Opal miners in the town of Lightning Ridge, Australia, found a potentially new species of theropod dinosaur with abnormally long claws. Aside from a large claw, parts of the arm, ribs, hips, foot, and many other fragments were found. Although the specimen has yet to be officially named, it has come to be known informally as “Lightning Claw,” a nod to where it was found and because it possessed two characteristic hypertrophied claws used for hunting prey.
Lightning Claw is estimated at 7 meters (23 feet) long, larger than the former largest carnivorous dinosaur found in Australia, Australovenator, which was thought to be around 5 meters (16 feet) long. Lightning Claw and Australovenator are both megaraptorids, part of a rare group of predators that possess large hand claws. They are also the only known megaraptorid fossils to be found outside of South America.
Lightning Claw was a large predator that lived on the southern supercontinent Gondwana during the early Cretaceous ( around 110 million years ago), making it the oldest known megaraptorid. During this time, it likely roamed in search of prey that it subdued with its “grappling hooks”. The claws were likely used as its main weapon because Lightning Claw likely didn’t have robust and powerful jaws like those of the famous Tyrannosaurus rex.