Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Reptilia
Subclass Diapsida
Superorder Dinosauria
Order Saurischia
Suborder Theropoda
Family Dromaeosauridae
Subfamily Dromaeosaurinae
Genus Deinonychus
1st Species Deinonychus antirrhopus
Other attributes
Time Range 115-108 mya
Location United States of America
Name Meaning Terrible claw
Physical Dimensions 3.3 meters long
Weight 74 kilograms
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Deinonychus is a dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of the United States of America. It was named in 1969 by John Ostrom. It was a very important discovery, as it helped fuel a new age of dinosaur perception.


Deinonychus was a theropod with a sleek body, moderately long legs, a long tail, long arms with 3 fingers on each hand, a moderately long neck, and a long head with a mouth containing lots of teeth. Like its semi-close cousin, Velociraptor, each second toe on its foot was held off the ground, and brandished a large, sickle-shaped claw; as well as this, its eye sockets were placed near the front of its head, allowing for binocular vision. Most of its body (excluding some of its legs and all of its snout) would have been covered in long, vaned feathers.


Deinonychus was a predator, preying on small mammals, small to midsized ornithischians, and smaller theropods. Its teeth had knife-like serrations from back to back, and its sickle claw was used for stabbing larger prey and restraining smaller prey.


Like other dromaeosaurids, Deinonychus is often said to be a really fast runner, and is said to be able to pursue prey into exhaustion; however, it has been found out that its lower leg was a little shorter than its upper leg, and that it actually was slower than previously thought, needing to ambush prey in order to get an advantage over them. Fortunately, it was able to ambush well, as its forward-facing eyes would have allowed it to have good binocular vision. When hunting smaller prey, it would rush up to a prey item before pinning it to the ground with its sickle claw and tearing chunks of flesh off its body while it was still alive. Due to a massive bonebed containing multiple Deinonychus individuals situated around a single Tenontosaurus, we can assume that the raptors hunted in packs in order to take down herbivores like these; however, while pack-hunting is suitable for almost any carnivorous theropod, these bonebeds actually show that the theropods descended into a feeding frenzy and cannibalized their younger brethren, very similarly to modern reptiles such as crocodiles and Komodo dragons.

In popular cultureEdit

Since its discovery, Deinonychus has fuelled a great period of time for paleontology in the 90s: the famed Dinosaur Renaissance of 1970. During this period of time, all of science had started to see dinosaurs in a new light, and they were no longer perceived as the slow, lethargic reptilian giants everyone thought them to be during the early 90s; instead, they were starting to be seen as fast-moving, warm-blooded avian creatures. In fact, Deinonychus was so popular at the time that two years later, it would be incorporated into the production of the influential science fiction movie Jurassic Park, where it would serve as the basis for the appearance of another, soon-to-be-popular theropod: the dreaded Velociraptor.

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