Variraptor (/"vair-i-rap-tor"/; "Var thief") is a genus of dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur that lived during the Late Cretaceous period (Campanian-Maastrichtian stages), approximately 77-66 million years ago. Named by French paleontologists Ronan Allain and Philippe Taquet in 1991, its fossils were discovered in the Grès à Reptiles Formation of France, making it the only dromaeosaurid known from that region during the Late Cretaceous.

Description and Classification

Variraptor belonged to the Dromaeosauridae, a family of bird-like theropods characterized by their agility, intelligence, distinctive sickle-shaped claws, and feathers. This small to medium-sized predator was estimated to have been around 2–3 meters (6.6–9.8 ft) long and weighed around 15–20 kilograms (33–44 lb). Like other dromaeosaurids, it possessed a long neck, a small head, a slender body, and powerful hindlimbs for running. A long tail aided its balance.

Close Relatives and Hunting

Variraptor is closely related to other dromaeosaurids, including Deinonychus and Velociraptor. This suggests a shared ancestry and similar hunting behavior. As a fast and agile predator, its diet likely included small dinosaurs, mammals, and lizards.

Paleoenvironment and Significant

Variraptor's remains were discovered in deposits that represent a warm, humid environment. It shared this habitat with a variety of other dinosaurs. Potential neighbors could include sauropods like Ampelosaurus or Titanosaurus, ornithopods like Rhabdodon, and possibly even armored ankylosaurs like Struthiosaurus. The discovery of Variraptor is significant as it provides new information about the evolution of dromaeosaurids and helps paleontologists understand the diversity of dinosaurs that lived in the Late Cretaceous period.

Ongoing Research

Further research on Variraptor is ongoing. Scientists are working to learn more about its anatomy, behavior, and ecology to shed light on its position within the dromaeosaurid family tree.

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