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Velociraptor – the speedy thief from Jurassic Park

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History

      Velociraptor represents a type of dromaesosaurid theropod dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous Period, about 71-55 million years ago.

Velociraptor,ferocious dinosaurus,speedy thief from Jurassic Park, strongly bent claws,intelligent raptor


      The very first Velociraptor fossil discovered in science was retrieved on 11 August 1923 by Peter Kaisen during the expedition of the American Museum of Natural History to the Outer Mongolian Gobi Desert. Although the skull was broke into pieces, it was actually complete and along with it came the second toe claws. Afterwards, in the year 1924, Henry Fairfield Osborn, the museum president, conceived the skull of this raptorial as well as the claws – which presumably belonged to the hand –, creating a new kind of specimen named Velociraptor. This particular name it’s a term of Latin origin in which the first letters “velox” means the word “swift” and “raptor” can be “robber” or “plunderer”, and they depict the speed of the dinosaurs and his diet method. The museum president put names to these specimens according to its native country, more precisely V. mongoliensis. Many fossils of Velociraptor have been discovered in the south of Mongolia, at the Gobi Desert as well as in the north part of China. There exist out there approximately a dozen Velociraptor fossils and all the species of V. magoliensis were found in the Djadochta (Djadokhta) Formation that’s located in Ömnögovi, a province of Mongolia.

Even though North American teams were restricted in Mongolia due to communism during the Cold War, Soviet scientists and Polish ones worked together with scientists from Mongolia, and held expeditions throughout which they discovered more species of the so-called Velociraptor. Furthermore, in 1971, during one of these expeditions, a team made between Polish and Mongolian scientists recovered the legendary fossils of two dinosaurs fighting. The fossils belonging to a Velociraptor and a Protoceratops were maintained positioned as if they were in the midst of battle due to the occurrence of a sand dune that fell over them.

From 1988 to 1990, another team, which was formed with Chinese and Canadian scientists, retrieved some Velociraptor remains in north of China. The American Museum of Natural History and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences held an expedition and some Americans and Mongolians went to the Gobi Desert were they found many well maintained types of skeletons.

Description

Velociraptor had a medium size and the adults measured about 2.07 m, which means 6.8 ft long, and their weight was reaching 15 kg, so 33 lb. Velociraptor’s skull was 25 cm or 9.8 in long, with an up-curved appearance, the superior surface area was concave and the lower one was convex, almost like a crocodile. The jaws were consisting of roughly 26-38 teeth that were widely separated and located on each of their side. Also, the teeth were powerfully serrated mostly at the back edge of the jaw.

 

Velociraptor,ferocious dinosaurus,speedy thief from Jurassic Park, strongly bent claws,intelligent raptor

Being a dromaesaurids, Velociraptor had a big wide hand with three strongly bent claws like a modern bird’s wing bones as they had a similar structure and flexibility. The first claw was the shortest and the second one was the longest of all three. The wrist was constructed in such a manner that the bones restrained its rotation, making the hands to be kept with the palmar surface lying inwards. The foot’s primary digit, which belonged to a theropod, was looking like a little dewclaw. Unlike other therapods that walked with all of their feet’s three digits, a Velociraptor was using only its third and fourth ones. Though the Velociraptor is kind of famous with its second digit, this one was extremely modified and therefore was pulled off the ground. It had a claw that was drastically enlarged and sickle-shaped. This particular huge claw, which grew up to about 6.63 cm long (2.61 in) around its external edge, was most probable a utensil used for predatory means by ripping preys or attacking them.

Like the other dromaeosaurs, Velociraptor had also a long tail with bony projections, also known as prezygapophyses, placed along the vertebrae’s superior surface, and ossified sinews beneath them.

According to paleontologists, there was discovered a Velociraptor mongoliensis with quill knobs on its forearm, concluding the fact that the specimens did had feathers on their skin.

Feathers

It is known that primitive dromaeosaurids fossils more have had their body covered by feathers and gradually grew to have some sort of wings in this manner. Hence, if the Velociraptor’s old relatives were feathered and most likely had the ability of flying the paleontologists believed that the Velociraptor carried feathers also on its skin.

The quill knobs on a Velociraptor’s forearm were discovered in September 2007 by some researchers, in Mongolia. The bumps on a bird’s wings bones, which indicate were the feathers are implanted, shows also that the Veliciraptor had feathers as well due to these similar signs.  

