Variraptor

Variraptor (/ˈværɪræptər/ VARR-i-rap-tor; "Var thief") is a genus of coelurosaurian theropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of France.

Variraptor
Temporal range: Late Cretaceous, 70 Ma
Variraptor mechinorum 2
Fossils in Brussels
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Theropoda
Family: Dromaeosauridae
Genus: Variraptor
Le Loeuff & Buffetaut, 1998
Species:
V. mechinorum
Binomial name
Variraptor mechinorum
Le Loeuff & Buffetaut, 1998

Discovery

Variraptor mechinorum1
Possible Variraptor bones

Between 1992 and 1995 amateur paleontologists Patrick Méchin and Annie Méchin-Salessy uncovered the remains of a small theropod in the Grès à Reptiles Formation (Campanian-Maastrichtian) at La Bastide Neuve, near Fox-Amphoux. The first finds were in 1992 assigned to the dubious theropod genus Elopteryx.[1] A second article, in 1997, concluded they represented a new species.[2] In 1998 this was named by Jean Le Loeuff and Eric Buffetaut as the type species Variraptor mechinorum. The generic name is derived from Latin Varus, referring to the Var River in the Alpes-Maritimes department in the Provence region of southern France, and raptor meaning "thief". The specific name honours the Méchin couple.[3]

The genus is based on three type specimens: a posterior dorsal vertebra (MDE-D168), a sacrum (MDE-D169) with five fused vertebrae, and an ilium (CM-645). The specimens are part of the collection of the Musée des Dinosaures d'Espéraza and the private Collection Méchin.

Additional referred material includes a right humerus (MDE-D158) with a deltopectoral crest more developed than in any other known theropod, suggesting a strong raptorial function for the forearm. Other attributed bones include a femur and various vertebrae.

Description

Variraptor SIZE
Scale comparison to a human

The incomplete remains have dromaeosaurid features in the shape of the vertebrae and the humerus, with some resemblances to Deinonychus. An adult animal may have been slightly smaller than Deinonychus at around two meters (6.5 ft) long. However, the identity of the referred fossils has become uncertain.

Classification

In 2000 Ronan Allain and Philippe Taquet named a second small theropod from the same layers: Pyroraptor. They also claimed that Variraptor was a nomen dubium because the type lacked any single diagnostic trait.[4]

In 2009 Buffetaut and Phomphen Chanthasit defended the validity of Variraptor, arguing the type had a unique combination of traits. The lack of overlapping parts would make it impossible to establish whether Pyroraptor was a junior subjective synonym but the presence of two different types of ulna in the southern French dromaeosaurid material would indicate two separate species.[5]

Le Loeuff and Buffetaut described Variraptor as a maniraptoran theropod, a member of the Dromaeosauridae, and this has been commonly accepted. However, in 2000 Oliver Rauhut was doubtful, assigning it to the more inclusive Coelurosauria.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ Le Loeuff, J., Buffetaut, E., Mechin, P., Mechin-Salessy, A., 1992, "The first record of dromaeosaurid dinosaurs (Saurischia, Theropoda) in the Maastrichtian of southern Europe: palaeobiogeographical implications", Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France 163: 337–343
  2. ^ Eric Buffetaut, Jean Le Loeuff, Lionel Cavin, Sylvain Duffaud, Emmanuel Gheerbrant, Yves Laurent, Michel Martin, Jean-Claude Rage, Haiyan Tong & Denis Vasse, 1997, "Les vertébrés continentaux du Crétacé supérieur du Sud de la France: un aperçu sur des découvertes récentes", Geobios 30 Supplement 1, 1997: 101-108
  3. ^ Le Loeuff, Jean, Buffetaut, Eric (1999) "A new dromaeosaurid theropod from the Upper Cretaceous of Southern France". Oryctos 1, 105-112
  4. ^ Allain, R. and Taquet, P., 2000, "A new genus of Dromaeosauridae (Dinosauria, Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous of France", Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 20(2), 404-407
  5. ^ *Chanthasit, P., and Buffetaut, E., 2009, "New data on the Dromaeosauridae (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Late Cretaceous of southern France", Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France 180(2):145-154
  6. ^ Rauhut, 2000, The interrelationships and evolution of basal theropods (Dinosauria, Saurischia). PhD dissertation, University of Bristol, Bristol. 583 pp *Allain and Taquet, 2000, "A new genus of Dromaeosauridae (Dinosauria, Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous of France", Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 20(2), 404-407
Dromaeosaurinae

Dromaeosaurinae is a subfamily of Dromaeosauridae. Most dromaeosaurines lived in what is now the United States and Canada, as well as Mongolia, and possibly Denmark as well. Isolated teeth that may belong to African dromaeosaurines have also been discovered in Ethiopia. These teeth date to the Tithonian stage, of the Late Jurassic Period.All North American and Asian dromaeosaurine dinosaurs from the Late Cretaceous were generally small, no more than 1.8 metres (5.9 ft) long, in Dromaeosaurus and Adasaurus. However, among the dromaeosaurines were the largest dromaeosaurs ever; Dakotaraptor was ~5.5 metres (18 ft) long, Achillobator 6 metres (20 ft), and Utahraptor up to ~7 metres (23 ft).

