Named By: A. Cau, V. Beyrand, D. F. A. E. Voeten, V. Fernandez, P. Tafforeau, K. Stein, R. Barsbold, K. Tsogtbaatar, P. J. Currie & P. Godefroit - 2017.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Dinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda, Dromaeosauridae, Halszkaraptorinae.
Species: H. escuilliei (type).
Size: Skull to sacrum length = 45 centimetres.
Known locations: Mongolia - Djadochta Formation?
Time period: Campanian? of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Almost complete skull and post cranial skeleton of a sub adult.
is without doubt one of the most interesting dromaeosaurid
ever discovered. Although a dromaeosaurid dinosaur, Halszkaraptor
seems to have lived more like a modern day semi aquatic bird.
Halszkaraptor could still walk about on land, the rear legs were easily strong enough for this. But the tail was not stiffened like it was in other kinds of dromaeosaurs. The tail was also shorter, shifting the bodies centre of gravity forward, something that would make swimming easier. The forelimbs were adapted to small flipper-like appendages, features that would have allowed Halszkaraptor to stroke through the water, further enhancing swimming.
The head also shows specialisation for aquatic hunting. When seen from above the snout is rounded into a rough spoon shape, increasing surface area for prey capture. Each premaxilla bone (the forward most tooth bearing bone in the upper jaw) has eleven teeth, which at the time of its description, more than any other known dinosaur. Further to this small channels in the skull of Halszkaraptor have been interpreted as being placements for electro-sensory organs, features that would have detected the body movements of aquatic creatures such as fish, even when Halszkaraptor could not actually see them.
These features combine to describe Halszkaraptor as a small dinosaur that may have hunted small fish in a similar manner to how a modern day merganser (sometimes called a goosander) does today.
from being a very interesting dinosaur, the discovery of
Halszkaraptor also highlights the problem of the
black market fossil
trade. In many parts of the world it is illegal to take fossils
across the border of the country where they are found (unless
exceptional permission is granted from local authorities first).
This has led to an illegal fossil trade where fossil poachers will
illegally excavate or just steal fossils already dug up, and then
smuggle them out of the country to sell on the international black
In the case of Halszkaraptor, the holotype fossil was taken from Mongolia, possibly from the Djadochta Formation, though that detail we cannot yet be certain about. This is because scientists did not finds out about it until 2015 when it appeared in Europe, going through other private collections in various countries first. Fortunately when it came into the ownership François Escuillié, he realised its importance and took it to a museum for palaeontologists to look at. Not only was it confirmed to be a new genus, and an important one, François Escuillié agreed to the type specimen being returned to Mongolian authorities. This is why the type species name of Halszkaraptor, H. escuilliei, was created in honour of François Escuillié. The genus name Halszkaraptor, is in honour of Polish paleontologist Halszka Osmólska, for his work on many Mongolian fossils, especially those to do with dinosaurs.
- Synchrotron scanning reveals amphibious ecomorphology in a new clade of bird-like dinosaurs. - Nature. - A. Cau, V. Beyrand, D. F. A. E. Voeten, V. Fernandez, P. Tafforeau, K. Stein, R. Barsbold, K. Tsogtbaatar, P. J. Currie & P. Godefroit - 2017.
- The body plan of Halszkaraptor escuilliei (Dinosauria, Theropoda) is not a transitional form along the evolution of dromaeosaurid hypercarnivory. - PeeJ. - Andrea Cau - 2020.