Bradycneme is a genus of theropod dinosaur from the early Maastrichtian-age Upper Cretaceous Sânpetru Formation of the Haţeg Basin, Transylvania, Romania. It is known only from a partial right lower leg (specimen BMNH A1588), which its original describers believed came from a giant owl.


Harrison and Walker described two "bradycnemids" from Romania in 1975: B. draculae and Heptasteornis andrewsi. These specimens had initially been assigned to the supposed pelecaniform bird Elopteryx nopcsai. Bradycneme means "ponderous leg", from Ancient Greek bradys (βραδύς) "slow, ponderous" + kneme (κνήμη) "leg", as the holotype, BMNH A1588, a 37.8 millimetres wide distal tibiotarsus found by Maud Eleanora Seeley, would be very stout if the animal had been an owl, indicating a body height of two metres.[1] The specific name draculae is derived from Romanian dracul, "the dragon" and refers to Dracula.[1]

Starting with Pierce Brodkorb,[2] the specimens were soon compared to small theropod dinosaurs. These three genera Bradycneme, Elopteryx and Heptasteornis have been synonymized, split, and reassessed numerous times since then[3] in part because of the fragmentary nature of the remains; there exist three proximal femora and three distal tibiotarsi, which may belong to one, two or three species. Usually, at least one of them is considered to be a troodontid.

In the most recent assessments, Bradycneme and Heptasteornis were found to be the same and most likely basal members of the Tetanurae in one study,[4] but Darren Naish did not follow the synonymy and found Heptasteornis to be an alvarezsaurid.[5] In a 2011 classification, Tom Holtz assigned Bradycneme to the alvareszauridae, along with Heptasteornis.



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