The movie "Jurassic Park"
made Velociraptor famous. What is interesting is
that this critter doesn't really look like the movie dinosaur. The
is much smaller than in the film and it has a longer, thinner snout.
It did have a large brain, but was not smart enough to open doors. Still, pound for pound, Velociraptor was a very effective
It most famous characteristic is the "Killing Claw."
It has on each foot. Each inside toe has a large
(about 5 inches) hooked claw that is controlled by a strong tendon.
This claw is held upward when the animal is walking or running.
However, when it attacks, the tendon snaps tight and the claw snaps
down with great speed and force, slicing deeply into the victim. Not a
very pretty picture, but an effective way to inflict a serious wound. Velociraptor was probably a pack hunter, which would have
allowed it to attack prey much larger than itself. It also had a very
large brain relative to its size - it was one of the smartest
dinosaurs. It was very light and very fast. Recent thinking is that it
was also very close to being birdlike, and that it had feathers that
it used both for display and insulation. It had very strong arms and
claws, which were effective weapons by themselves. It had sharp,
recurved teeth in its long mouth. One of the most fascinating fossil
discoveries ever made is of a Velociraptor locked in mortal
combat with a
Protoceratops. Both creatures probably died instantly in a
sandstorm and their bodies were buried with the claws of the raptor in
the body of the little ceratopsian, whose mouth was firmly locked on
the raptors leg.