Fun Unenlagia Facts For Kids

Joan Agie
Oct 20, 2022 By Joan Agie
Originally Published on Oct 04, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Read these fascinating amazing Unenlagia facts for kids that you are sure to love
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.7 Min

The term Unenlagia meaning half-bird belongs to the genus of Dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur. It lived during the Late Cretaceous period in present-day Patagonia. They have two species; Unenlagia comahuensis described by Novas and Puerta in 1997 and the Unenlagia paynemili described by Calvo in 2004.

Their fossil remains were found in the Neuquen province of Argentina in the Sierra del Portezuelo. Fernando Emilio Novas and Pablo Puerta named the species Unenlagia comahuensis.

The generic name is taken from Mapuche which is a group of indigenous inhabitants in Argentina. The term Unum means bird and llag mean half.

The specific name is kept after the place where the fossil remains were found, Comahue. The holotype of this specimen was discovered in the Portezuelo formation and the fossil remains consisted of a partial skeleton lacking the skull but including vertebrae, a sacrum, ribs, chevrons, a scapula, a humerus, a partial pelvis, a femur, and a tibia.

Near Lago Barreales in 2002, the second specimen was discovered in 2003 and in 2004 it was named and described by Calvo, Porfiri, and Kellner as a second species under the Unenlagia. The specific name paynemili honors Maximino Paynemil, the chief of the Paynemil community.

The holotype of this specimen had fossil remains of a partial skeleton consisting of a humerus, a claw, a partial ilium, a phalanx, and vertebrae.

Scroll down to read about the Unenlagia's life. For more relevant content, read facts about Caviramus and Tupuxuara.

Unenlagia Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Unenlagia'?

The name of this dinosaur species should be pronounced as oon-en-lahg-ee-ah.

What type of dinosaur was an Unenlagia?

The Unenlagia Theropoda dinosaur had bird-like features and flapping wings and belongs to the genus of Dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur. It lived during the Late Cretaceous in present-day Patagonia. The Unenlagia has been assigned two species under it: Unenlagia comahuensis and Unenlagia paynemili.

In which geological period did the Unenlagia roam the earth?

The Unenlagia dinosaur-bird lived during the Late Cretaceous period in present-day Patagonia, South America.

When did the Unenlagia become extinct?

Dinosaurs, in general, went extinct almost 65 million years ago, that is, at the end of the Cretaceous period, after living on the earth for about 165 million years. But this species existed in the Late Cretaceous period which was 94-86 million years ago.

Where did an Unenlagia live?

This dinosaur-bird fed on herbivorous dinosaurs, which means they habituated areas that were near nature. Terrestrial habitats with moderate temperature and dense vegetation were the perfect places to inhabit for the bird-like dinosaur's nature.

What was an Unenlagia's habitat?

The Unenlagia origins were found in present-day South America, even though present-day geographical locations of the world are quite different now than during the time of the dinosaurs. They like to be surrounded by nature.

Who did an Unenlagia live with?

There is no information as of now on whether these theropod bird-like species stayed in groups or they stayed alone. But if assumed, small dinosaurs like this tend to stay in flocks to protect themselves from predators and also to hunt easily.

How long did an Unenlagia live?

The Unenlagia meaning half-bird is still a species that hasn't been discovered fully and till the whole origin is found, nothing can be speculated or proved.

How did they reproduce?

Theropods, like other reptiles, mated with each other during the breeding season and in the case of this breed, females laid eggs. The eggs hatch after a certain time, and newborn dinosaurs come out. The adults took care of the newborns till they could move with their parents or go along with their new family.

Unenlagia Fun Facts

What did an Unenlagia look like?

The length of the body of the Unenlagia birds has been disputed, as only the length of the leg is known and this made researchers like Novas, Puerta, and Calvo confused on whether the rest should be estimated and the Unenlagia birds should be assumed to be low-slung like Dromaeosauridae or to be like the long-legged basal birds.

