The Neuquen thief, Neuquenraptor (2005)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Saurischia
Family : Dromaeosauridae
Subfamily : Unenlagiinae
Genus : Neuquenraptor
Species : N. argentinus

  • Late Cretaceous (89,7 - 86,3 Ma)
  • 1,8 m long (size)
  • Neuquen province, Argentina (map)

Neuquenraptor is a dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur of the Late Cretaceous of Argentina, one of the first dromaeosaurids found in the Southern Hemisphere.

In January 1996 the remains of Neuquenraptor were found near Plaza Huincul in the Sierra del Portezuelo and reported that very year. In 1997 it was revealed the intended name was “Araucanoraptor argentinus”. In 1999 it was provisionally described as a member of the Troodontidae.

Neuquenraptor might be a junior subjective synonym of Unenlagia; that is, the two might represent the same genus or even species, in which case the name Unenlagia would have to be used instead of Neuquenraptor because the former name was published earlier, in 1997, and thus has priority.

Neuquenraptor was assigned by Novas and Pol to the Dromaeosauridae in a polytomy with several dromaeosaurid taxa. By later cladistic analyses it was recovered in the Unenlagiinae.

Neuquenraptor enjoys a special importance because of its provenance from South America. Until the discovery of Neuquenraptor, all dromaeosaurids had been found in North America, Europe or Northern China / Mongolia, and scientists believed that dromaeosaurids only inhabited Laurasia, i.e. the Northern Hemisphere. South America however, during the Mesozoic became part of Gondwana. The find of Neuquenraptor provides some possible indication of the degree of isolation between the Northern and Southern hemispheres.