Pyroraptor olympius (S/F)

Pyroraptor is a genus of small theropod dinosaur in the family Dromaeosauridae, commonly called the “raptors.” It originated in the late Campanian or early Maastrichtian stages of the late Cretaceous period, about 70.6 million years ago, and is believed to have lived in what is now southern France and northern Spain. Its genus name means “fire thief,” in reference to its discovery, which was partly due to a forest fire. Only one species has been identified, Pyroraptor olympius; the species name refers to Mount Olympe, where it was discovered.

This dinosaur was discovered after a forest fire in 1992 damaged areas around Mount Olympe in the Provence region of France, in La Boucharde of the Arc Basin. Years later, in 2000, the genus and species were named by French paleontologists Ronan Allain and Philippe Taquet. The specimen they used to identify the animal included only the second toe claw of the left foot, but other remains have also been found, including the matching claw of the right foot, a metatarsal, a forearm bone, and two teeth. Remains have since been possibly found in the Vitória Formation and Tremp Group of Spain; these include several digits, a broken piece of metacarpal bone, the right arm’s radius, and two vertebrae (one from the spine, and one from the tail).

Dromaeosaurid remains from Europe are uncommon and usually fragmentary. This makes Pyroraptor a rare and valuable find, aiding in the research of European dinosaur diversity.

This species has been brought back from extinction using ancient DNA recovered from Cretaceous amber samples. Cloned specimens have grown to larger sizes than fossil remains suggest, though it is unclear whether the fossils represent the maximum possible size for this species or if the cloned specimens have been engineered to reach a larger body size.