EGU Blogs

The underworld thief returns from the dead

So I don’t normally blog whenever a new dinosaur pops out the pages, but a new one, Acheroraptor temertyorum received quite a welcome back to the living world with this exquisite illustration by Danielle Dufault. I’ve asked for her permission to post on here, and it’ll appear on the front cover of Naturwissenschaften (December issue, probably), so defo worth checking out a hard copy!

Acheroraptor, in all its glory

Acheroraptor, in all its glory (click for larger, or email Danielle!)

A few deets 

Acheroraptor actually means ‘underworld thief’, making it one of the cooler named dinosaurs we have. From the Hell Creek Formation, from the latest Cretaceous of North America, Acheroraptor would have existed alongside the notoriously infamous Tyrannosaurus rex, as well as other dinosaur superstars like Triceratops.

Was Hades himself sympatric with Acherorum?

Was Hades himself sympatric with Acheroraptor?

Previously, dromaeosaurid remains from the Maastrichtian were only known from tooth fossils, which means that although we know they definitely existed, it was difficult to assign them to a particular or new species.

As a dromaeosaurid dinosaur, Acheroraptor actually represents the last surviving member of this group, and is probably closely-related to Asian dromaeosaurids such as Velociraptor mongoliensis, from, you guessed it, Mongolia. Interestingly, this suggests a rather complex biogeographical pattern between North America and Asia during the Late Cretaceous, with faunal exchange happening in a bi-directional manner.

A rather timely piece describing the history of bird evolution has just been published here too, by Daniel Ksepka. Worth popping on a brew and having a read.


Evans, D. C., Larson, D. W. and Currie, P. J. (2013) A new dromaeosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) with Asian affinities from the latest Cretaceous of North America, Naturwissenschaften100(11), 1041-1049

Avatar photo
Jon began university life as a geologist, followed by a treacherous leap into the life sciences. He spent several years at Imperial College London, investigating the extinction and biodiversity patterns of Mesozoic tetrapods – anything with four legs or flippers – to discover whether or not there is evidence for a ‘hidden’ mass extinction 145 million years ago. Alongside this, Jon researched the origins and evolution of ‘dwarf’ crocodiles called atoposaurids. Prior to this, there was a brief interlude were Jon was immersed in the world of science policy and communication, which greatly shaped his views on the broader role that science can play, and in particular, the current ‘open’ debate. Jon tragically passed away in 2020.

1 Comment

Comments are now closed for this post.