Temporal range: Early Jurassic
|An artist's illustration of Dracovenator regenti|
| †Dracovenator regenti|
Dracovenator was a dilophosaur from South Africa. It resembles Dilophosaurus and Zupayasaurus
Dracovenator is estimated to have measured between 5.5 and 6.5 meters (18 and 21 ft) in length. Others estimates suggest that Dracovenator was at best 7 m (23 ft) long and weighed 400 kilograms (882 pounds) at most. The holotype specimen, consists of both premaxillae, a fragment of the maxilla, two dentaryfragments, a partial surangular bone, a partial angular bone, a partial prearticularbone, an articular bone, and several teeth. Dracovenator has a kink in its upper jaws, between the maxilla and the premaxilla. The back end of the lower jaw features an array of lumps and bumps, a condition seen in Dilophosaurus, but to a much smaller extent. Munyikwa and Raath (1999) reassigned paratype BP/1/5278, which was originally assigned to Syntarsus rhodesiensis, to Dracovenator, a juvenile specimen which consists of bones from the front of the skull, teeth, and jaw bones.
Yates (2005) assigned Dracovenator to the clade Neotheropoda.The first cladisticanalysis found that this genus formed a clade with the basal theropods Dilophosaurus and Zupaysaurus. The skull of the type specimen, exhibits a mosaic of both ancestral and derived theropod characteristics. The following cladogram, based on the phylogenetic analysis conducted by Smith, Makovicky, Pol, Hammer, and Currie in 2007, outlines the relationships of Dracovenator and its close relatives:
Distinguishing anatomical features
A diagnosis is a statement of the anatomical features of an organism (or group) that collectively distinguish it from all other organisms. Some, but not all, of the features in a diagnosis are also autapomorphies. An autapomorphy is a distinctive anatomical feature that is unique to a given organism.
According to Yates (2005) Dracovenator can be distinguished based on the following characteristics:
- the presence of a large bilobed fossa surrounding a large lateral premaxillary foramen that is connected to the alveolar margin by a deep narrow channel;
- a deep, oblique notch on the lateral surface of the articular bone, separating the retroarticular process from the posterior margin of the glenoid
- a particularly well-developed dorsal, tab-like processes on the articular bone-the first on the medial side, just posterior to the opening of the chorda tympanic foramen and the second on the lateral side on the anterolateral margin of the fossa for the m. depressor mandibulae.