Dryptosaurus, meaning “tearing lizard”, is a genus of primitive tyrannosaur dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Period (Maastrichtian Age) and lived in what is now eastern North America. It was discovered in New Jersey by workers in a quarry. It was described by E.D. Cope and subsequently named it Laelaps (meaning “storm wind”, named after a dog in Greek mythology that never failed to catch what it was hunting). It became one of the first dinosaurs to be described from North America. It was later discovered that “Laelaps” had already been taken by another specimen, and Cope’s lifelong rival O.C. Marsh renamed it to Dryptosaurus in 1877.
Dryptosaurus was about 21.5 feet long, 6 feet tall at the hips, and weighed about 1.2 tons. It had long arms with three fingers on each hand. Each finger was tipped with an 8 inch claw. Although it was most likely a carnivore, its comparison to other known east coast dinosaurs make establishing its specific diet quite difficult. It is possible that, at least in eastern North America, it may have fed on the Hadrosaurus, which has also been found in the bone beds where Dryptosaurus was found.