For the first featured Fauna Figures creature I have chosen to look closer at the GeoWorld Falcarius, released as part of the Jurassic Hunters 2nd Expedition. Why Falcarius? Because I’d never heard of this dinosaur until I saw it listed, so I had to learn more about it!
It turns out that Falcarius is a fairly new dinosaur, first described in 2005 from the early Cretaceous (~126 Million years ago) of Utah. It was a smaller dinosaur, about 4 metres (13ft) long, with a longer neck and tail, a small head and a somewhat bulky body. It was a bipedal walker, so the hind legs were quite long and strong, but the arms were a different matter–unlike many bipedal dinosaurs, Falcarius had very long arms as well, and each hand carried very large claws. These large claws give Falcarius its genus name, as it means ‘sickle cutter’ in Latin.
These big claws gives away the relationship of Falcarius. Although a very primitive species, it is an early member of the therizinosaur group of dinosaurs. As a lineage, these odd-looking dinosaurs were adapted as plant-eaters, possibly using their large claws to bring plants closer to their little heads (they were probably also useful for display or defense). But their ancestry is as part of the theropods, the meat-eating dinosaurs that include Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptor and Suchomimus, as well as modern birds. Therizinosaurs were actually part of the theropod lineage, the maniraptors, that include birds. Some therizinosaur fossils are even found with feathers, so it is possible that all therizinosaurs had feathers.