Dromeosaurs are one of the last dinosaur groups to really become superstars. In the 80s, Deinonychus was the most popular dinosaur: a unique sprinter, jumper, kicker, gangster. A well-armed social hunter, Deinonychus mobbing and dismembering their prey became a defining image of the new “hot blood” look of dinosaurs as science finally came to terms with dinosaur endothermy. When Michael Crichton gave them the name of Velociraptor and Steven Spielberg put them on screen in the most terrifying depiction of any dinosaur, they became superstars.
Immediately after the release of the film, a new giant dromaeosaur was discovered: Utahraptor. Utahraptor showed that Deinonychus was no longer the earliest or largest dromaeosaur. Earlier dromaeosaurs have since been found, but not larger ones. At over 1,000 lbs, Utahraptor remains the largest (and most famous) of the dromaeosaurs. In the 2010s, a new giant raptor has made headlines. Extremely rare, Dakotaraptor finally allows for the fantasy “Utahraptor meets Tyrannosaurus” scenarios dinosaur fans have dreamed of for 20 years.
But there are two other giant raptors, two big dromaeosaurs that have been found and ignored by popular culture. One I will deal with later along with its family, but today I will talk about Velociraptor’s giant predecessor in Mongolia: Achillobator.