Velociraptors are a group of extinct dinosaurs that lived approximately 70 – 75 million years ago. They are members of a suborder of dinosaurs called “theropods,” all of which had three-toed limbs and hollow bones. Contrary to popular depictions, researchers now believe that Velociraptors were actually feathered dinosaurs! Read on to learn about the velociraptor.
Description of the Velociraptor
Contrary to what movies and television might suggest, these dinosaurs were not massive, apex predators. In reality, Velociraptors were actually about the size of a large turkey. They measured nearly 7 ft. long, but stood just 1.6 ft. tall at the hip.
Weighing in at about 40 lbs., these reptiles were far from the towering apex predators depicted in the movies. However, some depictions were correct, albeit exaggerated. These dinosaurs are well known for their sharp, sickle-shaped claws that are retracted high off of the ground.
Interesting Facts About the Velociraptor
Most of what you think you know about Velociraptors is likely incorrect. As much as we all love “Blue,” the silver screen has dramatized the reality of these dinosaurs.
- That’s Not a Velociraptor – Let’s clear up one thing first. The dinosaurs depicted as “Velociraptor” in the movie Jurassic Park are actually modeled off of a different dinosaur! The large predators shown in the movie are actually based off Deinonychus.
- Not-so-Slashy – The sickle-shaped claws mentioned earlier in this article weren’t used for tearing, as most people think. Instead, when the predators leapt on the backs of their prey, they used the sharp claws to hold on tighter. This allowed the reptiles extra time to find a good killing grip on their prey’s throat, much like leopards or lions do today.
- Asian Heritage – Both known species of Velociraptor were native to China. The first, osmolskae, lived throughout China. The Second, V. mongoliensis, lived primarily in Mongolia. Researchers have not found fossils anywhere else in the world.
- Raptor Racket – You might be able to guess this, but the sounds used to depict these creatures in movies aren’t actually dinosaur sounds. One famous example is the classic barks between the dinosaurs in movies. Those barks are actually the mating noises of tortoises!
Habitat of the Velociraptor
While there are a number of fossilized specimens, we don’t have extensive information on the habitat or range of these creatures. Dinosaur researchers, known as archaeologists, have determined that the habitats were likely arid with only intermittent water sources. The presence of sandstone deposits also suggests that these creatures commonly weathered sand storms.
Distribution of the Velociraptor
The only locations that these two species seem to have lived are in China. Most specimens resided in sites near the Gobi Desert. Some famous excavation sites include the Djadochta Formation, the Goyot Formation, the Flaming Cliffs site, and the Bayan Madahu Formation. Because conditions have to be just right to preserve fossils, it can be difficult to determine the actual range of these creatures.
Diet of the Velociraptor
There are preserved specimens that indicate direct evidence of predatory behavior. This leads researchers to believe that not only are these dinosaurs carnivores, but they are predators as well. Though depicted as pack hunters, researchers have found no specimens in close association with one another. This means that there is no way to prove or speculate they hunted cooperatively.
Velociraptor and Human Interaction
Velociraptors never interacted with humans. Humans excavate fossils at archaeological sites, and research bones, but have never interacted with dinosaurs of any kind.
Humans never domesticated any dinosaurs in any way.
Does the Velociraptor Make a Good Pet
It is quite literally impossible to own Velociraptors as pets.
In a zoological setting, one might estimate that these creatures would be capable of living in human care if they were still alive. They are small enough to house easily, and would likely require areas to perch or trees to climb.
It would be important to closely replicate whatever prey they naturally fed upon as closely as possible. Of course, because they have been extinct for millions of years, this is all speculation.
Behavior of the Velociraptor
Researchers believe that these reptiles hunted at night, and were primarily nocturnal. They likely hunted by ambush, and possibly utilized trees and vegetation from which to leap down on their prey. Researchers have no information on their social life, having found no fossils in close association with one another. As with all extinct creatures, some things remain a mystery.
Reproduction of the Velociraptor
Fossilized specimens cannot tell us about the reproductive behavior of these creatures, but we do have some information about their reproduction. They had dual oviducts, which means that they could develop two eggs at a time. Scientists believe they laid their eggs in nests, and could have possibly incubated or protected the eggs with their wings.