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Dromaeosaurus

Dromaeosaurus is a genus of extinct theropod dinosaur that lived around 76.5 and 74.8 million years. Even though it has received widespread attention in popular cultures, yet this genus is poorly known from actual skeletal remains. Its population probably wiped out right before the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event.

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Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Order Saurischia
Suborder Theropoda
Family Dromaeosauridae
Clade Eudromaeosauria
Subfamily Dromaeosaurinae
Genus Dromaeosaurus
Species Dromaeosaurus albertensis (Type Species)
D. explanatus
D. falculus
D. laevifrons
D. gracilis
D. albertensis

Quick Fact Sheet

Pronunciation DRO-mee-o-SAWR-us
Name Meaning Running lizard
Geological Time Period Campanian Stage, Late Cretaceous period
Size Length – 6 to 7 ft
Height – 1.5 to 2 ft (tall at hips)
Weight 30 to 40 lbs
Range/Location North America
Habitat Grasslands and Woodlands
Diet Carnivore
Birth Type (Reproduction) Eggs
Locomotion Bipedal
Sister species Dakotaraptor

Physical Description

Dromaeosaurus was a small dinosaur – probably around the size of an average sized dog. Some of its physical features were quite similar to Tyrannosaurus. It had a proportionally large and robust skull along with a deep snout. The skull had an enlarged nasal cavity triggering the fact that it had a superb sense of smell. They had a vein on the back of the skull. They had large eyes; powerful jaws; and long, sharp, serrated teeth (9 in each maxilla). It had a flexible and curved neck, small forelegs (with three digits) and strong hind legs. Each leg had large, sickle-shaped claw. They probably had an exoskeleton of feathers. They possessed a long and slender tail.

History and Etymology

The first Dromaeosaurus remains were unearthed in 1914 by American paleontologist Barnum Brown during an American Museum of Natural History expedition to Red Deer River in Alberta, Canada. The holotype (AMNH 5356) had a partial skull, two hyoids, a mandible, a first metacarpal as well as some foot bones. In 1922, the type species Dromaeosaurus albertensis was described by William Diller Matthew and Barnum Brown. Several other fragmentary remains have also been discovered from Montana (United States) and Alberta.

The genus name has derived from Greek words “dromeus” meaning ‘runner’ and “sauros” meaning ‘lizard.’ The species name “albertensis” refers to its place of discovery – Alberta.

Adaptation and Behavior

Dromaeosaurus is believed to be a terrestrial creature. They may have hunted in packs. They probably even preyed on large sauropods. They used their claws and powerful jaws to tear down flesh from their prey. It is not known how they dealt with heavily armored prey. A research conducted in 2005 revealed that Dromaeosaurus’ bite was almost three times more powerful than that of a Velociraptor. Scavenging behavior is also suggested by some researchers. It is not known whether they could run fast or not.

Interesting Facts

  • Researchers suggested that they have evolved in the northernmost parts of Northern America.
  • Dromaeosaurus is poorly known from actual fossils. A first it was thought to be a large dinosaur. The popular Tyrrell Museum model cast was made only after getting sufficient knowledge gained following the discovery of other dromaeosaurids.
  • Some fragmentary remains (dating to 66 million years) suggest that they could have lived during late Maastrichtian age.
  • Dromaeosaurus has been depicted in several toy lines and online games.

Published on January 11th 2016 by under Reptiles.
Article was last reviewed on 16th September 2019.

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