Have you heard of the dinosaur that was named the ‘Speedy Thief’? Or perhaps, the dinosaur that was considered to be more intelligent than its peers, an A grader of some sorts in the school of dinosaurs? Well, we’re talking about the protagonist of this post, the Velociraptor, which was a type of dromaeosaurid dinosaur. While the movie Jurassic Park might have sparked widespread awareness of these critters, it lay forth a few misconceptions which need to be cleared out right away. What are we talking about, you ask?
Read on to find out!
- Velociraptor, pronounced as ‘vell-os-eeraptor’ is considered to be a bird-like dinosaur which comes from two Latin words meaning “speed” and “robber”!
- Known to be a formidable predator, Velociraptors were small and quick with a large brain that contributed towards agility.
- Velociraptors roamed the earth during the end of the Cretaceous period which was roughly around 71 million years ago and thrived in hot, desert-like regions.
- A fully-grown Velociraptor could weigh up to 15kg (33lb) and grow up to 2m(6.6ft) in length, 0.5m(1.6ft) in height at the hip, which is bigger than the size of the common chimpanzee.
- Velociraptors had four claws on each foot with a sickle-shaped talon on the second toe of each foot, used as hooks to keep their prey from escaping. Velociraptors used their claws as razor-sharp weapons to kill their prey while their tails were made up of hard fused bones, which most likely kept it balanced as it ran, hunted and jumped.
- Just as you walk on two legs, Velociraptors did too, walked on two legs and could run almost 40 miles an hour for short distances. Now, that’s much faster than you can run, but just a little slower than a greyhound running at full speed.
- Try imagining a dinosaur looking bird with feathers- that’s a velociraptor for you! Palaeontologists discovered quill knobs- places where flight-related feathers of birds are anchored to the bone, on a well-preserved Velociraptor forearm from Mongolia in 2007, indicating that Velociraptors had feathers and were warm-blooded. A special bone in its wrist, allowed it to swivel sideways in a flapping motion and fold its arm against its body like a bird. This is an important part of the flight stroke in modern birds.
- Interestingly, the first Velociraptor fossil was found in August 1923 by Peter Kaisen at the first American Museum of Natural History expedition to the Outer Mongolian Gobi Desert. Henry Field Osborne, who was the then president of the American Museum of Natural History, incidentally, named the dinosaur Velociraptor. He bestowed this name on the dinosaur from the Latin words “Velox” (swift) and “raptor” (robber), as an apt description of its agility and carnivorous diet.
- Moving on to fossils, the most famous fossil discovered comprises of a Velociraptor fighting a Protoceratops, which is a smaller plant-eating dinosaur, about the size of a large sheep. That’s quite the vivid description, now isn’t it?
- Specimens from two species have been found both in Mongolia – namely, Velociraptor mongoliensis and Velociraptor osmolskae. Velociraptors belong to the Dromaeosaurid family which includes other small bird-like dinosaur species.
- Velociraptors were considered to be dinosaurs with brains larger in size when compared to species of the same size which hints at a superior intelligence. They were probably a bit smarter than rabbits but not quite as smart as cats and dogs. There is evidence that Velociraptors moved together indicating group hunting which requires intelligence to hunt in packs.
- Velociraptors had a relatively large skull, which was about 9.1 inches (23cm) long, concave on the upper surface and convex on the lower surface. Additionally, its snout was long, narrow and shallow, and made up about 60 percent of the dinosaur’s entire skull length.
- Velociraptors had 13 to 15 teeth in its upper jaw and 14 to 15 teeth in its lower jaw which were widely spaced and serrated, though more strongly on the back edge than the front. They had teeth which were sharp like pointy knives and special four-inched curved claws, that was used as a fork to stab and slash their food.
- Velociraptors were carnivores (meat eaters) and would usually scavenge kills by larger dinosaurs, or hunt by themselves. Much of their time was spent eating smaller animals such as reptiles, amphibians, insects, small dinosaurs and mammals. Nimble and small, its speed would have been an added advantage.
- The first thought that rings in one’s mind when the sound of the word dinosaur makes its way to the eardrum is the movie, Jurassic Park. Did you know that the Velociraptor played a substantial role in this movie but was often displayed inaccurately? The Velociraptor was displayed as larger, human-sized dinosaurs but in reality, they were the size of a turkey. Additionally, they are believed to have had feathers that were not portrayed in the movie. Talk about misrepresentation, right!
- At the end of the Cretaceous period, Velociraptors were wiped out along with all of the other dinosaurs. Known as the K-T Extinction event caused by an asteroid strike, over seventy-five percent of all earth’s species became extinct during this time.
- The next time you find yourself watching a basketball tournament, look out for the mascot of the NBA team – Toronto Raptors. That’s right- it’s none other than the Velociraptor itself!
The winged flightless dinosaur that we have come to know as the Velociraptor sure has soared high in our expectations of dinosaurs and won us over in a matter of minutes. Wonder if it would say the same about us, humans eh?
|Diet||Carnivore (meat eater!)|
|Teeth||Lots of small, sharp and pointy teeth!|
|Movement||Bipedal (walked on two legs)|
|Lived||Late Cretaceous period, around 74-71million years ago|
|Found in||Mongolia, East Asia|