Australovenator (meaning “southern hunter”) is a genus of megaraptorantheropoddinosaur from Cenomanian (Late Cretaceous)-age Winton Formation (dated to 95 million years ago) of Australia. It is the most complete predatory dinosaur discovered in Australia. Australovenator was estimated at 6 m long, with a body mass of 500 kilograms. Like other megaraptorans, Australovenator would have been a bipedal carnivore.
With very comprehensive and well-preserved hand and foot remains, Australovenator has been made a topic of various research papers studying the dynamics of theropod appendages. A 2015 study tested the range of motion of Australovenator’s arms using computer models and found that it had flexible arms, with the forearms capable of making an angle of 144 to 66 degrees with the humerus, an elbow range of motion similar to that of maniraptoriforms. Unusually, its radius could slide independently of the ulna when its arm was flexed, similar to that of birds but unlike most non-avian dinosaurs. However, the study also found that Australovenator’s fingers were capable of extension far beyond those of any other sampled theropod, with only Dilophosaurus having capabilities even near it. This study concluded that Australovenator’s flexibility, facilitated by a combination of traits in both primitive and advanced theropods, played a role in prey capture, giving it the ability to grasp prey towards its chest to make it easier for its weak jaws to disembowel food. The gracile morphology of the skull also concludes that this genus had a specialisation towards prey capture using its arms and hands.
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