However, the absence of quill knobs does not indicate that an animal didn’t had feathers at all, for instance like flamingos, which don’t have quill knobs. The Velociraptor clearly had those quill knobs, which means it bore wing feathers that were modern.

The specie on which quill knobs were discovered on its forearm constitutes an animal with a height about 1.5 meters (5 ft) and weighting around 15 kilograms (33 lbs). Judging on how far apart the six knobs are placed in this particular specimen, the researchers stated that Velociraptor had maybe 14 wings more, which grew out of its forearm.  

Habit

It is known that Velociraptor used to live in Asia. However, many Velociraptor fossils were found in Russia, China and Mongolia as well. They used to go to places that had a hot climate and were buried in sand dunes. Some fossils were recovered nearby waters’ streams. Perhaps they used to live close to the water and hunted the animals that choose to drink from there. Many predators apply this method nowadays.

Diet

Dromaeosaurids like Velociraptor were carnivores, feeding on meat. They cut down or perforated the preys using their toe claws, which were huge in length. Some dinosaurs that are very close related to Velociraptor, like Deinonychus and Dromeosaurus, used to hunt in packs, fact that suggest that Velociraptor used to do that as well.

If the Velociraptor hunted alone, it could succeed in killing most likely lizards, mammals in their early years, and little dinosaurs. However, if they hunted in a pack, Velociraptor could catch and eat larger victims like Homocephale and the immense hadrosaurs as well.

A certain meal for Velociraptor was Protoceratops. This type of specimen was a dinosaurs feeding on plants, linked to Triceratops, but unlike this one, it didn’t bore any horns and had the dimension of a pig. Some researchers recovered the fossils of Velociraptor and Protoceratops that were buried and preserved into a fight position. The dinosaurs died during that battle and their remains were covered by a sand dune when it collapsed over them.

Hunting in a pack could have give Velociraptor a few advantages by moving faster and quietly surrounding an animal that was left all alone in order to trap it. Hunting for Velociraptor consisted in isolating the prey, somewhere far away from its herd. Velociraptor killed their victims with their teeth or claws by penetrating their vital organs. First of all, Velociraptor would watch closely their victim, observing its every move in order to choose the right moment to pounce on it and slash through its meat using the tow claws.

Extinction

Most likely, Veliciraptor ceased to exist due to the climate change approximately 70 million years ago BCE. The rainforest along with the jungles began to gradually vanish and turn into desert. Due to this, the predators lost their food source and therefore they were left starving until extinction. In case the carnivore specimens wouldn’t have died of hunger, then they would have ended in the extreme climate change. As you can see, the habitat of Velociraptor was eradicated from the face of the earth. During a fight between a male raptor and a Protoceratops, assumedly a landslide of mud appeared and killed both of them right then, capturing that particular moment into remains of fossils.

Interesting facts

• Velociraptor are known to be cruel killers because they appeared as such in Michael Crichton’s novel “Jurassic Park” and after that in a movie adaptation that had Steven Spielberg as a director. However, the raptors depicted in Jurassic Park were created after Deinonychus’ appearance, which is a related coelurosaur. In the movie, Velociraptor appears with a greatly enhanced size and its snout’s shape was modified to the dimensions of a Deinonychus.

• Velocirapor had a particularly advanced binocular vision unlike other dinosaurs; its eyesight was the best of them all.

• Even though Velociraptor was covered in feathers, it wouldn’t have managed to fly because of its roughly small forearms. However, Velociraptor could have used its feathers for display purposes, for controlling the body temperature, for moving easier or for protecting nests.

• Velociraptor was warm-blooded when it comes to its metabolism because of its feathered body. This was very useful for Velociraptor when hunting. Unlike cold-blooded reptiles that have to wait patiently until their pray approaches them, Velociraptor had the proper amount of energy to hunt.

• Until the present day, all of the Velociraptor fossils found in Mongolia didn’t indicate any sort of packs that were supposedly created in order to hunt more efficiently. All the Velociraptor skeletons belonged to solitary individuals.

• Even though Velociraptor is called “speedy thief”, it isn’t as fast as ornithomimids for example, a dinosaur that could reach a speed of 50 miles per hour.

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Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velociraptor
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior_Dinosaurs/Velociraptor
http://dinosaurs.about.com/od/dinosaurbasics/a/velofacts.htm
http://www.walkingwithdinosaurs.com/dinosaurs/detail/velociraptor/
http://www.livescience.com/23922-velociraptor-facts.html
http://www.gameswallpaper.com

Published by Claudia Barbu

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