Reconstruction of the roughly human-sized Achillobator giganticus, from here.

Belongs within: Maniraptora.

The Dromaeosauridae included some of the most hypercarnivorous of all maniraptoran coelurosaurs, including such famed taxa as Deinonychus antirrhopus and Velociraptor mongoliensis. They varied in size from members of the genus Utahraptor, estimated to be well over five metres in length, to species of Microraptor with lengths less than one metre (among the smallest known non-avian dinosaurs). The dromaeosaurs are most famous for the development of a large hyperextendable sickle claw on digit II of the foot, most commonly presumed to have played some part in the subduing and killing of prey animals. Well-preserved specimens of dromaeosaurids (particularly of Microraptor species) have demonstrated the presence of extensive feather covering; in Microraptor, elongate feathers were present on the legs as well as on the arms, and may have served an aerodynamic function.

The majority of dromaeosaurid species are known from the Cretaceous of Eurasia and North America. However, the family also includes a basal clade of Unenlagia and related taxa from South America.

Characters (from Norell & Makovicky 2004): Frontals short, T-shaped, with sinusoidal edge demarcating rostral boundary of supratemporal fenestra; squamosal with caudolateral overhanging shelf; quadrate bearing lateral process contacting quadratojugal dorsally above enlarged quadrate foramen; dorsal vertebrae bearing raised, stalklike parapophyses; digit II modified, raptorial; caudal vertebrae with chevrons and prezygapophyses elongate, spanning several vertebrae; coracoid bearing subglenoid fossa.

<==Dromaeosauridae [Dromaeosaurinae, Velociraptorinae]
    |--Mahakala GC13
    `--+--+--Austroraptor GC13
       |  |--Neuquenraptor argentinus GC13, XC09
       |  |--Buitreraptor Makovicky 2005 GC13, D07
       |  |    `--B. gonzalezorum HH09
       |  `--Unenlagia Novas & Puerta 1997 GC13, NM04
       |       |--U. comahuensis Novas & Puerta 1997 NM04
       |       `--U. paynemili CG13
       `--+--Shanag GC13
          `--+--+--Graciliraptor Xu & Wang 2004 GC13, D07
             |  |    `--G. lujiatunensis D07
             |  `--+--Sinornithosaurus Xu, Wang & Wu 1999 GC13, NM04
             |     |    |--S. haoiana D07
             |     |    `--S. millenii Xu, Wang & Wu 1999 NM04
             |     `--Microraptor Xu, Zhou & Wang 2000 GC13, NM04
             |          |--M. gui Xu, Zhou et al. 2003 NM04
             |          `--M. zhaoianus Xu, Zhou & Wang 2000 NM04
             `--+--Tsaagan mangas GC13, XT07
                `--+--+--Tianyuraptor GC13
                   |  `--Bambiraptor Burnham, Derstler et al. 2000 GC13, NM04
                   |       `--B. feinbergorum Burnham, Derstler et al. 2000 NM04
                   `--+--Adasaurus Barsbold 1983 HH09, NM04
                      |    `--A. mongoliensis Barsbold 1983 NM04
                      `--+--Velociraptor Osborn 1924 GC13, NM04
                         |    `--V. mongoliensis Osborn 1924 NM04
                         `--+--Saurornitholestes Sues 1978 GC13, NM04
                            |    `--S. langstoni Sues 1978 NM04 [=Velociraptor langstoni P88]
                            `--+--Deinonychus Ostrom 1969 HH09, NM04
                               |    `-*D. antirrhopus Ostrom 1969 O69 [=Velociraptor antirrhopus P88]
                               `--+--Atrociraptor marshalli HH09
                                  `--+--Achillobator Perle, Norell & Clark 1999 HH09, NM04
                                     |    `--A. giganticus Perle, Norell & Clark 1999 NM04
                                     `--+--Dromaeosaurus Matthew & Brown 1922 GC13, NM04
                                        |    |--D. albertensis Matthew & Brown 1922 NM04
                                        |    `--D. gracilis (Marsh 1888) (n. d.) [=Coelurus gracilis] O69
                                        `--Utahraptor Kirkland, Burge & Gaston 1993 GC13, NM04
                                             |--U. ostrommaysi Kirkland, Burge & Gaston 1993 NM04
                                             `--U. spielbergi D07

Dromaeosauridae incertae sedis:
  Pyroraptor Allain & Taquet 2000 NM04
    `--P. olympius Allain & Taquet 2000 NM04
  Variraptor Le Loeuff & Buffetaut 1998 NM04
    `--V. mechinorum Le Loeuff & Buffetaut 1998 NM04
  Hulsanpes Osmólska 1982 NM04
    `--H. perlei Osmólska 1982 NM04
  Phaedrolosaurus ilikensis Dong 1973 (n. d.) P88
  Euronychodon Antunes & Sigogneau-Russell 1991 NM04
    |--E. asiaticus Nessov 1995 NM04
    `--E. portucalensis Antunes & Sigogneau-Russell 1991 NM04
  Ornithodesmus Seeley 1887 NM04, W91
    `--*O. cluniculus Seeley 1887 W91
  Unquillosaurus Powell 1979 NM04
    `--U. ceibalii Powell 1979 NM04
  Palaeopteryx thomsoni Jensen 1981 (n. d.) NM04

*Type species of generic name indicated


[D07] Dixon, D. 2007. The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures. Hermes House: London.

[GC13] Godefroit, P., A. Cau, Hu D.-Y., F. Escuillié, Wu W. & G. Dyke. 2013. A Jurassic avialan dinosaur from China resolves the early phylogenetic history of birds. Nature 498: 359–362.

[HMC04] Holtz, T. R., Jr, R. E. Molnar & P. J. Currie. 2004. Basal Tetanurae. In: Weishampel, D. B., P. Dodson & H. Osmólska (eds) The Dinosauria 2nd ed. pp. 71–110. University of California Press: Berkeley.

[HH09] Hu, D., L. Hou, L. Zhang & X. Xu. 2009. A pre-Archaeopteryx troodontid theropod from China with long feathers on the metatarsus. Nature 461: 640–643.

[NM04] Norell, M. A., & P. J. Makovicky. 2004. Dromaeosauridae. In: Weishampel, D. B., P. Dodson & H. Osmólska (eds) The Dinosauria 2nd ed. pp. 196–209. University of California Press: Berkeley.

[O69] Ostrom, J. H. 1969. Osteology of Deinonychus antirrhopus, an unusual theropod from the Lower Cretaceous of Montana. Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 30: 1–165.

[P88] Paul, G. S. 1988. Predatory Dinosaurs of the World: A Complete Illustrated Guide. Simon & Schuster: New York.

[W91] Wellnhofer, P. 1991. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Pterosaurs.  Salamander Books: London (reprinted 2000. In: Norman, D., & P. Wellnhofer. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs. Salamander Books).

[XC09] Xu, X., J. M. Clark, J. Mo, J. Choiniere, C. A. Forster, G. M. Erickson, D. W. E. Hone, C. Sullivan, D. A. Eberth, S. Nesbitt, Q. Zhao, R. Hernandez, C.-K. Jia, F.-L. Han & Y. Guo. 2009. A Jurassic ceratosaur from China helps clarify avian digital homologies. Nature 459: 940–944.

[XT07] Xu, X., Q. Tan, J. Wang, X. Zhao & L. Tan. 2007. A gigantic bird-like dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of China. Nature 447: 844–847.

Last updated: 3 July 2018.

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