Revealing the Top 15 Dinosaurs With the Longest Claws

Leave a comment / / Updated on: 18th December 2023

An animal’s claw is one of its most formidable weapons or tools. 

It is useful for self-defense, killing prey, and, in the case of herbivores, for cropping vegetation. 

Burrowing animals also rely on their claws for digging; some even use claws as part of their mating display or rituals. 

The animal with the longest claws today is the giant armadillo, with a length of more than 20 centimeters. 

But even the giant claws of this heavily armored mammal are still small compared to the claws of some prehistoric animals like the Therizinosaurus

Clawed dinosaurs are fairly common in the fossil record. 

Most of them are theropods, and their massive claws serve a wide range of purposes. 

In this article, we’ll list 15 dinosaurs with the longest claws that we currently know of. 

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15. Oviraptor 

Life restoration of the Late Cretaceous oviraptorid Oviraptor
Life restoration of the Late Cretaceous oviraptorid Oviraptor – PaleoNeolitic – License
Name Meaning“Egg thief”
EraMesozoicLate Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
DietUncertain (omnivorous or herbivorous)
Height1.2 meters (4 feet)
Length1.5-2 meters (5-6.5 feet)
Weight20–30 kilograms (44–66 pounds)
LocationMongolia and China (Asia)

The Oviraptor was a small, feathered dinosaur with moderately long arms and prominent claws. 

The long claws of this dinosaur present on the three fingers measured at least 7.6 centimeters long on average. 

Oviraptor had no teeth in its jaws, so a meat-based diet is unlikely. 

It also isn’t clear if it ate plant materials exclusively and how it obtained its food. 

Because the exact nature of this dinosaur’s diet is unknown, it’s hard to tell what these claws were used for. 

Experts think they may have been useful for digging, and the Oviraptor may have used them to defend itself against predators. 

14. Mononykus

Mononykus | CoreyFord via Getty Images
Name Meaning“One-fingered”
EraMesozoic – Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
Height1 meter (3 feet)
Length2 meters (6 feet) 
Weight36 kg (80 pounds)
LocationMongolia (Asia)

The Mononykus didn’t just have long claws; they were also strange-looking. 

The forearms of this dinosaur were short and stubby. 

Although it had three claws, two of them were extremely reduced and vestigial.

The dinosaur had just one large claw that measured up to 7.5 centimeters. 

The name Mononykus, which means “one claw,” refers to this strange-looking claw. 

Mononykus lived in Asia about 70 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. 

This dinosaur was an insectivore, and the long claw was useful for breaking termite mounds to expose the insects it preyed on. 

13. Struthiomimus 

Struthiomimus | Photo via Dinopedia
Name Meaning“Ostrich Mimic”
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
Height2.1 meters (6.89 feet)
Length2.5 to 4 meters (8.2 to 13.12 feet)
Weight150 kilograms (330.7 lbs)
LocationCanada (North America), Mexico

Struthiomimus was a medium-sized, bird-mimic dinosaur (ornithomimid). 

It has a slender build and was most likely very agile. 

This dinosaur had long, dextrous arms with sharp claws on the end of the three digits. 

The claws of the second and third digits were straight, but the thumb claw, which was the biggest, was slightly curved. 

This claw was up to 12 centimeters long on average. 

The Struthiomimus used its claws to hold on to prey. 

They were also long and strong enough to inflict gaping wounds and hold down prey while feeding. 

Struthiomimus was not entirely carnivorous

It was an omnivore, which means it may have also used the claws to manipulate plant materials.

12. Gigantoraptor 

Life restoration of the giant Late Cretaceous Gigantoraptor erlianensis
Life restoration of the giant Late Cretaceous Gigantoraptor erlianensis -PaleoNeolitic – License
Name Meaning“Gigantic plunderer”
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
Height5–6 meters (16–20 feet) 
Length8 meters (26 feet) 
Weight1.5–2 tons (3,300–4,400 pounds)
LocationChina and Mongolia (China)

True to its name, the Gigantoraptor is the largest member of a family of bird-like dinosaurs known as the oviraptorosaurs. 

