Velociraptor

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The Skull of Velociraptor (Thomas Vandenberghe, Wikimedia)

The Skull of Velociraptor (Thomas Vandenberghe, Wikimedia)

One of the stars of Jurassic Park, Velociraptor is famous name. But the real Velociraptor has very little in common with the one from the movie. It was half the size in real life and was covered in feathers.

But it was a deadly predator. In 1971 a Velociraptor was found intertwined with another dinosaur called Protoceratops and it seems that both were buried alive as the Velociraptor struggled to kill its prey.

Discovery: It was found in the 1920’s in an expedition to Mongolia. Velociraptor was named by Osborn in 1924.

Height: 1m

Length: 1.8m

Weight: 7-15kg

Where it lived: Fossils are found today in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and China.

When it lived: Between 80-70 million years ago, in the Cretaceous.

What it ate: Whatever it could get its hands on. It was a meat-eater and there is evidence of it hunting other dinosaurs. One has even been found with a pterosaur bone in its stomach which palaeontologists believe points to scavenging.

Weapon of choice: Velociraptor was well armed. Its mouth had up to 80 sharp teeth each about 2.5cm long. It was intelligent, as smart as a dinosaur got but nowhere near as smart as an intelligent mammal.

Its weapon of choice was its 9cm long claw, one on each foot, which may have been used to cut veins of larger prey or pin down small prey. Used alongside its high speed running, Velociraptor was a deadly predator.

Weakness: Velociraptor was a killing machine but its jaw was relatively weak, and it was very small. It may have been smart and fast enough to avoid the bigger predators, but the larger plant eaters were too big for it to hunt.

Therizinosaurus cheloniformis

A giant hand belonging to Therizinosaurus. (Ghedoghedo, Wikimedia)

A giant hand belonging to Therizinosaurus. (Ghedoghedo, Wikimedia)

Therizinosaurus was one of the strangest dinosaurs known. Only fossils of its arms and legs have been found to date and those arms were weird. They were large, really large and had massive claws. Cheloniformis means “turtle form” because, when the arms were first found, scientists thought they had found a turtle.

Closely related species allow palaeontologists to suggest how Therizinosaurus looked. Most likely it had a wide body, long neck and quite a small head.

Discovery: originally found in 1948, it was named by a Russian scientist in 1954.

Height: Maybe 3m, but palaeontologists can’t be sure.

Length: It is estimated that it could be 10m.

Weight: very roughly estimated at 4500kg.

Where it lived: Mongolia

When it lived: A Cretaceous dinosaur, it lived 75-70 million years ago.

What it ate: Palaeontologists don’t know, the skull or stomach is the best place to find out but both are missing. They suspect it was vegetarian based on related species. 

Weapon of choice: Its claws are the longest known of any animal that has ever lived and could have measured 1m long (70cm long bone covered in a a sheath). These claws were deadly but they may have been used mainly for finding food.

Weakness: Not enough is known about this species to know its weakness but closely related species were slow and cumbersome.