Ozraptor

Name: Ozraptor ‭(‬Oz thief‭ ‬-‭ ‬from the word‭ ‘‬Ozzies‭’‬,‭ ‬a nickname for Australians‭).
Phonetic: Oz-rap-tor.
Named By: John Albert Long‭ & ‬Ralph Molnar‭ ‬-‭ ‬1998.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Dinosauria,‭ ‬Saurischia,‭ ‬Theropoda,‭ ‬Abelisauroidea.
Species: O.‭ ‬subotaii‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Carnivore.
Size: Uncertain due to incomplete remains,‭ ‬but comparison to other remains has yielded an estimate of two meters long.
Known locations: Australia.
Time period: Bajocian of the Jurassic.
Fossil representation: Lower portion of the left tibia,‭ ‬one of the lower leg bones.

       It’s hard to imagine how a dinosaur can be named from just a single portion of a leg bone,‭ ‬but this is what happened with Ozraptor.‭ ‬Although incomplete,‭ ‬in‭ ‬2005‭ ‬the palaeontologist Oliver Rauhut noted that this tibia does have a vertical median ridge on the astragalar groove.‭ ‬Previously Ozraptor was labelled as an unknown theropod but this feature suggests that it was actually an abelisaur.‭ ‬Additionally since it is known from the mid Jurassic,‭ ‬this would make Ozraptor the earliest known abelisaur,‭ ‬existing long before the more famous forms of Carnotaurus,‭ ‬Abelisaurus and Aucasaurus which lived towards the end of the Cretaceous.‭
       If this classification is correct,‭ ‬as well as the two meter size estimate,‭ ‬then this also suggests that the abelisaurs just like the tyrannosaurs started out very small and then grew larger as they displaced existing predators.‭ ‬Future fossil discoveries may yet reveal a picture of larger but more primitive predatory dinosaurs like Australovenator being dominant on the landscape during the early Cretaceous but losing ground to abelisaurs later on,‭ ‬something that seems to have happened upon other southern continents during the Mesozoic.
       The species name of O.‭ ‬subotaii is derived from the character of Subotai from the‭ ‬1982‭ ‬film‭ Conan the Barbarian‭ ‬which was based upon the stories of Robert E.‭ ‬Howard.

Further reading
- A new Jurassic theropod dinosaur from Western Australia. - Records of the Western Australian Museum 19 (1): 221-229. - J. A. Long & R. E. Molnar - 1998.




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