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a meat-eating tetanuran theropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of England.
Pronunciation: VALD-o-RAP-tor
Meaning: Wealden plunderer
Author/s: Olshevsky (1991)
Synonyms: Megalosaurus oweni
First Discovery: West Sussex, England
Chart Position: 297

Valdoraptor oweni

Based on the same kind of bones that English footballers have the knack of fracturing just before major tournaments, Valdoraptor was initially assigned to the herbivorous Hylaeosaurus by Richard Owen in 1857. But it was moved to Megalosaurus dunkeri — a once high-spined carnivorous dinosaur that was unfathomably anchored by a single tooth from Germany — by Richard Lydekker in 1888.|#| On Account of their robustness, Lydekker changed his mind the following year and moved these three metatarsals (foot bones) to Megalosaurus oweni. Then, in 1923, they and a whole lot more became Altispinax (Megalosaurus oweni = Altispinax oweni and Megalosaurus dunkeri = Altispinax dunkeri) as Friedrich von Huene put the finishing touches to what can best be described as the dinosaurian equivalent of Scotch Broth.

From what remained of this weird concoction after the high-spines of Megalosaurus dunkeri became Becklespinax, George Olshevsky plucked said metatarsals and served Valdoraptor oweni to the world.|#| But although a supposed allosaurid, which are mostly medium-sized to huge, its dimensions are near impossible to determine due in no small part to its meagre fossils. Some paleontologists suspect these remains belong to either Neovenator or Eotyrannus from the Wessex Formation on the Isle of Wight instead, else class them as dubious. Others, however, think Valdoraptor is unique and a theropod in good standing, though "Tetanurae incertae sedis" (a tetanuran theropod of uncertain affinities) is as precise as they can be.

During his 2014 re-evaluation of fragmentary European ornithomimosaurs, Ronan Allain reasoned that Valdoraptor is both the first "ostrich mimic" known from England and the oldest record of this family from anywhere. Then he snatched both of those honors away by suggesting that it's also a junior synonym of fellow Wealden critter Thecocoelurus daviesi.
Valdoraptor is derived from the Latin "valdus" (Weald) referring to the Wealden Group where its remains were found and "raptor" (plunderer, robber or thief).
The species epithet, oweni, is a throwback to its original Megalosaurus tag, named in honor of Sir Richard Owen.
The remains of Valdoraptor were discovered in the Hastings beds of the Tunbridge Wells Sand Formation (Wealden Group), near Cuckfield, West Sussex. The holotype (R2559, housed at London's British Museum of Natural History) is a set of three metatarsals (foot bones). Owen made several mistakes with these remains that fooled paleontologists for over a century; he listed the holotype under the wrong catalogue number (R2556) and had a lithograph made of the bones that gave a mirrored image, so what looked like bones from the right foot were actually from the left foot.
Epoch: Early Cretaceous
Age range: 130-125 mya
Est. max. length: 5 meters
Est. max. hip height: ?
Est. max. weight: 250 Kg
Diet: Carnivore
Family Tree:
• Owen R (1858) "Monograph on the fossil Reptilia of the Wealden and Purbeck Formations". Part IV. Dinosauria (Hylaeosaurus). [Wealden]. The Palaeontological Society, London 1856-1864: 8-26.
• Lydekker, R. (1888) Catalogue of the Fossil Reptilia and Amphibia in the British Museum (Natural History), Cromwell Road, S.W., Part 1. Containing the Orders Ornithosauria, Crocodilia, Dinosauria, Squamata, Rhynchocephalia, and Proterosauria. British Museum of Natural History, London, 309pp.
• Lydekker R (1889) "On the remains and affinities of five genera of Mesozoic reptiles". Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society. 45: 41–59.
• Olshevsky G (1991) A revision of the parainfraclass Archosauria Cope, 1869, excluding the advanced Crocodylia. Mesozoic Meanderings 2.
• Holtz TR jr, Molnar RE and Currie PJ (2004) "Basal Tetanurae" in Weishampel, Dodson and Osmólska (eds.) "The Dinosauria: Second Edition".
• D. Naish and D.M. Martill (2007) "Dinosaurs of Great Britain and the role of the Geological Society of London in their discovery: basal Dinosauria and Saurischia". Journal of the Geological Society, London, Vol. 164, pp. 493–510.
• Allain R, Vullo R, Le loeuff J & Tournepiche J-F (2014) "European ornithomimosaurs (Dinosauria, Theropoda): an undetected record". Geologica Acta, 12(2): 127-135.
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "VALDORAPTOR :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 21st Feb 2018.