Everything About Theropod Dinosaurs

The skeleton of a dinosaur

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Among the many species of dinosaurs, theropod dinosaurs remain the most fascinating animals. These predatory dinosaurs were one-of-a-kind creatures that would scare away every other land animal. So, what was so special about these dinosaurs, and were there any major theropod groups in the past? We will be answering all your queries in this article!

Theropods have many unsolved mysteries. However, thanks to recently found theropod remains, it is now easier to speculate what these animals looked like. Let’s begin with how fossil proof depicts a picture of these dinosaurs.

What are Theropods?

A dinosaur is in the forest

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Theropods were bipedal carnivorous dinosaurs that were discovered 231.4 million years ago. Fossil data suggests that most theropods used to be huge and were identified by their recurved teeth and enormous legs. They were bipeds, i.e., they used their back legs for walking and additional support.

Moreover, Theropods had short forelimbs that they would use to grasp or tear their prey. Additionally, these dinosaurs ranged from large theropods like the Tyrannosaurus rex to small theropods like Microraptors. Even though theropod groups were called beast-footed dinosaurs, their feet resembled birds.

How Were Theropod Dinosaurs Classified?

A dinosaur is in the grass

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A theropod can be classified into different groups depending on its size and other factors. Below we will be looking at some of the major groups of theropods.


Herrerasauridae 1 1

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Fossil evidence for the Herrerasauridae suggests that it had some basic theropod characteristics and was around 4 meters long. Like other theropods, they were carnivores; however, their evolutionary history still remains in question.

Scientists are still determining whether to include them in the theropod group or the dinosaur group. So, what made them so different and questionable? Basically, they had these two sacral vertebrae and hip bones, a combination of primitive and derived traits.

Additionally, their second finger was shorter than other basic theropods, and their wrist bones had a distinct skeleton. Even though they used to resemble the early theropods, they were also related to the archosaurs.


A ceratosauria is opening its mouth

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Ceratosauria is a well-known theropod because we have been hearing about it since the Jurassic Park movie. Theropods in this group were closely related to birds, and their fossil remains suggest that they dated way back to the late Jurassic period.

This theropod group included Coelophysis and Dilophosaurus, which were once considered a natural group. These dinosaurs were 1.5 meters long and had low heads with long necks and sharp recurved teeth.

Their feet were usually used for locomotion, while the arms were functional to catch prey. Fossils relating to these theropods’ structure have been recovered from many continents except Antarctica. Likewise, there has been no proof of their fossil through the late Cretaceous period.


Three dinosaurs are running

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Tetanurae is the largest theropod group with some major theropods, including the Coelurosauris and the Carnosaurua. Now, these theropods were huge, and in terms of being a predator, they were closely related to Allosaurus.

Recent fossils have also revealed that the dinosaurs in this theropod subgroup, especially the Carnosaurua, were bigger in size than the T.rex. And due to their gigantic appearance, they were the largest bipedal dinosaurs on Earth.

On the other hand, the Coelurosauris were much smaller but had a diverse set of features. In most stances, they were closely related to feathered birds and other creatures like the Velociraptor.

All in all, the phylogeny of theropods keeps changing as new evidence is revealed. Previously scientists believed that T.rex belonged to carnosaurs. However, recent research reveals that both of these animals belonged to Coelurosaurs. The more basal theropods are discovered from the early cretaceous period, the more modified the results will be.

Were Theropods Carnivorous Dinosaurs?

A theropods dinosaur is opening its mouth.

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Theropods, being classified as saurischian dinosaurs, were carnivores. Even though most theropods used to feed on meat and flesh only, some were also herbivores and omnivores. When we go through their evolutionary history, it suggests that they were fierce predators and would tremble the Earth when they were out on a hunt.

Recent research has also revealed that theropods like the Coelurosaurs used to be herbivores. This discovery was further confirmed by the gut, and feces fossils found recently. Paleontologists believe that theropods might have been carnivores; however, on rare occasions, they might have been herbivores too.

Why Were Theropods Known as Bipeds?

Three theropod dinosaurs are in the forest.

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Theropods were characterized by their long and strong hind legs, which helped them move and run fast. Because they used their back limbs to walk, theropods were usually called bipeds.

Even though they had forelimbs like other dinosaurs, they didn’t use them for locomotion. These forearms were short and tiny, so they only utilized them to grasp their prey or catch something.

What were Basal Theropods?

Basal theropod is a term that is usually used to refer to those dinosaurs that are closely related or were the ancestors of basic theropods. Additionally, scientists also called them primitive or early theropods.

Some of the most common theropods in this group are the Tawa, Herrerasaurus, and Eoraptor. Like other theropods, they also used to be carnivores and resembled other dinosaurs in the group.


What Dinosaurs were Included in the Theropod Group?

During the late Jurassic period, four different theropods were Megalosaurus, Ceratosausu, Coelurosaurs, and Allosaurus. Dinosaurs belonging to these groups were famous for preying on herbivore dinosaurs.

How are Modern Day Birds Related to Theropods?

Paleontologists believe that modern-day birds are descendants of the theropods. It is suggested that theropods are bipedal, just like today’s birds, and have many other closely related features. This helped scientists hypothesize that birds evolved from the theropod group but not the T.rex.

Can T.rex be Identified as a Theropod?

T.rex is one of the most evident theropods. Like many other theropods, it was known to reach up to 12 m in length and weighed 8 metric tons. In other terms, you could think of them to be heavier than an African elephant bull.

Bottom Line

Theropods will always remain fascinating creatures among the many gigantic dinosaurs. Their huge stature and bipedal structure distinguish them from other dinosaurs in that same era. Ever wished to own a real-life fossil of your favorite dino? If yes, then have your dream come true by clicking here!

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