Dakotaraptor, much bigger than a Velociraptor, was ‘utterly lethal’

6 Nov 2015

An artist's rendering of the Dakotaraptor via Emily Willoughby

A new, giant, feathered, terrifying raptor has been discovered by paleontologists in the US, which is far too big to fly and has claws that could slice through flesh.

Most people associate raptors with the clever, six-foot Velociraptor killing machines in the Jurassic Park franchise.

However, their varying forms throughout the different prehistoric epochs sees anything from small, dog-sized relations right up to giant equivalents.

It is the latter that was discovered in 2005 in Hell Creek in South Dakota, home to the Tyrannosaurus rex as well as the Triceratops.

One location and three of the five most recognisable dinosaurs seems quite a coincidence – Stegosaurus and Pterodactyl are the missing two.

Measuring 17ft long – making it one of the largest raptors ever discovered – the Dakotaraptor is thought to be just as agile as the smaller velociraptor, featuring quills down its forearm.

“It really was the Ferrari of competitors,” said Robert DePalma, head of the research team that discovered the fossils and author of the paper they have just produced on the find.

“It could run very fast, it could jump incredibly well, it was agile and it had essentially grappling hooks on the front and rear limbs. These claws could grab on to anything and just slice them to bits. It was utterly lethal.”

De Palma suggests that the Dakotaraptor could more than handle a juvenile T. rex, making scientists completely rethink the food chain and ecology of the entire region.

“It’s like getting all the facts we’ve ever had about the predator-prey relationships in Hell Creek and shaking them all up in a bag,” he said.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic