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Dromaeosaurus was a genus of theropod dinosaur which lived during the Late Cretaceous period (middle late Campanian), sometime between 76.5 and 74.8 million years ago, in the western United States and Alberta, Canada. The name means 'running lizard' and is derived from the Greek dromeus (δρομευς) meaning 'runner' and sauros (σαυρος) meaning 'lizard'.

DescriptionEdit

Dromaeosaurus was a small carnivore, the size of a wolf, about 2 m (6 ft) in length and 15 kg (33 lb) in weight. Its mouth was full of sharp teeth, and it had a sharp "sickle claw" on each foot.

Although only a few bones are known from the hindlimb, they indicate that Dromaeosaurus was a powerfully built animal. The presence of feathers in closely related animals makes it extremely likely that it was feathered as well.

Dromaeosaurus had remarkably large eyes and excellent vision. It also probably had a good sense of smell and hearing. Its neck was curved flexible and its jaws were solidly built. The tail was flexible at the base but sheathed in a lattice of bony rods; this allowed it to be carried in a sharply upturned position.

Discovery and later findsEdit

Despite receiving widespread attention in popular books on dinosaurs, and the usage of a complete mounted skeleton cast in museums throughout the world, Dromaeosaurus is surprisingly poorly known from actual fossils. The preparation of the popular cast by the Tyrrell Museum was only made possible by knowledge gained from other dromaeosaurids that have been discovered more recently.

The first known Dromaeosaurus remains were discovered by paleontologist Barnum Brown during a 1914 expedition to Red Deer River on behalf of the American Museum of Natural History.[1] The area where these bones were collected is now part of Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada.[2] The find consisted of a partial skull 24 cm (9.4 in) in length, and some foot bones.[1][2] Several other skull fragments, and about 30 isolated teeth, are known from subsequent discoveries in Alberta and Montana.[2]

Several species of Dromaeosaurus have been described, but Dromaeosaurus albertensis is the most complete specimen.[2] Additionally, it is apparent that this genus is even rarer than other small theropods, although it was one of the first small theropods described based on reasonably good cranial material.[2]

Matthew and Brown originally placed Dromaeosaurus within "Deinodontidae" (now known as Tyrannosauridae), based on some similarities in the general proportions of the skull.[1] In 1969, John H. Ostrom recognized that Dromaeosaurus shared many features with Velociraptor and the newly-discovered Deinonychus, and assigned these forms to a new family: Dromaeosauridae.[3] Since then, many new relatives of Dromaeosaurus have been found.

Paleobiology and dietEdit

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