Thomas R. Holtz Jr.

Thomas Richard Holtz Jr., Ph.D. (born 1965 in Los Angeles) is an American vertebrate palaeontologist and senior lecturer at the University of Maryland's Department of Geology.[1] He has published extensively on the phylogeny, morphology, ecomorphology, and locomotion of terrestrial predators, especially on tyrannosaurids and other theropod dinosaurs.[1] He wrote the book Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages and is the author or co-author of the chapters "Saurischia",[2] "Basal Tetanurae",[3] and "Tyrannosauroidea"[4] in the second edition of The Dinosauria. He has also been consulted as a scientific advisor for the Walking With Dinosaurs BBC series.

He is also the director of the Science and Global Change Program within the College Park Scholars living-learning community at the University of Maryland, College Park.


Holtz has come up with several new theories and hypotheses about the dinosaurs' classification. For example, he coined the terms Maniraptoriformes and Arctometatarsus. He also proposed two classification systems for theropods. The first is the clade Arctometatarsalia, made up of tyrannosauroids, ornithomimosaurs, and troodontids, because all of these coelurosaurs had pinched middle metatarsal bones in their feet. In this proposed classification system, the tyrannosauroids were supposedly basal to a clade known as Bullatosauria, which was made up of the Troodontidae and the Ornithomimosauria. These two groups were purported to form a clade, because they both shared a common characteristic; which was a skull capsule. However, later on, both of these classification systems were found to be paraphyletic, or "artificial", clades. For example, troodontids are now known to be deinonychosaurs, or "raptors", closely related to dromaeosaurids and birds. The discovery of basal tyrannosauroids, such as Guanlong, which lacked an arctometatarsus, also helped to disprove this theory. And, eventually, the "skull capsule" in troodontids and ornithomimosaurs was found to be an example of convergent evolution, causing the clade Bullatosauria to be abandoned.

Holtz was also a key figure in the discovery that tyrannosauroids were not carnosaurs, as had been previously believed by most palaeontologists, but rather large coelurosaurs. By being one of the very first scientists to theorise this, Holtz contributed greatly to the debunking of a monophyletic Carnosauria.

Selected publications


  1. 1 2 Holtz, Thomas R. Holtz Jr..
  2. "Saurischia", pp. 21–23, with H. Osmólska
  3. "Basal Tetanurae", pp. 71–110, with R. E. Molnar, P. J. Currie
  4. "Tyrannosauroidea", pp. 111–136.


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