What were the maniraptorans?
The maniraptorans (Maniraptora, or “hand snatchers”) were a clade of coelurosaurian dinosaurs that included the birds and dinosaurs most closely related to birds. They are defined as all dinosaurs closer to birds than the ornithomimosaurs. In fact, many paleontologists believe birds came from maniraptorans, evolving from this group during the Jurassic period.
The maniraptorans were a very diverse group and looked at first glance to be totally unrelated. However, they all shared some common characteristics that made them part of this group. The maniraptorans included the dromaeosaurids, troodontids, therizinosaurs (or segnosaurs), oviraptorosaurs, and, more recently, the aves (birds).
All of the maniraptorans shared the following general characteristics: a curved bone (semilunate carpal) in the wrist, a fused collar bone (clavicle) and breast bone (sternum), long arms, a hand (manus) larger than the foot (pes), a pubis (pelvic bone) that pointed downwards, and a shortened tail that was stiffened toward the end.