In fact, this dinosaur is up to 35 times heavier than Citipati, the previous record holder for the largest dinosaur in the family. 

This dinosaur also had long forelimbs and hindlimbs. 

The arms were armed with long dagger-like claws, which gave this dinosaur a fearsome appearance. 

This dinosaur is often described as a non-selective omnivore, meaning its diet would have included plant and animal materials. 

11. Deinonychus

famous dinosaurs
Deinonychus 3D illustration | Warpaintcobra via iStock
Name Meaning“Terrible claw”
EraMesozoic – Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria,‭ Saurischia & Theropoda
Height0.87 meters (2.9 feet)
Length3.3 meters (10.8 feet)
Weight60-73 kilograms (132-161 pounds)
LocationWyoming, Montana, Utah; North America

A less-popular but slightly bigger relative of the Velociraptor, Deinonychus lived in North America during the Early Cretaceous Period. 

When it was discovered in the 1960s, the enlarged raptorial claws on the feet of the Deinonychus were its most captivating attribute.

This, along with the agile nature of this dinosaur, sparked various debates in the world of paleontology about just how active dinosaurs were. 

On average, the Deinonychus’ sickle-shaped talons measured more than 12 centimeters (4.7 inches) long. 

The dinosaur itself was about three meters (10 feet) long and weighed up to 150 pounds on average. 

Although this dinosaur is not very well-known itself, the famous representation of the Velociraptor in the Jurassic Park movies was based on the size and body proportion of the Deinonychus and not that of the actual Velociraptor.  

10. Ornithomimus 

Gage Beasley Prehistoric's Ornithomimus Concept
Gage Beasley Prehistoric’s Ornithomimus Concept
Name Meaning“Bird Mimic”
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
Height2.4 meters (7.87 feet)
Length3.7 to 4 meters (12.14 to 13.12 feet)
Weight100 to 170 kilograms (220.46 to 374.79 lbs)
LocationNew Jersey, Mexico, Arizona, Canada

The Ornithomimus is the largest of the bird-mimic dinosaurs (ornithomimids) and one of the most well-known members of the group. 

This medium-sized feathered dinosaur looked a lot like an ostrich. 

One of the most distinctive features of the Ornithomimus was its claws. 

The fingers of this dinosaur’s hands were equipped with long, straight claws, which were probably useful for grasping tree branches to access leaves and fruits that formed the bulk of this dinosaur’s diet. 

An omnivorous diet is often suggested for the Ornithomimus, which means it probably ate small reptiles, mammals, insects, and other small animals in addition to its predominantly plant-based diet. 

9. Tyrannosaurus rex

Tyrannosaurus Rex
3D rendering of a Tyrannosaurus Rex | JoeLena via Istock
Name Meaning“Tyrant lizard”
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
Height4–6 meters (13–20 feet)
Length12–15 meters (40–50 feet)
Weight5–8 tons (11,000–18,000 lbs)
LocationUnited States and Canada (North America)

This iconic dinosaur is one of the largest terrestrial predators to have ever lived. 

Although this dinosaur’s powerful jaws and sharp teeth are its most potent weapon, it also had long, curved claws on its feet. 

Each foot had three digits, each ending in massive claws at least 22 centimeters long without the keratin sheet that covered them. 

The long claws of the Tyrannosaurus would have provided traction when walking or climbing surfaces. 

But they would have been most useful for fighting and for holding on to the body of dead prey while the dinosaur fed. 

The T-rex could also inflict deep wounds with its claws by slashing at prey with it. 

8. Utahraptor 

3D digital render of a Utahraptor - Vac1 via Istock
3D digital render of a Utahraptor – Vac1 via Istock
NameUtah Raptor
Name Meaning“Utah’s predator”
EraMesozoic – Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
Height1.5 m (4.9 ft)
Length4.9–5.5 m (16–18 ft)
Weight280–300 kg (617–661 lb)
LocationNorth America

With an estimated length of more than 16 feet, the Utahraptor is the largest dromaeosaurid dinosaur ever discovered. 

