James Kirkland, Rob Gaston, and Don Burge discovered Utahraptor in 1993 in Grand County, Utah, within the Cedar Mountain Formation. The type specimen is currently housed at the College of Eastern Utah, although Brigham Young University currently houses the largest collection of Utahraptor fossils.
The type species (and only known species of Utahraptor), Utahraptor ostrommaysi, was named for the American paleontologist John Ostrom, from Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History, and Chris Mays, of Dinamation International. Sculptor Raymond Persinger was included in James Kirkland's original abstract referencing Mr. Persinger's concepts regarding the claw structure.
Like other dromaeosaurids, Utahraptor had a huge curved claw on the second toe that could grow to long. The animal may have grasped its prey with its forelimbs while kicking with its hindlimbs. Recent tests on reconstructions of the smaller Velociraptor suggest that claws of this type were used for stabbing or suffocating its prey, not slashing into their hide. Up to long, tall, and in weight, Utahraptor would have been a formidable predator.