VELOCIRAPTOR

a small but mighty dinosaur

When you think about the Velociraptor you have probably got a good picture in your mind as to what a Velociraptor looks like…right? Unless you have been sleeping under a rock for the last 10-15 Years, we have all seen how the Velociraptor is portrayed in the Jurassic Park films. A lean, mean killing machine hunting in packs taking out anything that moves. Well, we are sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Velociraptor did not actually look like they did in the movies… sorry.

The Velociraptor you have seen on the big screen is based on the lesser famous Deinonychus. If you would like to read more about Deinonychus that inspired the terrifying look of the Velociraptor you can here.

Let’s dive in and go into a little more detail about Velociraptor, probably one of the most popular (but greatly misrepresented) dinosaurs.

Velociraptor

Fred Wierum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

STRANGE LOOKING DINOSAUR

Velociraptor was a very strange looking Dinosaur. Almost like a large ‘bird of prey’ but completely flightless. It had plenty of feathers, (more on this later) which ran all the way down its tail.

Velociraptor didn’t have a beak however, just a short and powerful jaw packed full of razor-sharp teeth.

Velociraptor was grouped with several other dinosaurs who had a similar foot structure. They were given the nickname ‘terrible claw’. The reason Velociraptor and others’ close relations were given this nickname was due to the size of its second toe on both feet.

Quick Velociraptor Facts

NameVelociraptor “swift seizer” in Latin
First Found:August 11th 1923, Peter Kaisen
When it lived:Cretaceous period, 68 – 66 Million years ago
Weight:20kg
Length2.07m long and  0.50m -0.75m in height
Diet:Carnivore, meat
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD FACT SHEET

NICKNAMED ‘TERRIBLE CLAW’

On each foot Velociraptor had one large, razor sharp claw roughly 8cm or 3 inches long. It is believed that Velociraptor would have used this giant claw as its primary way of hunting, using it to great effect, using it to stab at its prey.

This large claw was thin and curved almost like sickle and would have been covered by a bony sheath like a nail. When this large claw was not being used it is thought that it was probably held out of the way in an upright position. Keeping two toes on the ground at all times kept the large claw razor sharp and up off the ground preventing it from becoming blunt. Keeping its ‘terrible claw’ in an upright position allowed Velociraptor to be ready for the next attack.

When Velociraptor attacked its prey, it would have kicked out strongly towards its prey, stabbing it, then flicking its claw downward on its toe joint allowing Velociraptor to grip its prey firmly, like the way modern birds of prey grasp onto their prey today.

Jaime A. Headden (User:Qilong), CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Velociraptor had feathers

In 2007, an exciting discovery was made. A Velociraptor fossil was discovered which clearly showed the presence of quill knobs. This on a Velociraptor fossil proved that Velociraptor had long feathers attaching from its second finger and up its arms.

This discovery of this fossil blew palaeontologists minds (and quite rightly so) as this dinosaur fossils depicted so much fine detail, allowing what palaeontologists had hypotheses for years to be finally proven correct.

Despite Velociraptor having all the feathers in the right places, and even its wing-like arms, it still wasn’t able to fly. Why…? It was just too big. There were also a few other finer pieces of detail as to why Velociraptor couldn’t fly, first up was its wishbone.

Velociraptor wishbone isn’t too dissimilar to that of birds found today. However, Velociraptors wishbone just wasn’t quite the right shape required to support wing movements. The effortless flapping of wings that birds do so gracefully just could not be performed by this Dinosaur. 

not capable of flight

Furthermore, due to Velociraptors small arms the wings on these tiny arms just weren’t big enough to elevate it off the ground. Which also decreased the likelihood that Velociraptor couldn’t even glide using its wings.

One final point regarding the Velociraptors feathers before we move on, but it’s important to note is that Velociraptors feathers were symmetrical compared to modern birds who have asymmetrical feathers.

So, we now know that Velociraptor was completely flightless. Palaeontologists believe that the feathers were used for nothing more than display purposes and even perhaps to maintain body heat.

Velociraptor developed feathered wings

Fred Wierum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How big was Velociraptor?

