The most common of the deinonychosaurs (with mattiraptors a close second), the draks are the unquestioned lords of virtually all medium-sized predator niches in Africa, Eurasia, and North America. Little different from their Cretaceous forebears, draks are often heavily-plumed and many bear the large teeth and relatively small sickle-claws that have lead some scholars to link them to Dromaeosaurus. However, other drak species lack these features, which may be convergent with this ancient predator. It should be noted that these species have not relationship to the real life species of dromaeosaur, Boreonykus. Their cries have been known to sound like "sea-gulls from hell".
Veldraks (genus Torvoraptor) are the dominant medium-sized predators of Europe, represented by three species. Torvoraptors are mostly solitary or pair-hunting predators. They range from 4 to 7 meters long, Torvoraptor robustus being the largest species. Torvoraptors are most abundant in the temperate zone, but some species also live in Arabia and Northest parts of Africa. Some species are fast runners while others specialize in stalking and raw force.
Matadrak (Torvoraptor inversus)
The matadrak (Torvoraptor inversus) is a veldrak of southern Europe, and also found in the Middle East and northermost Africa. Its relatives are also found in India. Matadrak is more lightly built than veldrak, though both reach the same length of 4 meters. However only matadrak females are this large, the males are usually 3 m long, or only slightly larger. The females also have colour patterns clearly different from the males.
The differences of the sexes however go further than that. While the female is a solitary hunter, matadrak males live in groups consisting usually from three to five males. The territories of females often overlap with the male's. There are rarely any violent disputes between males and females, but meetings of members of the same sex may lead into fights, even to death.
During the mating season the male groups compete for the attention of females. When a female matadrak chooses a group of males, the internal hierarchy of the group dictates which male gets to mate first (they do indeed all mate with the female). The female then stays with the male group (which protect their female from other males) until it is ready to lay it's eggs. When the eggs have been laid, the female leaves, and the males take up the task of brooding and protecting the eggs and rearing the young.
Cockadrak (Torvoraptor luisreyi)
The cockadrak (Torvoraptor luisreyi) is an Indian Torvoraptor species, approximately the same size as the European veldrak . The females live in small packs with their chicks and juveniles while the males form smaller loosely-knit groups elsewhere. When the mating season draws near, the male groups often break up as the males seek a female pack to call their own. The male then stays with the pack until the chicks have hatched to protect them form other males. Sometimes younger males stick together to better compete with a stronger single male. Even though only one of the males might get the right to mate with all the females, the others will still protect its progeny. Based on this behavior, cockadraks may be most closely related to the matadrak.
Veldrak (Torvoraptor lacerator)
The veldrak (Torvoraptor lacerator), after which the family has become commonly known, is a 4 m long predator that favours the cover of forests and often hunts alone within its own, marked territory. Veldraks are known to hunt large prey cooperatively, but usually they go after animals smaller or the same size as themselves. The colour of veldrak's feathers changes according to the season: during summer their plumage is light greenish brown and during winter mostly grey. The males and females are surprisingly similar, the only sure way to tell them apart are the yellow preorbital "horns" of the male.
Sildrak (Torvoraptor lacerator borealis)
The sildrak (Torvoraptor lacerator borealis) is a northern subspecies of veldrak with thicker plumage and pale grey feathers in winter. It is also reported to grow larger than the middle-European veldrak.
Hundrak (Barbarovenator robustus)
The hundrak (Barbarovenator robustus) is one of the largest Eurasian barbarovenators, large males reaching the length of 5 m. These hunters of the steppes are found mainly in the temperate zone, from central Europe to eastern Asia. Their main prey are formosicorns of different sizes from yales to brutons, though in Eastern Asia they are reported to occasionally hunt shambla young and even adults weakened by disease or age.
Hundraks are social, co-operative hunters unlike their closest relative, the drakhan. They are also somewhat more cursorial, though like all torvoraptoriformes, they rely mostly on stealth. Hundrak prides consist of up to ten females and usually one dominant male. Hundrak females lay all their eggs in the same nest, and take shifts in brooding and guarding the eggs.
Drakhan (Barbarovenator asiaticus)
The drakhan (Barbarovenator asiaticus) is the principal deinonychosaurian predator in South and East Asia. Several subspecies are found from Pakistan to northern China, and range from the 6,5 m long B. asiaticus aquilonius to the 4 m B. asiaticus sumatrensis. All drakhan species are solitary, and females allow males inside their territory only during the mating season. There is no evidence of co-operative hunting among drakhans, and the fact that drakhans and hundraks coexist in Westernmost Asia may be due to this difference in hunting method.
Drakhan is the other species in the controversial genus Barbarovenator (sometimes incorrectly referred to as "Barbaroraptor") which also includes the hundrak. These were originally classified within Boreonychidae, until DNA analysis seemed to place hundrak within Torvoraptor. There were several doubters, however, who claimed that the samples had to have been contaminated and demanded the tests to be repeated, and drakhan be included in the analysis as well. The new DNA analysis not only proved Barbarovenator to be a valid genus, but also placed it genetically between Torvoraptor and the recently extinct Fennonychus, to the great relief of spectaxonomists.