Eudromaeosauria

Eudromaeosauria ("true dromaeosaurs") is a subgroup of terrestrial dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaurs. They were relatively large-bodied, feathered hypercarnivores (with diets consisting almost entirely of other terrestrial vertebrates) that flourished in the Cretaceous Period.

Eudromaeosaur fossils are known almost exclusively from the northern hemisphere. They first appeared in the early Cretaceous Period (early Aptian stage, about 124 million years ago) and survived until the end of the Cretaceous (Maastrichtian stage, 66 Ma). The earliest known definitive eudromaeosaur is the dromaeosaurine Utahraptor ostrommaysorum, from the Cedar Mountain Formation, dated to 124 million years ago. However, the earlier (143-million-year-old) fossils such as those of Nuthetes destructor and several indeterminate teeth dating to the Kimmeridgian stage may represent eudromaeosaurs.

Graciliraptor

Graciliraptor (meaning "graceful thief") is a genus of theropod dinosaur from the early Cretaceous Period. It is a microraptorine dromaeosaurid.

The type species Graciliraptor lujiatunensis was first named and described in 2004 by Xu Xing and Wang Xiaoling. The generic name is derived from Latin gracilis and raptor. The specific name refers to the village Lujiatun where the fossil site is located. Its fossil, holotype IVPP V 13474, was found in Beipiao, Liaoning Province, China.

Gres de Saint-Chinian

The Gres de Saint-Chinian is a geological formation in Aude and Hérault, France whose strata date back to the Late Cretaceous. Dinosaur remains are among the fossils that have been recovered from the formation.

Halszkaraptorinae

Halszkaraptorinae is a basal ("primitive") subfamily of Dromaeosauridae that includes the enigmatic genera Halszkaraptor, Mahakala, and Hulsanpes. A comparison of the fossils of Halszkaraptor with the bones of extant crocodilians and aquatic birds revealed evidence of a semiaquatic lifestyle. The group is named after Polish paleontologist Halszka Osmólska.

Hulsanpes

Hulsanpes is a genus of dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur from Mongolia that lived during the Late Cretaceous.

Hypselosaurus

Hypselosaurus (meaning 'highest lizard', from Greek ὑψηλός meaning 'high' or 'lofty' and σαυρος meaning 'lizard') was a dubious titanosaurian sauropod that lived in southern France during the Late Cretaceous, approximately 70 million years ago in the early Maastrichtian. Hypselosaurus was first described in 1846, but was not formally named until 1869, when Phillip Matheron named it under the binomial Hypselosaurus priscus. The holotype specimen includes a partial hindlimb and a pair of caudal vertebrae, and two eggshell fragments were found alongside these bones. Because of the proximity of these eggshells to the fossil remains, many later authors, including Matheron and Paul Gervais, have assigned several eggs from the same region of France all to Hypselosaurus, although the variation and differences between these eggs suggest that they do not all belong to the same taxon. Hypselosaurus has been found in the same formation as the dromaeosaurids Variraptor and Pyroraptor, the ornithopod Rhabdodon, and the ankylosaurian Rhodanosaurus, as well as indeterminate bones from other groups.

Itemirus

Itemirus is a genus of theropod dinosaur from the Turonian age of the Late Cretaceous period of Uzbekistan.

Linheraptor

Linheraptor is a genus of dromaeosaurid dinosaur which lived in what is now China in the Late Cretaceous. It was named by Xu Xing and colleagues in 2010, and contains the species Linheraptor exquisitus. This bird-like dinosaur was less than 2 m (6.5 ft) long and was found in Inner Mongolia. It is known from a single, nearly complete skeleton.

Luanchuanraptor

Luanchuanraptor (meaning "Luanchuan thief") is a genus of dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of China. It is based on a partial skeleton from the Qiupa Formation in Luanchuan, Henan. A medium-sized dromaeosaurid, it is the first Asian dromaeosaurid described from outside the Gobi Desert or northeastern China. The fossil material is cataloged as 4HIII-0100 in the Henan Geological Museum and includes four teeth, one frontal, a neck vertebra, one or two back vertebrae, seventeen tail vertebrae, ribs, chevrons, a humerus (upper arm bone), claw and finger bones, partial shoulder and pelvic girdles, and other fragmentary bones from a moderately sized dromaeosaurid. The type species is L. henanensis, described by Lü et al. in 2007.

