New giant raptor discovered in South Dakota

November 4, 2015
New giant raptor discovered in South Dakota

A research team led by a University of Kansas alumnus has identified a new giant raptor, the largest specimen ever found with wing feathers.

Named Dakotaraptor, the fossil from the Hell Creek Formation in South Dakota is thought to be about 17 feet long, making it among the largest raptors in the world.

"This new predatory dinosaur also fills the body size gap between smaller theropods and large tyrannosaurs that lived at this time,"  KU Paleontologist and co-author David Burnham said.

Robert DePalma, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History and lead author of the research, led the expedition to South Dakota where the specimen was found. At the time, he was a graduate student studying with former KU paleontology professor and curator Larry Martin, who died in 2014.

"This Cretaceous period would have been lightly built and probably just as agile as the vicious smaller theropods, such as the Velociraptor," De Palma said. He added that the both fossils showed evidence of "quill knobs" where feathers would have been attached to the forearm of the dinosaur.

This also demonstrates that flightlessness evolved several times in this lineage leading to modern birds.

The peer-reviewed research was published Oct. 30 in Paleontological Contributions.

New giant raptor discovered in South Dakota

Explore further: Newly discovered raptor lived alongside T. rex

More information: Robert A. DePalma et al. The first giant raptor (Theropoda: Dromaeosauridae) from the Hell Creek Formation, Paleontological Contributions (2015). DOI: 10.17161/paleo.1808.18764

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5 / 5 (1) Nov 04, 2015
That tells us something about these creatures' relationship with their environment. Running fast for these raptors was an ethereal, almost nirvana-like experience that would have pumped their neural receptors with oodles of dopamine and endorphins. The evolution of feathering on these creatures results in enhancement of the experience, because they could play around with the Bernoulli principle and get some lift to lighten their mass as they ran even faster, and braked even harder, when pursuing and capturing prey. I can see them running for the sheer thrill of it.

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