Traces from China point to raptors - Triops Galaxy

Palaeontology: Fossil traces from China point to raptors

Since the film Jurassic Park, velociraptors have probably become the best-known dinosaurs, although their actual size was more like that of a turkey, albeit a rather aggressive one. However, new findings from China suggest that they could have been much larger than previously thought.

Each impression shows only two toes

The species called Fujianipus, discovered by Scott Persons and his team from the College of Charleston, apparently reached a length of at least five metres, making it one of the largest known raptors. At the Longxiang excavation site in south-east China, a total of five footprints were found that were 36 centimetres in diameter. Based on this, the researchers estimated the size of the animal. It is assumed that it was at least 1.8 metres tall when standing upright, putting it at eye level with many adult humans.

These Fujianipus lived in East Asia around 96 million years ago and shared their habitat with the equally carnivorous Allosauroidea, which were twice as large but appeared to be less agile. Other large raptors, such as the Utahraptor and the Dakotaraptor from North America, reached similar lengths of five to six metres. They were later rivalled by the even larger and faster tyrannosaurs.

Although no bones have been preserved, the researchers are certain that these tracks are those of a raptor: Each imprint shows only two toes, which is typical for these dinosaurs. The third toe was always spread upwards to protect the characteristic, conspicuously enlarged and sickle-like claw from wear and tear. This claw was either used as a weapon when hunting or helped the animal to hold on to its prey.

Sladjan Lazic

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