Rapator Ornitholestoides

Von Huene 1932

    "thief" or "plunderer"
    Incertae Sedis, Theropoda
    Early Cretaceous 100-110 MYA
    Griman Creek Formation
    6-9 metres (20-30 feet) long?

    Lightning Ridge,
    New South Wales

A single opalised hand bone was described and named by Friederich von Huene in 1932. It so closely resembled that of the coelurosaur Ornitholestes hermani from North America that it was given the species name ornitholestoides, meaning 'like Ornitholestes'.

The name Rapator is probably derived from the Latin word 'raptor' which means 'that which seizes', or for a more modern short-hand translation, 'thief' or 'plunderer'. Rapator may have been up to 9 metres (30 feet) in length, depending on its exact body shape. Other theropod bone fragments from Lightning Ridge could also belong with Rapator (Molnar 1982a, 1991).

The exact relationships of Rapator are unclear. It has been suggested that Rapator could have belonged to the Abelisaurs, although this seems to have been based on biogeographic grounds alone. It was more recently suggested that the fossil may actually be phalanx 1 of manual digit I of a large alvarezsaur, a group of extremely bird-like theropods known from South America and Mongolia. However since the discovery of Australovenator it seems more likely that Rapator may have been a megaraptoran.

Rapator is characterised by its first metacarpal bone having an elongated posteromedial process, a feature otherwise seen only in Ornitholestes. It differs from that genus however in that the first metacarpal bone in Rapator is considerably larger, broader relative to length, more robust, and with the posteromedial process more prominently developed.

From Long, J.A. 1998 Dinosaurs of Australia and New Zealand

Huene, F.von 1932. Die fossil Reptil - Ordnung Saurischia, ihre Entwicklung und Geschichte. Monographs in Geologie und Palaontologie 1:1-361