Rapator

Name: Rapator Rapator‭ (‬Thief‭).
Phonetic: Ra-pa-tor.
Named By: Friedrich von Huene‭ ‬-‭ ‬1932.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptila,‭ ‬Dinosauria,‭ ‬Saurischia,‭ ‬Theropoda,‭ ‬Megaraptora.
Species: R.‭ ‬ornitholestoides‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Carnivore.
Size: Estimated at up to‭ ‬9‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: Australia,‭ ‬New South Wales‭ ‬-‭ ‬Griman Creek Formation.
Time period: Aptian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Finger bone.‭

       Australia would have had a lot of dinosaurs roaming around during the Mesozoic but the harsh conditions of the land mean that when dinosaur remains are discovered they are often very fragmentory and of a single bone.‭ ‬Thus Rapator is currently only known from a single small bone,‭ ‬kind of like other Australian genera like Ozraptor which is only known from a partial lower leg bone.‭ ‬One interesting thing of note about the Rapator specimen is that it has been opalised‭ (‬turned into opal‭)‬.‭ ‬Another Australian dinosaur called Kakuru,‭ ‬which coincidentally is also named after a single bone,‭ ‬has also had its fossil opalised.
       The future of Rapator as a valid genus is by no means certain with many palaeontologists treating it as a nomen dubium.‭ ‬This is because it would be difficult to attribute further fossil remains to the genus upon the grounds that the existing fossil material is simply too little to go on.‭ ‬This bone was once considered to be similar to the dinosaur Ornitholestes in form which led to the species name of R.‭ ‬ornitholesoides which means‭ ‘‬Ornitholestes-like‭’‬.‭ ‬But it was the discovery of Australovenator in‭ ‬2009‭ ‬that led to a clearer identification yet paradoxically greater uncertainty about Rapator.‭ ‬The finger bone of Rapator is very much like the known finger bones of Australovenator which suggest that Rapator was a megaraptorian theropod.‭ ‬However the finger bone is so similar that there has been suggestion that Rapator and Australovenator actually represent the same genus of theropod,‭ ‬something which if true could see Australovenator becoming a synonym to Rapator.
       The problem with the above synonymy is that it is near impossible to be certain because of the low level of Rapator remains.‭ ‬Australovenator by contrast is also represented by very incomplete remains,‭ ‬but there is still substantially more of this dinosaur to compare future remains too.‭ ‬The only connections between Rapator and Australovenator that can be positively made is that they appear to be the same type of theropod,‭ ‬and were both active during the Aptian period of the Cretaceous.‭ ‬Another dubious genus of Australian theropod is Walgettosuchus,‭ ‬a dinosaur‭ ‬that is only‭ ‬known from an opalised vertebra and has also in the past been suggested as being the same as Rapator.‭ ‬Again however the lack of remains make a connection impossible to establish and the genus remains a nomen dubium.

Further reading
Die fossile Reptil-Ordnung Saurischia, ihre Entwicklung und Geschichte [The fossil reptile order Saurischia, their development and history]. - Monographien zur Geologie und Palaeontologie, serie 1 4(1-2):1-361. - F. von Huene - 1932.
- Morphological comparisons of metacarpal I for Australovenator wintonensis and Rapator ornitholestoides: Implications for their taxonomic relationships. - Alcheringa: an Australasian Journal of Palaeontology. - M. A. White, P. L. Falkingham, A. G. Cook, S. A. Hucknull & D. A. Elliot - 2013.


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