Nuthetes

Nuthetes is the name given to a dubious, possibly dromaeosaurid, genus of theropod dinosaur, known only from fossil teeth and jaw fragments found in rocks of the middle Berriasian (Early Cretaceous) age in the Cherty Freshwater Member of the Lulworth Formation in England. As a dromaeosaurid Nuthetes would have been a small predator, about two metres long.

Pamparaptor

Pamparaptor is an extinct genus of carnivorous deinonychosaur from the late Cretaceous period. It is a basal dromaeosaurid dinosaur with troodontid-like pes which lived during the late Cretaceous period (Turonian to Coniacian stage) in what is now Neuquén province, Patagonia, Argentina. It is known from the holotype MUCPv-1163, an articulated and nearly complete left foot.

The specimen recovered from the Portezuelo Formation (Río Neuquén Subgroup) of Neuquén Group. It was initially considered to be a juvenile specimen of another dromaeosaurid species, Neuquenraptor argentinus. However, it was later re-interpreted as a new genus and named Pamparaptor by Juan D. Porfiri, Jorge O. Calvo and Domenica dos Santos in 2011 and the type species is Pamparaptor micros. The generic name honors Indian Pampas people who lived in central Argentina while "raptor" (robber in Latin). The specific name (micros, meaning "small") refers to the specimen's size (estimated at 0.5 to 0.7 metres (1.6 to 2.3 ft) in length).

Pyroraptor

Pyroraptor (meaning "fire thief") is a genus of dromaeosaurid dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of what is now southern France, it lived during the late Campanian and early Maastrichtian stages, approximately 70.6 million years ago. It is known from a single partial specimen that was found in Provence in 1992. The animal was named Pyroraptor olympius by Allain and Taquet in 2000.

Saurornitholestinae

Saurornitholestinae is a subfamily of dromaeosaurid dinosaurs. The saurornitholestines currently include three monotypic genera: Atrociraptor marshalli, Bambiraptor feinbergorum, and Saurornitholestes langstoni. All are medium-sized dromaeosaurs from the Late Cretaceous of western North America. The group was originally recognized by Longrich and Currie as the sister taxon to a clade formed by the Dromaeosaurinae and Velociraptorinae. However, not all phylogenetic analyses recover this group.

Shanag

Shanag is a genus of dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous Period of Mongolia.

The type species of Shanag is S. ashile. It was named and described by Alan Turner, Sunny Hai-Ching Hwang and Mark Norell in 2007. The generic name refers to the black-hatted dancers in the Buddhist Cham dance. The specific name refers to the Ashile Formation, the old name for the layers where Shanag was found, used by Henry Fairfield Osborn.The holotype of Shanag, IGM 100/1119, was discovered in the Öösh Formation, the stratification of which is uncertain but probably dating to the Berriasian-Barremian. Shanag bears a strong resemblance to basal Chinese dromaeosaurids such as Microraptor and Sinornithosaurus, suggesting a close similarity between the fauna of the Öösh deposits, dated tentatively to 130 million years ago, and the Jehol Biota of China (such as the animals found in the roughly contemporary Yixian Formation), during the Early Cretaceous. The holotype specimen, about six centimetres long, is composed of an associated uncompressed upper and lower jaw fragment, containing a nearly complete right maxilla with teeth, a partial right dentary with teeth and an attached partial splenial.Shanag was a small predator. In 2010 Gregory S. Paul estimated its length at 1.5 metres, the weight at five kilogrammes. Shanag shows a mixture of dromaeosaurid, troodontid and basal avialan traits.Turner et alii assigned Shanag to the Dromaeosauridae. Their cladistic analysis indicated that it was a basal dromaeosaurid but higher in the tree than the Unenlagiinae. Later analyses recovered it in the Microraptorinae.

Unenlagiinae

Unenlagiinae is a subfamily of dromaeosaurid theropods. Unenlagiines are known from South America and Antarctica.

Unquillosaurus

Unquillosaurus (meaning "Unquillo river lizard") is a genus of maniraptoran dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Period, discovered in Argentina. Known only from a single fossilized pubis (a pelvic bone), its total body length may have reached 2 to 3 metres (6.6 to 9.8 ft).

Yurgovuchia

Yurgovuchia is an extinct genus of dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur known from the Early Cretaceous (probably Barremian stage) of Utah. It contains a single species, Yurgovuchia doellingi. According to a phylogenetic analysis performed by its describers, it represents an advanced dromaeosaurine, closely related to Achillobator, Dromaeosaurus and Utahraptor.

Zhongjianosaurus

Zhongjianosaurus is a genus of dromaeosaurid belonging to the Microraptoria. Believed to hail from the Yixian Formation, specifically the middle of the Jehol Biota, it is the smallest known microraptorine thus far discovered and one of the smallest non-avian theropod dinosaurs.

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