Dromaeosaurus, meaning “running lizard”, is a genus of theropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Period (middle Campanian age), that lived between 76.5 and 74.8 million years ago. It lived in what is now the western United States and Canada. This dinosaur is poorly known from fossils, and is only described in detail based on other dromaeosaurid findings. Its remains were unearthed during a 1914 expedition to Red Deer River by sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History. The area where the fossils were recovered is now part of Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada. The find included a partial skull and some foot bones.
Several species of Dromaeosaurus have been described, D. albertensis is the most complete specimen. The genus itself is very rare, although it was one of the first small theropods to be described from cranial matter. Dromaeosaurus was initially placed in the genus Deinodontidae (now Tyrannosauridae), based on several similarities between two distinct skulls. In 1969, John H. Ostrom found that Dromaeosaurus shared many features with Velociraptor, and assigned these discoveries to a new family (Dromaeosauridae). Since then, many new relatives of Dromaeosaurus have been discovered.
Dromaeosaurus was a small carnivore, about 6 feet in length. It weighed around 33 pounds. It had jaws full of sharp teeth. It also has a sharp sickle-like claw on each foot. Although few bones have been collected from the hind limb, it indicates that this was a powerful and agile animal. The presence of fossilized feathers in other similar specimens, makes it possible that Dromaeosaurus was also feathered. It had large eyes and excellent vision. Its smell and hearing was also probably well tuned. It had a flexible neck and powerful jaws. The tail was also very flexible.
Dromaeosaurus is different from many of its relatives in having a short skull, deep mandible, and strong teeth. Its teeth tend to be heavily worn, which indicates that it may have used its jaws for crushing and tearing meat, rather than just slicing through flesh. The bite of the Dromaeosaurus is thought to be three times as strong as the Velociraptor. It is possible that it was more of a scavenger than a hunter, although its body was well suited for tackling large prey.
Dromaeosaurus has been featured in the documentary Walking with Dinosaurs, and has made an appearance in the series Jurassic Fight Club.