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Dinosaur Profiles: the Velociraptor

The raptor group of dinosaurs is particularly fascinating because they either possessed an infamous characteristic that enhanced its ability to capture and kill its prey (a rather sizable claw) or were very fast , zipping through prehistoric forests with ease. In this article, you will learn more about the Velociraptor and other features that set it apart from other dinosaurs.

The Velociraptor thrived during the late Cretaceous period, which is about 85 to 80 million years ago. Dinosaurs that also lived around the same time included the Protoceratops and Oviraptor. At that time, the climate was hot and dry with an environment quite similar to a desert. Some bodies of water, such as streams, existed at the time.

Physical Characteristics

The Velociraptor was a bipedal dinosaur, meaning that it walked and ran (rather quickly) on two long, thin legs. It is thought that the dinosaur had the ability to run up to roughly 40 mph at short bursts of time. The dinosaur probably had the ability to jump as well. When the meat eater ripped into its prey, it used about 80 very sharp, curved teeth that sat in a long, flat snout. Scientists have found teeth that measured more than an inch long.

The head of the Velociraptor was only about 7 inches long, and it was attached to a neck shaped like a ‘S’. The arms of the dinosaur had three fingers on each clawed hand. Its feet had four clawed toes. Overall, the creature measured about 5 to 6 feet long and probably weighed about 15 to 33 pounds. At the end of its body was a stiff tail that helped the creature stay balanced. The tail also made it easier for the dinosaur to make speedy turns when chasing after its prey.

Diet

The Velociraptor’s brain was relatively large when taking the rest of its body size into consideration. They belonged to a class of dinosaurs that were the most intelligent. One of the smart tactics of the dinosaur is seen in the way they hunted. It is suggested that the Velociraptor hunted in packs, which increased their chances of taking down very large animals as their prey.

The Velociraptor was a carnivore (also known as a meat eater). Whatever creature it was able to take down and tear apart was its main choice of food. It is known that they ate the Protoceratops and most likely other plant eaters, such as the duck-billed dinosaurs called hadrosaurs.

Fossil Location

The first Velociraptor fossils found and described were done so by the paleontologist H. F. Osborn in 1924 when he was in Mongolia. Nearly 12 Velociraptor fossils have been uncovered, including two hatchling Velociraptor skulls that were found not too far from an oviraptorid nest in Mongolia. Fossils of this species have emerged in Russia and China as well.

Fossils of a Velociraptor and a Protoceratops were found in one place in 1971. The two creatures died together. It appears that the Velociraptor was attacking the Protoceratops with its claws, but the armored head of the Protoceratops had successfully pierced the chest of the Velociraptor.