July 2nd, 2021

Found in the lower Horseshoe Canyon Formation, Atrociraptor marshalli is the only described dromaeosaur species from the formation. Atrociraptor is very closely related to the Dinosaur Park dromaeosaur, Saurornitholestes. Because of this their shed teeth are nearly identical and although teeth found in Edmonton and Grande Prairie are often referred to as Saurornitholestes they more likely belong to an Atrociraptor-like dromaeosaur.

 

Atrociraptor marshalli is unique among dromaeosaurs in having a ‘bulldog’ face. The dimensions of the bones making up its snout are so stout relative to other dromaeosaurs, suggesting it was doing something quite different from its contemporary small theropods.

 

In North America articulated skeletons of small theropods are quite rare. A few years ago this articulated dromaeosaur was discovered by University of Alberta senior technician, Clive Coy. Nicknamed Havoc, UALVP 55700 represents a nearly complete skeleton of Saurornitholestes. Havoc is so well preserved that incredibly delicate bones like the hyoid are present, as well as remnants of keratinous sheaths on its claws.

 

Compared to Atrociraptor and Velociraptor, Saurornitholestes has intermediate snout proportions. Sort of like a Goldilocks “just right” compromise between the two other snouts.

 

Velociraptor is one of the most famous dinosaurs thanks to its staple appearance in the Jurassic Park/World movies. Unlike its onscreen version, however, Velociraptor was small and had a long, shallow snout compared to ‘raptor’ dinosaurs from North America. In Mongolia, skeletons of this small-bodied theropod are much more numerous than North American taxa as well. Of all the specimens of Velociraptor, however, MPC-D 100/982 has the shallowest snout and the most striking profile.

 

And check out Mark Powers presentation on dramaeosaurs live on YouTube tomorrow @ 3pm!

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