As we’ve mentioned earlier Velociraptor wasn’t anything like the depiction in the famous Jurassic park films.

Velociraptor was actually pretty small in comparison and was classed as ‘a mid-sized dromaeosaurid’.

Fully grown it could be up to 2.07m long and around 0.50m -0.75m in height and could weigh as much as 20kg.

How big was Velociraptor

Matt Martyniuk, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Who discovered Velociraptor?

On August 11th 1923, Peter Kaisen discovered the first Velociraptor fossil known to science.

Velociraptor was the first dromaeosaurid to be discovered and is still the most well-known to scientists and palaeontologists, due to several incredibly detailed skeletons being found and studied extensively since its discovery.

WHEN DID VELOCIRAPTOR LIVE?

Cretaceous period, 68 – 66 Million years ago and lived around the Mongolia-China border.

WHAT DID VELOCIRAPTOR EAT?

Velociraptor was a carnivorous theropod. It is also thought that it would have hunted larger prey in packs. In 2010 and 2012 two scientific papers were produced that hypothesised that Velociraptor was also a scavenger, meaning that it would eat animals that had died or had been killed by another much larger predator such as the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Palaeontologists have discovered several fossils that showed teeth marks on bones of other much larger dinosaurs that were made by the teeth of a Velociraptor, and bones of azhdarchid have also been found in Velociraptor guts.

fighting dinosaurs fossil discovery

One of the most famous Velociraptor fossils ever discovered was the “Fighting Dinosaurs” fossil found in 1971. The incredible discovery showed that Velociraptor died gripping the head of Protoceratops.

It likely would have been kicking out viciously against the Protoceratops body with its sharp claws, slashing deeper with every kick killing the Protoceratops. However, Protoceratops may have crushed the Velociraptor chest with its powerful head causing fatal internal injuries.

Locked together, both dinosaurs died. It is thought that both the Velociraptor and Protoceratops died around 80 million years ago in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia.

Yuya Tamai from Gifu, Japan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

HOW DID BOTH DINOSAURS DIE?

As Palaeontologists unearthed more of the dinosaurs there were four key clues that this was a fight to the death.

  1. Velociraptors hooked toe claw was in or around the area of the stomach of Protoceratops.
  2. Velociraptors other hooked toe claw was around the Protoceratops throat area
  3. Velociraptors arms and claws were gripped hold of the Protoceratops neck frill.
  4. Protoceratops had caught hold of one of Velociraptors arms in its sharp beak.

Both dinosaurs were roughly around 2m long. Velociraptor as we’ve described in this article was a fantastic hunter and well equipped to take down its prey.

Protoceratops was a peaceful herbivore (plant eater) however if it was attacked it would have used its sharp beak as a bone crushing weapon, along with its head to ram its attacker.

EXTREMELY RARE FIND

Only two fossils of dinosaurs fighting each other have been found in recent years. Normally fossils of dinosaurs such as the Velociraptor have been found alone. These tell Palaeontologists a great deal about the animal including; where it lived, size and what it looked like.

However, when Palaeontologists discover a fossil of two dinosaurs fighting each other it can provide even more in-depth detail of how they attacked and defended themselves.

Other fossils have been discovered that could show evidence that Protoceratops was very defensive if provoked, particularly when protecting its young. A skeleton of an Oviraptor was found lying on top of a nest filled with eggs belonging to Protoceratops.

Palaeontologists believe that this ‘egg thief’ was caused red handed (or red clawed) whilst raiding Protoceratops nest, and then killed by a rather angry Protoceratops parent.

Similar dinosaurs to Velociraptor

Deinonychus

Here at dinosaurgeek.com Deinonychus is one of our favourite dinosaurs, mainly because the Velociraptor was based on the size and shape of Deinonychus in the iconic Jurassic Park films.

You can read more on the magnificent Deinonychus here.

Deinonychus

Fred Wierum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Buitreraptor

Buitreraptor was a rather small dinosaur in comparison to its much larger Deinonychus. Buitreraptor is thought to have been around 1.5 metres long and weighed around 3kg.

