full use of they sickle-like claw against the herbivorous dinosaur Protoceratops, a powerful dinosaur in it’s self but giving the best indication on how these dinosaurs attacked they prey.