“”Variraptor”” is a genus of coelurosaurian theropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of France.
Between 1992 and 1995 amateur paleontologists Patrick Méchin and Annie Méchin-Salessy uncovered the remains of a small theropod in the Grès à Reptiles Formation at La Bastide Neuve, near Fox-Amphoux. The first finds were in 1992 assigned to the dubious theropod genus “Elopteryx”. A second article, in 1997, concluded they represented a new species. In 1998 this was named by Jean Le Loeuff and Eric Buffetaut as the type species “Variraptor mechinorum”. The generic name is derived from Latin “Varus”, referring to the Var River in the Alpes-Maritimes department in the Provence region of southern France, and “raptor” meaning “thief”. The specific name honours the Méchin couple.
The genus is based on three type specimens: a posterior dorsal vertebra , a sacrum with five fused vertebrae, and an ilium . The specimens are part of the collection of the Musée des Dinosaures d’Espéraza and the private “Collection Méchin”.
Additional referred material includes a right humerus with a deltopectoral crest more developed than in any other known theropod, suggesting a strong raptorial function for the forearm. Other attributed bones include a femur and various vertebrae.
The incomplete remains have dromaeosaurid features in the shape of the vertebrae and the humerus, with some resemblances to “Deinonychus”. An adult animal may have been slightly smaller than “Deinonychus” at around two meters long. However, the identity of the referred fossils has become uncertain.
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