The Megaraptor was a dinosaur of the late Cretaceous period whose fragmented fossils were first discovered by Fernando e Novas in 1996 from Patagonia, Argentina. During the early days of its research, the species was initially identified as a raptor from where it derived its name. But further study confirmed that it was not related to the raptors or flying dinosaurs, but belonged to the Deinonychosauria family and Megaraptur genus. These extinct species of the animal kingdom were actually theropod tyrannosauroids. This confusion in identification arose because of its elongated sickle-shaped finger claw that was initially thought to be emerging from the foot like other claw-footed raptors. Apart from their claw, the Megaraptors were considered to be extremely intelligent carnivorous predators of the past ages. Because of its large size, the Megaraptor was thought to be the largest raptor. Later after a comparison of the Megaraptor vs Utahraptor, it was found that the Megaraptor wasn't a raptor at all while the Utahraptor was the largest existing raptor that ever existed on earth.
Curious to know more? Read on to know more exciting Megaraptor facts for kids.
You can also check out about Coellophysis and Australovenator facts here.
The pronunciation of this dinosaur species goes as 'Meg-uh-rap-tur'.
An extinct species of the animal kingdom, the Megaraptor dinosaur was a large theropod tyrannosauroid.
From the study of the fossils discovered by palaeontologist, Fernando e Novas in 1996, the existence of the Megaraptors were estimated to be during the late cretaceous period roughly between 88-91 million years before present between the Turonian and Coniacian ages.
Belonging to the tyrannosauroid family, the fossil remains of these Megaraptors suggest that the last known traces of their life was in the late cretaceous period around 88 million years before the present. Repetitive natural calamities were the major cause of the extinction of this giant dinosaur species.
The fossils of the Megaraptors were discovered from north-western Patagonia in Argentina. During the time of their existence in the late cretaceous period, they were a local of that region.
The fossils discovered from Argentina suggests that these tyrannosauroid species belonging to the therapod genus lived in a habitat comprising of the grass plains, woodlands, shrublands and forest edges. They were terrestrial by nature living in warm and humid tropical climates. Because of their large size, they found comfort in dwelling around open spaces where they could move around freely.
During times of hunting the Megaraptors were found to assemble in groups to chase and catch their prey. Also, the mating season called for looking for suitable partners for breeding.
No information is available about the exact life expectancy these large dinosaurs had.
Detailed information is not available about their process of reproduction. However, the Megaraptors were known to lay eggs and were oviparous.
The Megaraptor had a large head with a large pair of eyes, nostrils and a wide jaw having a razor-sharp set of serrated teeth. While the neck was thin, it broadened towards its shoulders up to the back, tapering towards the tail. The long and thin tail helps in balancing the large body size. The most distinct feature was its sickle-shaped claw arising out of its thumb, which was previously misidentified as a toe claw.
Although little information is available about the exact number of bones this giant raptor had, the most distinctive features of the Megaraptor skeleton are its sickle-shaped claws arising out of its finger, lean yet heavy finger bone, a metatarsal, ulna and strong yet lean bones on its foot. The fossilised 11.8 in (30 cm) long sickle-shaped claw discovered in 1996, was similar to the foot claws of dromaeosaurids and was hence described as a dromaeosaurid species initially.
Not much is known about their ways of communication.
The Latin meaning describes them as the giant thief or a huge robber owing to the large Megaraptor size. They were about 6 ft (1.8 m) tall at their back and 26 ft (8 m) long from head to tail. They were one of the largest theropod species. They were 20 times bigger than humans and around 30 times bigger than a Velociraptor, a theropod dinosaur.
Owing to the strong feet muscles, this bipedal Megaraptor is estimated to be a swift mover. Due to its well balanced body proportion, having a large head and body, tapering towards the tail, it could run as fast as 31 mph (49.8 kph).
The weight of the adult Megaraptor or the Giant Thief was around 2,200 lb (997.9 kg). This enormous weight of this species could be attributed to their large body size with large sickle-like claws on their forefingers.
The adult male and female dinosaurs do not have separate names given to them.
Although a baby raptor had no specific name, it is generally addressed as a hatchling.
The diet of the large Megaraptors consisted entirely of carnivorous species living in that era. They were known to be aggressive hunters, mostly chasing down their prey in packs. Using their sharp sickle-like claws on their thumb these therapod dinosaurs caught hold of their prey, tearing it into pieces to enjoy its meat. Their primary food consisted of smaller dinosaurs and related species like the titanosaurs, hadrosaurs and flesh of other mammals that existed in the late cretaceous period.
Being carnivorous eaters, this dinosaur species has been assumed to have been quite aggressive by nature. As some palaeontologists described them to have extremely strong and wide jaws and very sharp teeth, they could chew off flesh easily. Using its pointy claw, the Megaraptor aggressively hunted in groups, easily killing large mammals and other raptor species of the dinosaur family.
The Megaraptor was considered to be an adult version of the Unenlegia, a bird-like species of dinosaur.
Recent fossil discovery of the Megaraptors has also been found in China that awaits proper research.
A Megaraptor named Marco featured in one of the episodes of Dinosaur Train, a children's animated series.
The first fossil found was the claw of the Megaraptor, excavated from the Portezuelo Formation of Argentina.
The Megaraptor was a theropod dinosaur characterised by a three-toed foot. But it did not have toe claws on its feet. Although it was initially misidentified as a raptor, specifically a dromaeosaur, having sickle-shaped toe claws. However, later the pointy bent claw was identified to be arising out of its forefinger and not from the toes.
Megaraptor isn't a raptor at all, although first presumed to be a raptor or a bird-like theropod dinosaur or a dromaeosaur. A raptor was a flying dinosaur having wings and clawed toes that could easily leap and fly to catch its prey. From the first discovered fossil of Megaraptor, the claw was considered to be attached to its foot but later it was identified to be emerging out from the thumb. So, the Megaraptor is not related to any of the raptor species.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Utahraptor fun facts, or Antetonitrus facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable triceratops skeleton coloring pages.
Second image by ケラトプスユウタ.