Federico Brissón Egli, Alexis M. Aranciaga Rolando, Federico L. Agnolín, and Fernando E. Novas (2017)
Osteology of the unenlagiid theropod Neuquenraptor argentinus from the Late Cretaceous of Patagonia.
Acta Palaeontologica Polonica (in press)
Neuquenraptor argentinus was described as the first undoubted deinonychosaurian theropod from Gondwana. The only known specimen is represented by a fragmentary skeleton, including a nearly complete foot, coming from Late Cretaceous beds of Neuquén Province, Patagonia, Argentina. Neuquenraptor was later considered as belonging to the Southern Hemisphere paravian clade Unenlagiidae, and proposed as a junior synonym of Unenlagia comahuensis. The aim of the present paper is to include a detailed anatomical description of Neuquenraptor (up to the date only known by a preliminary description). Comparisons with other paravians, especially unenlagiids, resulted in the finding of characters that may be considered as diagnostic of Unenlagiidae (e.g., scar-like fourth trochanter of femur, metatarsal II with tongue-shaped process over the caudal surface of metatarsal III, well-developed convex longitudinal plantar crest of metatarsal IV). Furthermore, comparisons between Neuquenraptor and Unenlagia are carried out with the aim to evaluate the possible synonymy between these taxa. These comparisons indicate that at least two similar-sized unenlagiids were present on the Portezuelo Formation. However, in concordance with previous authors, we are not able to support nor dismiss the possible synonymy between Unenlagia and Neuquenraptor. Additional findings of unenlagiid fossils from the Portezulo Formation will help to clarify the taxonomic status of these taxa.