It lived in North America about 130 million years ago in the Early Cretaceous. 

As with other raptors, the large killing claws on the second toes of this dinosaur were one of its most notable features. 

The claws were larger and even more specialized as cutting blades than that of any other dromaeosaurids. 

Each claw was about 24 centimeters (9.4 inches) long and was covered in sharp keratin. 

Given the massive size of this dinosaur, it was not as agile as its other relatives, which suggests that it probably hunted prey using ambush and stealth. 

7. Megaraptor

Gage Beasley Prehistoric's Megaraptor Concept
Megaraptor was a formidable predator, with an estimated length of around 6 to 8 meters | NaturalWorldLover via NatureRules1 Wiki
Name Meaning“Giant thief‭”
EraMesozoic — Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
Height2.7 meters (8 feet)
Length8 meters (26 feet)
Weight1 ton (2,200 pounds)
LocationArgentina (South America) 

The Megaraptor was initially classified as a dromaeosaurid dinosaur when it was first discovered. 

This was because the only fossil of this dinosaur found at the time was a single claw, which measured about 30 centimeters. 

The sickle-shaped claw looked a lot like the foot claw of dromaeosaurids, such as the Utahraptor

New facts emerged in 2010 with the discovery of additional fossils, and the dinosaur was reclassified. 

The sickle claw of the Megaraptor is on the first finger of the dinosaur’s forearms instead of the foot, as is the case with the raptors. 

The Megaraptor was found to be a close relative of the tyrannosaurids, such as the Spinosaurus, but had a larger and more recurved claw compared to that of its relatives.  

6. Achillobator 

Life restoration of Achillobator.
Life restoration of Achillobator | PaleoNeolitic via Wikipedia CC BY 4.0
Name Meaning“Achilles hero”
EraMesozoic — Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
Height1.8 meters (6 feet)
Length6 meters (20 feet) 
Weight450 kilograms (1,000 pounds)
LocationMongolia (Asia)

This feathered dinosaur was a relative of the Velociraptor and other dromaeosaurid dinosaurs. 

It is one of this family’s largest members, almost the same size as the Utahraptor

Expectedly, the enlarged sickle-shaped claw on the Achillobator was also one of the largest of all its relatives. 

Achillobator prowled the plains of Mongolia during the Late Cretaceous Period. 

This dinosaur was an agile predator, and the recurved claw was useful for slashing at prey or defending itself. 

Achillobator had a robustly built skeleton compared to the typical light build of the dromaeosaurid dinosaurs. 

It was clearly not built for speed but was still capable of hunting large prey thanks to its massive claw.  

5. Spinosaurus 

Spinosaurus dinosaur on white background | Kitti Kahotong via iStock
Name Meaning“Spined lizard”
EraMesozoic – Cretaceous Period
ClassificationDinosauria, ‬Saurischia & Theropoda
Height4 to 5 meters (13 to 16 feet)
Length12 to 18 meters (39 to 59 feet)
Weight6 to 12 tons (13,000 to 26,000 pounds)

With a length of more than 40 feet, the Spinosaurus is the largest known terrestrial carnivore. 

Expectedly, the largest meat-eating dinosaur also had one of the longest claws of any dinosaur discovered so far. 

Unlike related theropods like the Tyrannosaurus, the forelimbs of the Spinosaurus were quite robust, and each hand had three digits. 

Each digit bore massive claws, with that of the first finger being the largest. 

The claws were between 17 and 30 centimeters (7–11 inches) long.

Spinosaurus was a unique theropod that spent part of its time on land. 

In addition to being a semi-aquatic theropod, this dinosaur’s diet was different too. 

It likely preyed on fish and other aquatic prey but was capable of hunting land animals living on the tidal plains of North Africa.  

