Temporal range: Aptian-Albian, 112 Ma
Santanaraptor (meaning "Santana Formation thief") is a genus of theropod dinosaur that lived in South America during the Early Cretaceous (late Aptian-early Albian), about 112 million years ago. It is known from a partial juvenile specimen recovered with fragments of mineralized soft tissue, including muscle and skin tissue, but no trace of the external covering, which was unearthed in 1996 from the Romualdo Group (Santana Formation) in the Ceará State, northeastern Brazil. While primarily known from hindquarter elements, the individual represented by the fossil may have reached 1.25 metres (4.1 ft) in length. The fossil consists of bones from the pelvis, hindlimbs, and tail. These provide little information on its overall appearance. However, it was definitely a coelurosaur, and a few of its details suggest that it might be a member of the tyrannosauroids. It is presumed to be similar to Dilong and Guanlong in that it had long arms, three fingered hands, and slim hindlimbs. Santanaraptor is thought by some paleontologists to be the first tyrannosauroid known from Gondwana.
The holotype (MN 4802-V) consists of three caudal vertebrae with chevrons, ischia, femora, tibia, fibula, pes, and soft tissue. The fossilized tissue includes a thin epidermis, muscle fibers, and possibly blood vessels.
The type species is S. placidus, first described by Kellner in 1999. The species epithet refers to Placido Cidade Nuvens, who founded the Museu de Paleontologia da Universidade Regional do Cariri.
Santanaraptor was originally thought to be a maniraptoran theropod when it was first discovered. However, it is now thought to be a basal coelurosaur based on several features present on the femur. Santanaraptor may have been closely related to Ornitholestes, an earlier coelurosaur of the Late Jurassic, based on similarities in the ischium, a bone of the pelvis.
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- Holtz, Thomas R. Jr. (2004). "Tyrannosauroidea". The Dinosauria (Second ed.). University of California Press.
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- Kellner, A. W. A. (1999). "Short Note on a new dinosaur (Theropoda, Coelurosauria) from the Santana Formation (Romualdo Member, Albian), northeastern Brazil". Boletim do Museu Nacional (Serie Geologia). 49: 1–8.