Since the discovery in 1998, the dinosaur was known informally as Das Monster von Minden, or the Monster of Minden. Wiehenvenator is named for the Wiehengebirge Hills and for its discoverer, Friedrich Albat.
Wiehenvenator is known from a partial skull including the upper tooth-bearing bones, and some bones surrounding the eye, as well as part of the lower jaw. In addition, several tail vertebrae, ribs, and partial leg bones are known. Although incompletely known, the bones that are preserved show that the skull was fairly long and low. When it was discovered, scientists had originally estimated that Wiehenvenator was one of the largest theropods known, perhaps 12 meters long. The current estimate of body length, while still quite large, has been downgraded to about 8 or 9 meters (26-30 ft).
Theropod dinosaurs are the bipedal carnivores of the Mesozoic and live on to the present day as birds. They are familiar to most readers as the group that includes giant predators like Tyrannosaurus and Giganotosaurus, the “raptors” like Deinonychus, unusual herbivores like Oviraptor and Therizinosaurus, and of course, birds. Wiehenvenator was a member of one of the earliest groups of widespread, large-sized theropods: the megalosaurids. Megalosaurids included the namesake Megalosaurus (the first dinosaur given a scientific name), as well as Torvosaurus, Eustreptospondylus, and Afrovenator. A phylogenetic analysis performed by the authors found that Wiehenvenator was most closely related to Torvosaurus from the Late Jurassic of the USA and Portugal even though it lived near to and at roughly the same time as Megalosaurus from the Middle Jurassic of England.