Every dinosaur enthusiast knows of Raptors, but have you heard of the Rapator? The Rapator ornitholestoides was an Australian native that lived during the Late/Upper Cretaceous period. Very little info has been gathered about this dinosaur. What is known to us is based on the recovery of a single opalized left finger bone from Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, Australia.
The lack of specimens led to a lot of confusion when it came to describing the Rapator. Paleontologists were unsure which genus the dinosaur belonged to. At first, it was thought to be of the same size as a North American dinosaur (Ornitholestes). Following the discovery of another similar species (Australovenator), scientists concluded that the Rapator belonged to the same genus. This data is still being examined.
The pronunciation of Rapator goes like 'Ra-pa-tor Orr-nith-o-less-toy-dees'.
Rapator is a type of megaraptoran theropod belonging to the family of Neovenatoridae. Its type species is referred to as Rapator ornitholestoides (Von Huene, 1932). However, palaeontologists consider this genus as a nomen dubium, which translates to an unknown or doubtful name. Since their current classification is largely based on a single bone, palaeontologists feel that they still haven't reached a correct description of the species. The discovery of Australovenator showed that it had a similar metacarpal like the Rapator. This little similarity indicated that the Rapator was probably a megaraptoran. However, it was found that the fossil formations of these two genera are chronologically separated by about 10 million years, indicating that they might not be that similar.
Rapators are believed to have roamed the earth between 96-105 million years ago. This period in history was part of the Late/Upper Cretaceous Epoch's Early/Lower Cenomanian stage.
It is estimated the Rapator species went extinct approximately 93.5 million years ago (Late Cretaceous period). The specific reason why the species faced extinction is unknown.
These were land-dwelling or terrestrial dinosaurs.
The Rapator specimen was discovered in Wollaston, Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, Australia. Based on the discovery, the Rapator habitat was Cenomanian estuary/bay claystone present in the Griman Creek Formation.
The Rapator genus was a solitary species.
The Rapator species' lifespan has yet to be determined.
Rapators were oviparous, which means that they reproduced by laying eggs. There is no information available about their mating habits, nesting style, or other reproductive details.
Rapator ornitholestoides (Von Huene, 1932) fossil was found in Australia, a country where not many dinosaurs have been recovered. This is attributed to its harsh landscape, which results in the discovery of low-quality dinosaur remains. Some paleontologists believe the Rapator was a robust bird-like ornitholestid. It could have been as large as an Allosaurus, but the relationship between these two genera has yet to be established. The species could have had feathers and belonged to the genus Alvarezsauria.
In 1932, Friedrich von Huene discovered a single left finger bone belonging to the Rapator. This little specimen served as the foundation for the species' physical description. With a length of 2.8 in (7 cm), the hand bone had only one cotyle on the upper end, a characteristic of metacarpal morphology.
The finger bone was remarkably similar to that found in Ornitholestes hermani, a dinosaur from North America. The metacarpal bone of the Rapator had an elongated posteromedial process present in Ornitholestes hermani. However, more studies revealed subtle differences between the metacarpal bone. The Rapator's hand bone was larger and broader in length, it was sturdier and had a prominently developed posteromedial process. These differences separated these two genera or groups.
After the discovery of the Australovenator, a new confusion arose regarding the taxonomy of the Rapator. The finger bone of the Australovenator was quite similar to the Rapator bone. This similarity led paleontologists to assume that both the Australovenator and Rapator belonged to the same genus. However, there is a problem in this assumption as both groups have a small fossil size to derive an adequate conclusion. Right now it is believed that they belong to a similar theropod. But having lived almost 10 million years apart, they are unlikely to have the same bone structure.
The complete bone structure is unknown. So far, only the theropod's finger bone has been discovered.
Paleontologists are yet to discover the way the Rapator communicated with its own and other species.
The Rapator size was estimated to be around 30 ft (9.1 m) long. This size estimate has been made on the assumption that the Rapator grew as big as the Australovenator. It was bigger than Ornitholestes hermani, a North American counterpart, who was estimated to be around 6.6 ft (2 m) long.
Aside from the fact that the Rapator is an actively mobile species, little is known about their speed and agility.
The Rapator species' body weight has yet to be determined.
The two sexes of the species are referred to as Rapator.
A Rapator baby is known as a hatchling or nestling.
This genus was a carnivorous theropod. The Rapator diet is unknown.
Although there is no clear evidence of their aggression level, it is likely that the Rapator was aggressive. The Rapator species meaning translates to 'thief' or 'plunderer' and it was also a carnivore. Such species of dinosaurs were usually aggressive.
Friedrich von Huene who named the Rapator species was a German paleontologist.
BMNH R3718, a 3D body fossil, is the Rapator's type specimen.
The type specimen- BMNH R3718 is displayed at the Natural History Museum of London in the United Kingdom.
A study of the metacarpals belonging to Australovenator and Rapator was conducted by Dr. Matt White.
Rapator ornitholestoides' (Von Huene, 1932) name is actually considered a spelling mistake. As the word 'Rapator' is not part of Classical Latin, even was rarely used in Medieval Latin. Von Huene may have been referring to 'Raptare', which in Latin means 'to plunder'. Thus, it should have been Raptor which translates to 'thief'. The theropod species type was named so because the finger bone fossil remains resembled that of Ornitholestes, a North American dinosaur. The meaning of Ornitholestoides is 'Ornitholestes-like'.
The fossil remains of the Rapator had turned into opal i.e. opalized. In 1909, the fossil was discovered by Tullie Cornthwaite Wollaston, an opal dealer. Rapator is considered from the same genus as the Walgettosuchus, known from its opalized vertebra. Kakuru is another Australian dinosaur whose bone was opalized.
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 Tupandactylus fun facts, or Thalassomedon fun facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable dinosaurs riding a motorcycle coloring pages.
Main image by Cameron Spahn
Second image by Slate Weasel