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Velociraptor
Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Reptilia
Subclass Diapsida
Superorder Dinosauria
Order Saurischia
Suborder Theropoda
Family Dromaeosauridae
Subfamily Velociraptorinae
Genus Velociraptor
1st Species Velociraptor mongoliensis
2nd Species Velociraptor osmolskae
Other attributes
Time Range 84-71 mya
Location Mongolia
Name Meaning Swift thief
Physical Dimensions 2.6 meters long
Weight 35 kilograms
Dietary Classification Carnivore
Velociraptor is a dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia. It was named in 1924 by Henry Fairfield Osborn. It is the 2nd most famous theropod to exist (after the Tyrannosaurus), as well as one of the most studied.

PhysiologyEdit

Velociraptor was a bipedal dinosaur with a slender body, moderately long legs, a long tail, long arms with 3 fingers on each hand, a moderately long neck, and a long, bird-like head with a mouth containing lots of teeth. An interesting thing to note is that on its feet, each second toe was held off the ground, and brandished a large, sickle-shaped claw (the first toe, like that of other bipedal dinosaurs, was just a simple dewclaw); as well as this, unlike most other theropods (bipedal, mainly carnivorous dinosaurs), 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.

DietEdit

Velociraptor was a predator, preying mainly on small mammals, lizards, and smaller theropods, but also subsisting on protoceratopsids from time to time. Its teeth had knife-like serrations from back to back, and its sickle claw was used for stabbing larger prey and restraining smaller prey.

EcologyEdit

Contrary to popular belief, Velociraptor wasn't really fast, as its lower leg was shorter than its upper leg; due to this, it had to ambush prey in order to get an advantage, rather than pursue them until they tired. Even though it was most able to overpower animals like Byronosaurus, Saurornithoides, and Oviraptor and prey on them with ease, it also relied on scavenging carcasses of larger animals (like Protoceratops and mid-sized pterosaurs) and even cannibalizing smaller members of its species for sustenance; when hunting, 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. A particularly famous discovery shows a Velociraptor locked in combat with a Protoceratops (with the ceratopsian biting the raptor's arm and the raptor stabbing it in the neck with its sickle claw), which provides direct evidence that Velociraptor was an active predator capable of hunting big game; however, Protoceratops was generally heavier and much more powerful than Velociraptor, so the raptor's attack on the small ceratopsian was most likely out of desperation. A comparison of its sclerotic rings to those of modern reptiles and birds indicates that it was nocturnal; since Protoceratops was cathemeral, this attack could have happened just a few hours after the sun went down.

In popular cultureEdit

Velociraptor was first introduced to the public in the 1993 science fiction movie, Jurassic Park, where its appearance is based on the larger Deinonychus, and it is oversized to a height of 1.3 meters at the hip (the real animal was only 0.7 meters tall), portrayed with scaly skin, described as being able to run 40 mph (based on outdated speculation), depicted as a ruthless pack hunter willing to chase humans over extreme distances in an attempt to capture and brutally murder them, and characterized as so intelligent that it could even open doors and silently stalk frightened children through dark kitchens. This depiction has become extremely popular to the point of evolving into a meme, and has been perpetuated in every sci-fi/action/horror film containing Velociraptor; in many (egregious) cases, the dromaeosaur is also given the ability to kill prey the size of a Brontosaurus with nothing but its famed sickle claw. Many documentaries, such as Chased by Dinosaurs and The Truth about Killer Dinosaurs, tend to portray it as smaller in size, less murderous, and more animalistic (although always willing to take a bite out of a Protoceratops whenever hungry); in fact, some documentaries even tend to go away from the trend of making it scaly, and portray it with a coat of feathers (although said feathering is not entirely accurate most of the time).

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