A feathered “raptor” dinosaur, Albertavenator curriei, has been discovered in 71 million-year-old rocks outside of Drumheller, Alberta. It was named by paleontologists David Evans and colleagues, with the name meaning “Alberta hunter” in Latin. The species name honors legendary Canadian paleontologist Phil Currie.
Albertavenator is a troodontid, one of two families of Cretaceous “raptor” dinosaurs with raised sickle claws on their feet. Troodontids were relatively small hunters, usually chicken- to swan-sized. They were covered in feathers from snout to tail tip, and their arms resembled clawed bird wings. Troodontids had longer feet and smaller sickle-claws than their cousins the dromaeosaurs, like Deinonychus and Velociraptor. These differences show that troodontids were quick hunters of small prey and dromaeosaurids were slower hunters of larger prey.
Only a few bones are known for Albertavenator: portions of the skull roof and lower jaw previously described as probably belonging to Troodon. Although fragmentary, comparison to other troodontids shows that Albertavenator is unique. When compared to its cousin Troodon, known from slightly older rocks in Alberta and Montana, Albertavenator had a shorter snout and wider face.