Dinosaurs
Velociraptor
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Velociraptor means "swift thief". This is a good name because Velociraptor was
a small dinosaur that could run fast. Velociraptor was a theropod. The theropods
were a group of dinosaurs that walked on two legs. This group of dinosaurs are
the ancestors of birds. Velociraptor brains were bigger than most other
dinosaurs compared to the size of their bodies. Velociraptor was a smart
dinosaur.

Its Appearance?
The Velociraptor was just under a meter tall (about three feet), usually about 5-6
feet long from nose to tail, and weighed anywhere from 7-15 kilograms (15-33
pounds).

Velociraptor had feathers on its skin, the same as birds do today. These
dinosaurs walked on two legs and had two hands with three fingers and sharp
claws. Their heads were long and narrow like a crocodile, and had a mouth with
26 or more teeth which was able to close very quickly. On each foot, they had a
large dangerous curved toe claw.

Velociraptor had a stiff tail that it used for balance. The tail could only flex from
side to side, not up and down; this helped the dinosaur run fast and change
directions quickly. Velociraptor had two legs which means it was bipedal. Its
legs were strong and sturdy and it may have used them to jump. Velociraptors
were also very agile.

It ate?
Velociraptor was a carnivore. This means that it ate meat. It slashed or
punctured its victims with its very long toe claw. Closely related dinosaurs like
Deinonychus and Dromeosaurus hunted in packs and Velociraptor probably did
too.

Alone a Velociraptor could have killed and eaten animals like lizards, early
mammals and small or young dinosaurs. In a pack, Velociraptor may have
hunted even larger prey such as Homocephale and even the large hadrosaurs!

One meal that was definitely on a Velociraptor’s menu was Protoceratops.
Protoceratops was a plant-eating dinosaur that was a relative of Triceratops,
but had no horns and was the size of a pig. Scientists have found a fossil of
Velociraptor locked in a fight with a Protoceratops. The animals killed each
other during the fight and a sand dune collapsed on top of them.

In a group, Velociraptor could have quickly and quietly circled around an
animal that was alone to trap it. Velociraptor hunted by separating a victim
from the herd. They killed their prey by piercing its vital organs with their claws or
teeth. Velociraptor would stalk up on their prey and pounce on it then it will
slash through its prey with its claws and then eat it.

It lived?
Velociraptors lived during the Late Cretaceous period, about 80 - 85 million
years ago. This was only 15 million years before the dinosaurs became extinct.
The world was much hotter than it is today, and there were no polar ice caps.
There were small mammals and birds living at the same time as Velociraptor.
There were flowering plants and many insects similar to the ones we see today.

Where?
Velociraptor lived in Asia. Fossils have been fond in Russia, China and Mongolia.
They lived in a place that was hot and covered by sand dunes. There were
streams of water close to where some fossils have been found. They may have
lived near the water and preyed on animals that came to drink. