Artist's impression

Balaur was a dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur that lived in the Late Cretaceous of Romania.


Only partial skeletal material of Balaur has been discovered, but it is believed to have grown from 1.8 to 2.1 meters in length. Its most distinguishing feature is the presence of two retractable sickle claws on each foot instead of one as normal in other dromaeosaurids.[1] Besides the feet, other recovered material includes vertebrae and the limbs.


Balaur was a dromaeosaurid. Phylogenetic analysis places it close to Velociraptor.


Bones of Balaur were first collected in Romania as early as 1997, but they were misidentified as coming from some type of oviraptorosaur.[2] A partial skeleton was later discovered in 2009, and was named Balaur bondoc after a dragon from Romanian folklore.[3]


Romania was an island during the Cretaceous period, which has been dubbed "Hațeg Island". Dinosaur fossils found in the region often exhibit dwarfism, which was likely due to the isolated nature of the island.[4] Balaur was possibly the apex predator in the area, although it displays some unusual traits. The fossils of the animal show that, unlike other dromaeosaurids, it was built for strength rather than speed.[5] Its hands were also atrophied, which meant they were probably not used in hunting.[6] Balaur likely used its double sickle claws to slash at its prey, leading its discovers to describe it as "probably more of a kickboxer than a sprinter" compared to its close relative Velociraptor.[7] The dinosaur's strange anatomical features have led some paleontologists to speculate that it was actually a herbivore.[8]


  1. Z., Csiki; Vremir, M.; Brusatte, S. L.; and Norell, M. A. (2010). "An aberrant island-dwelling theropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Romania". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107 (35): 15357–15361. doi:10.1073/pnas.1006970107. PMC 2932599. PMID 20805514.
  2. Csiki, Z. and Grigorescu, D. (2005). "A new theropod from Tustea: are there oviraptorosaurs in the Upper Cretaceous of Europe?" (PDF). Kaupia (Current Research in Vertebrate Palaeontolgy 3rd Annual Meeting of the European Association of Vertebrate Palaeontologists (EAVP)) 14: 78.
  3. Skok, Petar (1988) [1971] (in Serbo-Croatian). Etimologijski rječnik hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika. 1. Zagreb: Jugoslavenska akademija znanosti i umjetnosti. p. 170. ISBN 86-407-0064-8
  4. Csikia, Z., and M. J. Bentonb (2010). "An island of dwarfs — Reconstructing the Late Cretaceous Hațeg palaeoecosystem". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 293 (3–4): 265–270. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.05.032.
  5. "BBC News - Beefy dino sported fearsome claws". 2010-08-31. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
  6. "New Predatory Dinosaur Discovered in Romania". 2009-01-04. Archived from the original on 2010-09-01. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
  7. Caroline Davies (2010-08-30). "Frightening new predator found in the homeland of the dragon | Science". London: The Guardian. Archived from the original on 31 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
  8. Cau, A (2010). Balaur: More than just a "Double-Sickle-Clawed Raptor" Theropoda, September 1, 2010.