The best way to think about Buitreraptor is like a large flightless bird. Even though Buitreraptor was classed as dromaeosaurs dinosaur it looked completely different not only in size but also in its key features.

The most notable difference was that Buitreraptor head and jaw area were completely different to that of say Velociraptor.

Buitreraptor reconstruction drawing by IMAGE SOURCE

So, let’s start from the top and work our way down the body of Buitreraptor. To start with Buitreraptor snout was slender and elongated. Buitreraptor teeth were also completely different when compared to other jaws of similar dinosaurs.

Its jaw was still full of little teeth which were much smaller as you’d expect, however the most notable difference was that Buitreraptor teeth didn’t have the same serrated edges for tearing meat, and in fact were strongly recurved and flattened.

From studies carried out on fossil remains of Buitreraptor scientists hypothesized that Buitreraptor was still a hunter, but of much smaller prey such as lizards and other smaller mammals. It simply wasn’t geared up to tackle large prey.

Buitreraptor still had the famous curved second claw found on its second toe on its feet, but obviously much smaller than that found on Velociraptor and Deinonychus.

Another interesting fact about Buitreraptor is that it had the longest arms of any dromaeosaurids and with three long fingers, which may have helped it hold onto its small prey.

Palaeontologists have not discovered any fossils that show Buitreraptor with feathers, however with so much scientific evidence to show that other dromaeosaurids such as Velociraptor did have feathers, it’s a well calculated theory that Buitreraptor would have also had feathers.

Microraptor

As the name suggests Microraptor was, well, micro. Fossils of Microraptor would suggest that it was around 77 centimetres long (0.7m) and weighed around 1kg.

Microraptor was among the smallest-known non-avian dinosaurs. What does that mean I hear you ask? Well, Microraptor was basically just a viscous turkey and like turkeys couldn’t fly.

Microraptor had all the elements that should have meant it was capable of flight, but unfortunately it couldn’t.

Microraptor

Fred Wierum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Microraptor may have been able to glide as it wasn’t too heavy, but elevation from a standing start probably wasn’t possible. Aside from their extremely small size when compared to Velociraptor this little dinosaur was still a hugely important discovery as it was the first non-avialan dinosaur discovered which clearly had feathers and wings.

Furthermore, Microraptor is the one of the only dinosaurs ever discovered to have flight feathers on the legs as well as the wings as well as a fan of feathers in a diamond shape found at the end of its tail, which scientists believe would have been used for stability when gliding.

This can be seen in modern day birds of prey such as the ‘Red Kite’ have a distinct diamond shape for stability in flight.

Microraptor habits weren’t too dissimilar from Buitreraptor in terms of hunting and prey, and of course had the famous curved second claw found on its second toe on its feet.

Summary of Velociraptor

  • Velociraptor did not actually look like they did in the Jurassic Park movies
  • Velociraptor was grouped with several other dinosaurs who had a similar foot structure. They were given the nickname ‘terrible claw’.
  • On each foot Velociraptor had one large, razor sharp claw roughly 8cm or 3 inches long.
  • In 2007, an exciting discovery was made. A Velociraptor fossil was discovered which clearly showed the presence of quill knobs.
  • Due to Velociraptors small arms the wings on these tiny arms just weren’t big enough to elevate it off the ground.
  • Velociraptor live in the Cretaceous period around the Mongolia-China border.
  • In 2010 and 2012 two scientific papers were produced that hypothesised that Velociraptor was also a scavenger.
  • Fully grown it could be up to 2.07m long and around 0.50m -0.75m in height and could weigh as much as 20kg.
  • On August 11th 1923, Peter Kaisen discovered the first Velociraptor fossil known to science.
  • Velociraptor was actually pretty small in comparison and was classed as ‘a mid-sized dromaeosaurid’.
  • Velociraptor was a carnivorous dinosaur feeding on X YZ. It is also thought that it would have hunted larger prey in packs.
  • The Velociraptor you have seen on the big screen is based on the lesser famous Deinonychus.

Last Updated on 28/04/2021 by admin