Utahraptor - Wiki
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[Photo] A model of Utahraptor. Photographer: User:Ballista http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Ballista
Fossil range: Early Cretaceous
Utahraptor (meaning "Utah thief") is the largest known member of the theropod dinosaur family Dromaeosauridae, and dates from the upper Barremian stage of the Early Cretaceous period (132-119 million years ago).
James Kirkland, Rob Gaston, and Don Burge discovered Utahraptor in 1993 in Grand County, Utah, within the Cedar Mountain Formation. The type specimen is currently housed at the College of Eastern Utah, although Brigham Young University currently houses the largest collection of Utahraptor fossils.
The type species (and only known species of Utahraptor), Utahraptor ostrommaysorum, was named for the American paleontologist John Ostrom, from Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History, and Chris Mays, of Dinamation International.
Like other dromaeosaurids, Utahraptor had a huge curved claw on the second toe that could grow to 23 cm (almost 9 inches) long. The animal may have grasped its prey with its forelimbs while kicking with its hindlimbs. Recent tests on reconstructions of the smaller species Velociraptor suggest that claws of this type were used for stabbing or suffocating its prey, not slashing into their hide. Up to 6.5 meters (22 feet) long, 2 meters (over 6 feet) tall and 700 kg (1500lbs) in weight, Utahraptor would have been a formidable predator.
It is thought that Utahraptor may be closely related to the much smaller Dromaeosaurus and the giant Mongolian dromaeosaurid Achillobator.
In popular culture
The novel Raptor Red, by Bob Bakker, told the story of a pack of Utahraptor. Another novel, "Raptor" by Paul Zindel, featured Utahraptor, but with fictional characteristics including poison secreting from their claws, explained as a side effect of 65 million years of evolution. On television, Utahraptor was featured in the BBC series Walking with Dinosaurs and later made an appearance in "Walking with Dinosaurs: The Live Experience". Most famously, the "velociraptors" of the Jurassic Park movies actually much more closely resemble Utahraptor in size.
Utahraptor is also one of the three main characters featured in Dinosaur Comics.
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