Dromaeosaurus albertensis "Swift Running Lizard"
Length:6 feet (1.8 m)
Weight:33 pounds (15 kilos)
Where found: Alberta, Canada; Montana, USA
Dromaeosaurus was the original raptor. It was a small, vicious hunter that had a mouth full of serrated, razor-sharp teeth and a sharp, hooked claw on each foot that it used to clamp down on its victims. It was about the size of a large dog. Its jaws were long and solidly built for its size, and its neck was curved and flexible. It may have been able to smell its prey, and it probably possessed a good sense of hearing. Its tail was sheathed in a lattice of bony rods but was flexible at the base, allowing it to be carried in a sharply upturned aerial like position. Its remarkably large eyes gave it excellent vision. Its vicious sickle like claws, although shorter than those of other dromaeosaurs, still gave it a distinct advantage over most of its prey.
The first and only good Dromaeosaurus remains were found by Barnum Brown on the south bank of the Red Deer River in 1914. It was named by Matthews and Brown in 1922. It was the first dromaeosaur to be discovered and its name was later used for the family.
When first discovered, Dromaeosaurus was hard to classify. It had such large foot bones that it was thought to be a much larger dinosaur. It had a large brain for its size, large eyes and grasping hands. Because of this, scientists thought that it was more than twice its actual size. It wasn't until almost 50 years after the discovery of the type specimen that it was formally classified into its own family. All the other raptor dinosaurs, such as Deinonychus and Velociraptor, are members of the dromaeosaur family. Several later discoveries disclosed Dromaeosaurus teeth among the bones of much larger dinosaurs. This led to speculation that dromaeosaurs attacked larger animals, but the teeth may simply have washed into the site.
Dromaeosaurus differs from most other Dromaeosauridae in having a short, massive skull, a deep mandible, and large, straight teeth. In these respects, Dromaeosaurus resembles the tyrannosaurs. A few bones are known from the hindlimb, they indicate that Dromaeosaurus was a fairly massive animal for its size. Exactly how it lived and what it ate are still open to speculation. The teeth show heavy wear and seem to be used for crushing and tearing rather than slicing through flesh; it is possible that Dromaeosaurus was more of a scavenger than other small theropods.
Dromaeosaurus seems to have become extinct about 70 million years ago, well before the Cretaceous Tertiary Boundary. The type species is D. albertensis. The other species, lacking in material, may well be synonymous with it.
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8.5 x 4 x 4.5 inches
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