On what was once a muddy plain - footprints at a sizable raptor : In real life, velociraptors topped out at the size of a Labrador retriever, much smaller than the human-size hunters portrayed in the '' Jurassic Park '' series.

Still, some raptors did achieve imposing sizes. And in a paper published last month in the journal iScience, a team of paleontologists reported that it might have identified one of the largest raptors known to science based on a set of fossilized footprints found in China.

The raptor's imprints are part of a larger dinosaur trackway discovered in southeastern China in 2020. During the Late Cretaceous period, about 90 million years ago, the area was a muddy river plain, home to all manner of dinosaurs that left footprints.

Among them, researchers found a set of five raptor imprints that are more than 13 inches [ 33 centimeters ] long, making them the largest such tracks in the fossil record.  Based on their size, the dinosaur that left them was roughly 5 feet [ 1.5 meters ] tall and 15 feet [ 4.5 meters] long, putting it in the neighborhood of the largest known raptors.

These distinct footprints inspired the paleontologists to name the new raptor Fujianipus [ meaning '' the foot of Fujian '' ] yingliangi. The proportions of its toes make it likely that Fujianpus was a troodontid, a type of birdlike raptor that inhabited Asia and North America during the Cretaceous period.

According W. Scott Persons, a paleontologist at the College of Charleston in South Carolina and co-author of the paper, giants like Fujianipus are outliers because raptors  '' appear to have been way better at being small-and-medium sized carnivores.'' [ Jack Tamisiea ]    


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