Velociraptor: Features And Trivia
Films like Jurassic Park are responsible for the huge popularity of dinosaurs. Thanks to them, names like Velociraptor or Tyrannosaurus were engraved in the minds of millions of people. However, the representations of animals that appear in these films are far from reality.
Next, we’ll talk about Velociraptor , one of the most famous dinosaurs and, in turn, the one that was the worst represented in popular culture. If you want to know more about its features and curiosities, keep reading.
What kind of dinosaur was Velociraptor?
The famous Velociraptor was a theropod, that is, it belonged to the group of bipedal dinosaurs that fed mainly on meat. Within theropods there are also other dinosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus .
More specifically, Velociraptor was a dromaeosaur. These animals were active predators of medium or small size, closely related to today’s birds. In this way, these animals showed many similarities to them.
One of the most striking features is that the dromeosaurids were completely covered by feathers, which formed structures similar to proto-wings on their arms, although it is not yet known whether many of them could fly or glide.
The similarities are so great that some authors have suggested that the dromeosaurids were descended from the first birds, which would have lost the ability to fly. Similar to ostriches, they would have readapted to run and hunt on land.
Even so, the most robust hypothesis so far is not that, but that Velociraptor and the like would be cousins of birds. They probably coincided in time with the first birds, but followed different evolutionary paths.
The emergence of the swift thief
The real Velociraptor is a far cry from the big, robust and scaly animal that is often shown in movies. It was a small, graceful dinosaur, measuring 2 meters long and 0.5 meters high, and weighing about 15 kilos. Also, its long, stiff tail represented about half its length.
Velociraptor was completely covered with feathers, which formed the typical wings on the arms and a fan along the tail. The arms were very short, so he was probably not able to fly or glide.
However, the sentences fulfilled other functions. Among them, thermoregulation, maneuverability during movement or communication with other members of the species stood out, as occurs in today’s birds.
On the other hand, this animal’s hands did not hang down with the palms facing inward as shown in Jurassic Park , as they are not mammals. Instead, these structures were held parallel to each other, with the palms pointing toward each other. Its 3 fingers were long and allowed to manipulate objects and fangs.
The hind legs were long and allowed to reach speeds of almost 40 kilometers per hour. In addition, one toe of each leg had a gigantic hook-shaped claw, known as a killer claw.
The Velociraptor Ecology
This theropod lived in arid or desert environments, with temporary flows of water, presence of dunes and frequent sand storms, which buried many of the animal fossils found.
The Velociraptor was a voracious predator, but there is no convincing evidence that hunted in groups. In fact, the fossils found are solitary. Also, some studies based on his sclerotic rings indicate that he was probably a nocturnal animal.
When feeding, this animal used a strategy similar to today’s birds of prey: it jumped over its prey and pinned them to the ground with its huge murderous claws, which would serve both to fix itself on the victim and to pierce vital organs.
Velociraptor is believed to have mainly consumed smaller mammals and reptiles, but thanks to the fossil fighting dinosaurs it is known that this was not always the case.
This magnificent fossil depicts the fight to the death between a Velociraptor and a Protoceratops, a larger herbivore. A sandstorm interrupted the fight and buried both dinosaurs, who were immortalized in combat for the rest of the story.
Unlike modern reptiles, Velociraptor and other dinosaurs were not cold-blooded. They are believed to be mesothermic animals, with metabolisms less accelerated than that of birds and mammals, but more independent of outside temperature than that of lizards and snakes.
Thanks to this, they could maintain a more active lifestyle than ectothermic animals, without the need to consume as high amounts of food as endotherms.
This dinosaur is one of the best known to science, as more than 12 very complete fossil skeletons have been found, a record among dromeosaurids. However, there are always fun facts to discover about these amazing animals.