Big Fossil Footprints Suggest the Finding of a New Dinosaur Called a “Megaraptor”: Research

Despite their widespread recognition, the velociraptors from “Jurassic Park” have little resemblance to their historical counterparts.

Real velociraptors were about the size of a medium-sized dog, standing roughly 1.6 feet high and between 4.8 and 6.8 feet across, according to scientists. The velociraptors in the movie are shown as being extraordinarily fast, scaly-skinned, and six feet tall. They might have had feathers, and they moved more slowly.

But according to a new study released this week, scientists think they may have found a relative of the velociraptor that was two to three times larger—a “megaraptor”—which is more like to the animal shown in the movie.

“When [Steven] Spielberg made ‘Jurassic Park’, he blew up the velociraptors to make them scary. Real velociraptors are — say — about the size of coyotes,” stated Dr. W. Scott Persons, one of the study’s authors and a paleontologist at the College of Charleston. He is also the curator of the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History. “Yes, our animal is on par with the way raptors are depicted by Hollywood.”

According to a study published online on Wednesday in the Elsevier journal iScience, a sizable collection of dinosaur tracks—roughly 240—were found in winter 2020 outside of Longyan in the Fujian province, in southeast China.

“The giant raptor tracks were found as part of a much larger track site excavation,” Persons stated. “At this locality, we’ve got this huge mud stone deposit that is littered with all kinds of different dinosaur footprints, including lots of big herbivorous dinosaurs, lots of small herbivorous dinosaurs, several normal size raptors, and then they’re the really big ones that just happened to be preserved there as well.”

The scientists discovered exceptionally well-preserved traces that measured almost 14 inches in length. Notably, the footprint only had two toes.

People stated that because dinosaur footprints are frequently only partially preserved, it is unusual to find a footprint with one toe missing.

“But to have a whole left, right, left, right, left, right series of footprints, that’s always missing the same toe on each foot is really unusual. And that is the telltale marker of the footprint of a dinosaur or a raptor dinosaur,” the speaker stated.

Because raptors’ recognizable curled claws were kept off the ground, their tracks are distinct.

The researchers concluded that the trail was probably created by a velociraptor relative, which they have named Fujianipus yingliangi.

The study estimated that Fujianipus measured roughly 15 feet in total length, which is roughly two to three times the length of the velociraptor, based on the footprints.

In order to determine when the “megaraptor” may have lived and what other species might have existed at that time, the team plans to continue its investigation in the area in the hopes of finding some skeletal remains from it.

There is another aspect, according to some, that the new raptor resembles the velociraptors from “Jurassic Park” more than the real-life velociraptors did.

“The velociraptors in ‘Jurassic Park’ are credited with being really, really fast, and it’s true — velociraptor is not an animal you could outrun,” he stated. “But the true Adonis is the group that our animal belongs to, they’re the fastest of the raptors. They’ve got the longest shin bones and the longest foot bones out there. That equates to them covering more ground with every step. These are the real speedsters of the raptor family tree.”