Obake (Barbarovenator asiaticus japonicus)
This very small subspecies of Drakhan is native to the island of Japan, growing no bigger than roughly 3 meters long. Even so, it is the largest predator on the island. Unlike their mainland relatives, these small predators usually live solitary lives, minus the exception of the mating season.
American Drakhan (Barbarovenator ohioensis)
Smaller than its Asian relative, the American Drakhan was once an abundant creature through out most of North America's northern regions during the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs, but know they are reduced down to a few areas in North America, most notably the Flame Forest. Growing up to 3 meters long, it is without a doubt dwarfed by its larger Asian cousin. However, these pack hunters are not to be underestimated at all. Adolescents meander from the more open oak savannahs further south. Adults on the other hand spend the rest of their lifespans in the Flame Forest.
Baghirua (Pardalodraco agilis)
The predatory drak of the area, only second to the Drakkhan in prowess is the Baghirua (Pardalodraco agilis), also known as the Bagheedrak. The size of an emu, and gracefully adept at slipping through the trees, like black quicksilver, it preys mainly on small hadrosaurs, hogfowl and smaller prey, and occasionally titanosaur young.
This group of Boreonychidae is more wide spread through out the northern regions of both Eurasia and North America, though some species have spread to the warmer regions of North America as well. One noticeable difference between this group and the Torvoraptorinae is the amount of feathers the groups have. Members of the Boreonychinae family have a thicker layer of feathers to help them thirve
Fendrak (Boreonychus grassator)
The fendrak (Boreonychus grassator) is a boreonychid well adapted to the freezing temperatures of the North Eurasian and American winters. Its 3.5-meter body is completely covered in insulating feathers from the tip of the snout to toes to the tip of the tail. Fendraks aren't strictly speaking pack-hunters but they live in loose communities and sometimes co-operatively bring down large animals such as mooras or dorsas.
Fendraks lay one or two eggs in the spring, usually at the same time as the therizinosaurs begin nesting. Fendraks themselves don't build nests but brood the eggs in special brooding pouches situated under their arms. Brooding is usually left to the male while the female hunts and feeds him. If the male has died the female can also brood the eggs but is in danger of starving. In such cases other fendraks have been known to bring food to such "single mothers" if prey is plentiful. (This behavior isn't entirely altruistic as the feeders are usually closely related to the brooder.
Polar Drak (Boreonychus albipluma)
The polar drak (Boreonychus albipluma) evolved from the same basal stock as veldraks (Torvoraptor), but is more closely related to the fendrak. It isn't much of a runner, but it has adapted to life on the arctic ice sheet. A thick white plumage covers its whole body except for the tip of the snout and the webbing between its toes.
Boreonychus is the one of the best swimmers among modern theropods, because it often has to cross large bodies of water to get to its prey. Polar draks most usually hunt for seaguins and sea parrots, which they stalk by waiting near their breathing holes, waiting for the prey to come up. The arms of polar draks are remarkably long and powerful, as they may have to use them to pull animals as big as the sea parrot on the ice.Boreonychids originated in Eurasia and crossed over the Bering during the Ice Age. By the present day, they have succeeded in pushing out most of North America's endemic deinonychosaurs (the hesperonychids) and now occupy most small predator niches on this continent, though only a few hesperonychids thrive in North America while seeing much more success in South America.
Greater Interior Drak (Paraboreonychus americensis)
The greater interior drak (Paraboreonychus americensis) is a fleet-footed predator that hunts the alpine forests of western North America. Although superficially similar to other New World hesperonychid deinonychosaurs, the drak and its relatives (the tundrak, lesser barrier island drak, pecos drak, stripetailed drak and the eastern drak) are actually the descendants of a Eurasian group of deinonychosaurs, which migrated to North America during the Ice Age. The greater interior drak lives in a comfortably temperate climate, but its polar ancestry is still visible as a covering of down on the animal's toes and fingers.
Pecos Drak (Paraboreonychus horridus)
There is a second species of American drak, the pecos drak (Paraboreonychus horridus) which is much smaller, inhabits the great plains. Despite their small size, they specialize in hunting small hmungos, singers, and the viriosaurs in the area. Sexual dimorphism is documented with males having yellow-colored head while the females have a gray-colored head.
Lesser Barrier Island Drak (Aviphagus gracilis)
The genus Aviphagus includes two species, both of which are confined to wetland habitats in the barrier island chains found off the coast of Eastern North America. These islands are important resting and feeding locations for migrating shorebirds. The draks breed during the height of the migration, during which time they feed almost exclusively on birds (their diet is highly varied during the rest of the year). It is most likely due to this diet of birds that Aviphagus has evolved extremely long teeth, see image of the Lesser Barrier Island drak, (Aviphagus gracilis) center. These long, narrow teeth are important in getting a firm hold on struggling birds through their thick plumage.
Quamatadrak (Paraboreonychus miniraptor)A small, but primitive species of the genus Paraboreonychus with some interesting history when compared to likes of the Polar Drak. Like its ancestor, Boreonychus albipluma, it has retained the small killing claw, rather than re-develop it as the Paraboreonychus americensis has done. Just like the Polar Drak, these small creatures can be found in Northern North America.
- Matti Aumala, Daniel Bensen, and Michael Habib