4. Nothronychus

Life restoration of the therizinosaurid Nothronychus mckinleyi
Life restoration of the therizinosaurid Nothronychus mckinleyi – PaleoNeolitic – License
Name Meaning“Slothful claw”
EraMesozoic – Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia & Theropoda
Height3–3.6 meters (9.8–11.8 feet)
Length4.5–6 meters (14.7–20 feet) 
Weight800–1,000 kilograms (1,800–2,200 pounds)
LocationNorth America (USA and Canada)

The name Nothronychus translates as  “slothful claw,” and it refers to the sloth-like appearance of this dinosaur’s hip.

In addition to this, another notable feature of the Nothronychus was the relatively large, sharply pointed claws on its fingers.

Each claw measured about 30 centimeters (12 inches) and was slightly curved. 

The forearms of the Nothronychus were dextrous, which means they were probably used for digging or gathering plant material. 

Nothronychus was a herbivore, which is quite unusual for a theropod dinosaur. 

3. Baryonyx

Baryonyx ,dinosaur on white background Clipping path
Photo: Kitti Kahotong via iStock
Name Meaning“Heavy claw”
EraMesozoic – Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia & Theropoda
DietCarnivorous (Piscivorous)
Height2.5 meters (8.2 feet)
Length8–10 meters (26–33 feet)
Weight1–2 tons (2,000–4000 pounds)
LocationEngland, Spain (Europe) 

The Baryonyx was a Cretaceous dinosaur whose name translates as “heavy claw.”

This name references the massive claw on this dinosaur’s finger. 

The claw measured about 31 centimeters (12 inches) in length. 

The claw on the first finger of each forelimb was long like this, while the other claws were regular-sized. 

Baryonyx had a unique skull that looked more like a crocodilian’s skull than a typical dinosaur’s. 

It was the first dinosaur confirmed to have had a piscivorous (fish-eating) diet. 

This is evidenced by the presence of fish scales in the stomach content of this dinosaur. 

The long forelimbs and massive claws of this dinosaur were probably useful for catching its prey.

2. Deinocheirus 

Deinocheirus 3D render | elenarts108 via iStock
Name Meaning“Terrible Hand”
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria,‭ Saurischia & Theropoda
Height5 meters (16 feet)
Length11.0 m (36.0 ft)
Weight 6.5 tons (7.2 short tons)

This bizarre-looking dinosaur was a member of a family of dinosaurs known for their superficial similarities to modern birds (ornithomimosaurs). 

The dinosaur was named in 1970, based on the pair of massive arms, shoulder girdles, and a few other fragmentary fossils discovered in Mongolia. 

The name “Deinocheirus” means “horrible hand,” referring to the huge, curved claws on this dinosaur’s forelimbs. 

The Deinocheirus had the longest arm of any bipedal dinosaur, with a length of close to eight feet. 

At the end of this long arm was a long recurved claw that measured close to 0.2 meters (7.7 inches). 

Deinocheirus was predominantly herbivorous but probably ate fish and other small animals. 

1. Therizinosaurus 

Therizinosaurus cheloniformis | Liliya Butenko via iStock
Name Meaning“Scythe Lizard”
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia & Theropoda
Height4-5 meters (13-16 feet)
Length9-10 meters (30-33 feet)
Weight3-5 tons (3.3-5.5 short tons)
LocationMongolia (Asia)

The 70-million-year-old Therizinosaurus holds the record for the animal with the longest claw, both living and extinct. 

This dinosaur was discovered in 1954, but for many years after its initial discovery, only the massive claw and a few other fragmentary bones were known. 

The name Therizinosaurus translates as “scythe lizard,” and it refers to the long, scythe-shaped claws on all three digits of this dinosaur’s forearms. 

The claws were between 0.5 and one meter long. 

Although the massive claws of this dinosaur look like they were designed for ripping through flesh, their use is more similar to the agricultural tool they were named after. 

Therizinosaurus was most likely a herbivore, and the long claws were mainly used for grabbing and cutting vegetation. 


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