The estimation of the length and weight have varied until Thomas Holtz estimated Unenlagia and gave the proportions. The estimation of the head also changed as it was stated that they evolved to an elongated shape known from the later discovered related genera like the Buitreraptor and Austroraptor from a shorter snout-shaped condition.

The Unenlagia comahuensis origins were found and the fossils that were excavated were a partial skeleton lacking the skull but including vertebrae, a sacrum, ribs, chevrons, a scapula, a humerus, a partial pelvis, a femur, and a tibia.

There is still confusion about whether their flapping scapula on the shoulder helps them to ascend in flight or they are not flying dinosaurs like their ancestors Archaeopteryx.

The Archaeopteryx was the first dinosaur-bird that evolved to ever be found that existed 150 million years ago.

The second specimen origins had a partial skeleton consisting of a humerus, two pubes, a claw, a partial ilium, a phalanx, and vertebrae. All this directs it towards the fact that they were flying birds who had evolved from their ancestors or might have lost the power of flight like their ancestors like the Archaeopteryx.

Close view of the skeleton structure of the dinosaur

How many bones did an Unenlagia have?

There isn't specific information about their bones but by the remains that have been found, it can be assumed that it was a flying dinosaur. Until there are more excavations, it can't be reported.

How did they communicate?

There is no specific mention of how they communicated, but they didn't have modern means of communication. Like any other animal, dinosaurs also communicated by making sounds and using their body language.

These birds might have included hoots and hollers to communicate as well. Having wings also helped these flying dinosaurs and they could use their wings to make a flapping sound to communicate.

How big was an Unenlagia?

The Unenlagia size was about 90 in (2.3 m), making it about two times bigger than the Martial eagle, which is 31-38 in (78.7-96.5 cm) long.

How fast could an Unenlagia move?

Their shoulder vertebrae enabled them to speedy flapping if in case they could engage in flight. As it is not yet proved if they could fly, how fast they moved can't be estimated or assumed, but being bipedal predators, they would have had much more speed than smaller herbivores.

How much did an Unenlagia weigh?

The Unenlagia weight is about 20-50 lb (9.1-22.7 kg), which makes this evolved species about five times heavier than the harrier hawk which weighs 1.3-2.4 lb (0.6-1.1 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name for the male or female dinosaurs of this species and are commonly known as Unenlagia, half-bird, Unenlagia comahuensis, and Unenlagia paynemili.

What would you call a baby Unenlagia?

The newborn dinosaur was known as hatchling or nestling. This was common for most dinosaur species. There is no specific information on the names of newborns for this dinosaur-bird as of now.

What did they eat?

This flying Theropoda dinosaur was a carnivore and therefore fed on the meat of the herbivorous dinosaurs smaller in size than the dinosaur-bird themselves.

How aggressive were they?

Based on research, dinosaurs are divided into two groups where sauropods are herbivores and don't attack each other or other dinosaurs while the theropods were meat-eaters and attacked each other and the other dinosaurs as well.

Even though these theropods were meat-eaters they were quite small in size, and might not have been as aggressive as other dinosaur birds like Pterodactyl.

Did you know...

Novas and Puerta in the original specimen script had acknowledged this species to be a sister taxon of the bird, which would have made it a basal member of the Avialae sensu Gauthier.

What does the name 'Unenlagia' mean?

The term Unenlagia meaning half-bird is taken from the Latinized version of the Mapudungun which is an Araucanian language related to Huilliche spoken in south-central Chile and West-central Argentina by the Mapuche people.

How old are the Unenlagia fossils?

The fossil remains of this Theropoda species were found in the Neuquen province of Argentina in the Sierra del Portezuelo in 1997 and then Near Lago Barreales in 2002, the second specimen was discovered in 2003 and in 2004 it was named and described by Calvo, Porfiri, and Kellner as a second species under the Unenlagia.

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 Prosaurolophus interesting facts or Metriorhynchus facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Unenlagia coloring pages.

Main image by Skye M

Second image by Eva K.

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Written by Joan Agie

Bachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

Joan Agie picture

Joan AgieBachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.

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