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Velociraptors: Feathered Predators of the Late Cretaceous

Velociraptors are not what they look like in Jurassic Park. It was one of the most bird-related dinosaurs and had feathers, not scales. It lived around 80 million years ago in the late Cretaceous period and disappeared about 70 million years ago, millions of years before the asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs. It was first discovered in the Gobi desert, Mongolia in 1923 by Peter Kaisen. Its name means speedy thief or quick plunderer.

The velociraptor had a bird-like body that included feathers. While some people believed they had scales, evidence of featherlike quills found in Mongolia suggests otherwise. The raptor had a lot of bird-like traits, such as the flight stroke and a special bone that allowed it to move its wrist sideways. It had three toes and a wishbone, which normally helps birds fly. However, velociraptors were unable to fly because their wishbones were structured differently which restricted movement and their arms were too short. Scientists have a strong belief that birds evolved from dinosaurs since the dinosaurs like the velociraptor evolved feathers and wing-like arms. It used its feathers to protect its eggs, run faster, and keep warm.

The velociraptor had sickle-shaped claws and they were retractable which means they could shoot in and out. Additionally, it had about 14 teeth in its upper and lower jaw. The velociraptor was a carnivore so it ate small animals such as reptiles, amphibians, small dinosaurs, bugs, and mammals. Oftentimes, it hunted solo.

The velociraptor lived in Central and Eastern Asia. Scientists believed that they were nocturnal. These creatures weighed about 100 lbs and were seven feet long and about two feet tall.

Did you know the velociraptor was not the fastest dinosaur? Yet, it could run up to 64 miles per hour. It had a hard, bony, inflexible tail that helped with balancing. Additionally, the velociraptor had a big brain and a good sense of smell. Surprisingly, these creatures were not very smart despite their larger-sized brains.

The fascinating velociraptor was one of the most bird-related dinosaurs. Studying their fossils gives insight into conditions of the past and a better understanding of the creatures that have evolved since those periods.

[Source: Live Science; National Geographic]

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