Velociraptor

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Velociraptor
Temporal range: Upper Cretaceous
Velociraptor.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Superorder: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Theropoda
(unranked): Coelurosauria
Family: Dromaeosauridae
Genus: Velociraptor
Species: V. mongoliensis
Binomial name
Velociraptor mongoliensis
Osborn, 1924
Lightweight skull of Velociraptor: its brain was tucked away at the back
of the skull.
Relative sizes

Velociraptor [1] was a predatory dromaeosaur of the Upper Cretaceous, about 75–71 million years ago.

It was a slender, lightly built carnivore. about two meters long (over six feet) and 0.62 meters tall at the hip, which is somewhat bigger than the size of a turkey.

Velociraptor had one sickle-shaped claw on its foot which measured 6.5 centimeters along its length, and a smaller one on each hand. Velociraptor was warm blooded and had feathers.

Fossils from China strongly suggest that the whole clade had similar traits.[2][3][4]

Fossils of Velociraptor were first found in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia in 1922. In 1988, scientists from China found Velociraptor skeletons in northern China.[5]

A famous Velociraptor, discovered in 1971, was found attacking a Protoceratops in a fossil from Mongolia.

Feathers[change | edit source]

In September 2007, researchers found quill knobs on the forearm of a Velociraptor found in Mongolia. These bumps on bird wing bones show where feathers anchor, and their presence on Velociraptor indicate it too had feathers.[6]

Turner and colleagues interpreted the presence of feathers on Velociraptor as evidence that the ancestors of dromaeosaurids could fly, making Velociraptor and other large members of this family secondarily flightless. This idea has since been discarded; the unmodified forearms count against it. Therefore, the feathers in the ancestors of Velociraptor had another function. The feathers of the flightless Velociraptor may have been used for display, for covering their nests while brooding.[2]

The majority view is that dinosaur feathers were primarily adaptations for temperature regulation, and that other uses came later. Velociraptor itself was too heavy to have flown.

Media[change | edit source]

Films such as Jurassic Park and some of the The Land Before Time films helped make Velociraptor popular. However, the raptors in Jurassic Park were far larger than the real thing. They were the size of Utahraptor, a really large member of the same clade. The films also exaggerate its probable intelligence.

Relevant pages[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Velociraptor = 'swift robber', sometimes called 'raptor' for short.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Milner, Angela 2002. Dinobirds: from dinosaurs to birds. Natural History Museum, London.
  3. Gee, Henry 2000. Deep time: cladistics, the revolution in evolution. Fourth Estate, London. Chapter 6 "The being and becoming of birds" is about the origin of birds.
  4. Benton M.J. et al. 2008. The remarkable fossils from the Early Cretaceous Jehol biota of China and how they have changed our knowledge of Mesozoic life. Proceedings of the Geological Association 119, p209–228.
  5. Dong Zhiming 1988. Dinosaurs from China. transl. Angela Milner, BM(NH)/China Ocean.
  6. Turner A.H.; Makovicky P.J.; Norell M.A. 2007. Feather quill knobs in the dinosaur Velociraptor. Science 317: 1721. PMID 17885130.