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Temporal range: Upper TriassicUpper Cretaceous (non-avian)
T. rex foot
Picture taken at Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Superorder: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Theropoda
Marsh, 1881
Specimen of the troodontid Jinfengopteryx elegans, with seeds preserved in the stomach region (not easy to see here)

Theropods ('beast foot') are a group of bipedal saurischian dinosaurs.

Although they were primarily carnivorous, a number of theropod groups evolved herbivory, omnivory and insectivory.[1]

Today, they are represented by the 9,300 living species of birds, which evolved in the Upper Jurassic from small feathered coelurosaurian dinosaurs.

Among the features linking theropods to birds are the three-toed foot, a furcula (wishbone), air-filled bones, feathers and brooding of the eggs.


Theropods first appear in the earliest part of the Upper Triassic about 230 million years ago. They were the sole large terrestrial carnivores from the Lower Jurassic until the close of the Cretaceous, about 65 million years ago.

The earliest and most primitive of the theropod dinosaurs were

Related pages


  1. Zanno L.E; Gillette D.D; Albright L.B. and Titus A.L. 2009. A new North American therizinosaurid and the role of herbivory in 'predatory' dinosaur evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Published online before print July 15, 2009, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2009.1029.