Nature 437, 1007-1011 (13 October 2005) | doi:10.1038/nature03996; Received 6 May 2005; Accepted 5 July 2005

The earliest dromaeosaurid theropod from South America

Peter J. Makovicky1, Sebastián Apesteguía2,4 & Federico L. Agnolín3

  1. Department of Geology, The Field Museum, 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60605, USA
  2. Sección de Paleontología de Vertebrados,
  3. Laboratorio de Anatomía Comparada, Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales 'Bernardino Rivadavia', Av. Ángel Gallardo 470, Buenos Aires (1405), Argentina
  4. Fundación de Historia Natural 'Félix de Azara', CAECNA, Universidad Maimónides, V. Virasoro 732, Buenos Aires (1405), Argentina

Correspondence to: Peter J. Makovicky1Sebastián Apesteguía2,4 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to P.J.M. (Email: pmakovicky@fieldmuseum.org) or S.A. (Email: paleoninja@yahoo.com.ar).

The evolutionary history of Maniraptora, the clade of carnivorous dinosaurs that includes birds and the sickle-clawed Dromaeosauridae, has hitherto been largely restricted to Late Jurassic and Cretaceous deposits on northern continents. The stunning Early Cretaceous diversity of maniraptorans from Liaoning, China1, 2, 3, coupled with a longevity implied by derived Late Jurassic forms such as Archaeopteryx, pushes the origins of maniraptoran lineages back to Pangaean times and engenders the possibility that such lineages existed in Gondwana. A few intriguing, but incomplete, maniraptoran specimens have been reported from South America4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Africa9 and Madagascar10. Their affinities remain contested11, 12, 13, however, and they have been interpreted as biogeographic anomalies relative to other faunal components of these land-masses. Here we describe a near-complete, small dromaeosaurid that is both the most complete and the earliest member of the Maniraptora from South America, and which provides new evidence for a unique Gondwanan lineage of Dromaeosauridae with an origin predating the separation between northern and southern landmasses.


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