Paleontologists from Utah and North Carolina have uncovered the 130-million-year-old fossilized remains of a coyote-sized raptor in Utah's Arches National Park. The raptor is the latest in a rapidly growing family of sharp-toothed, clawed carnivores that roamed the Earth during the Cretaceous period, feasting on smaller prey.
The new raptor, called Yurgovuchia doellingi, is a member of the family of dinosaurs known as Dromaeosauridae. The characteristic feature of Dromaeosauridae is a large curved claw on the second toe. The claw may have served as a weapon for killing prey, a climbing aid, a digging tool or a combination of functions. Body sizes in the family range from the size of a hummingbird (the four-winged Microraptor) to the size of a modern-day bear (Utahraptor). Several species from China have been shown to be covered with feathers and closely related to birds.