Its name comes from Latin and can be translated as “thief of Utah”, Utahraptor is known as a single species and is a therópodo dromeosáurido, is believed to have lived in the lower Cretaceous in what is now North America. It’s probably the largest raptor that has ever lived and perhaps also one of the rarest because it weighed a little over a ton but I could tell you that it was very similar to a bird. Not much is known about it but from the few data that have been gathered it is known that it was about 2 times larger than a Deinonychus, which is quite impressive for a raptor. It would measure approximately 7 meters long and it is estimated that some could reach up to 11 meters. It had large claws of almost 30 centimeters which made it a fearsome predator.
The Utahraptor they found was not complete, they only found some pieces of his skull, a part of his leg and vertebrae of his tail, with only fragments they could deduce many things from it. The first remains were found in 1975, Him Hensen was the one who made the greatest discoveries, these were made in Utah in a town called Moab, at first the parts as they were not quite sure what exactly they had found were not stirred by the finding, but it wasn’t until 1991 that they found a big claw in Gran County Utah that they began to pay more attention to it, it is believed that these remains were there for more than 124 million years. The University of Eastern Utah’s Museum of Prehistory has the largest collection of Utahraptor’s remains. It was from Kirkland Gaston and Burge in 1993 that it received its name.
The Utahraptors were among the fiercest carnivores mainly because of the claws on their legs, which could be very long and sharp as knives. The most interesting thing was the way he used them, first of all because they were so big when he ran to catch his prey he had a mechanism to lift them up and not to drag them away, this ability to keep his claw made them work more or less like a knife that he could pull out when he needed it most. A single cut of its powerful claws could leave any prey very badly wounded. Only this feature alone made it scary enough, now if we consider that it also had very powerful teeth that were about the size of a finger, we can imagine how effective it was for hunting.
A third characteristic that made it even more fearsome is that its arms were long, much longer than human arms, this is important especially if we take into account that most predators had very short arms. Utahraptor’s claws had three very sharp clawed fingers. And if that wasn’t enough, he was a very agile runner.
Although it is a predator par excellence, one of the things that makes it special is that many people think that this terrible hunter had feathers. There is great evidence to suggest that all dromeosaurids could have feathers, this because their furthest relative the Microraptor had feathers and also many others of the same family, so because they belong to the same family it is thought that the Utahraptor had feathers. Some theories say he may have lost his feathers to evolution but there is no evidence to the contrary. The last study was done in 2001 looking at the remains of different types of dromeosaurids but the results were inconclusive and the theory that they were covered with feathers is the most accepted.
The BBC immortalized Utahraptor in its documentary Walk with Dinosaurs, which, by the way, appears here without feathers. He also appears in Jurassic Fight Club, a series in which he hypothetically confronts two dinosaurs. Maybe where you can see Utahraptor more accurately is in Kingdom of Dinosaurs and online at Dinosaur comics. He also appears in Dino Rey and Zoo Tycoon 2.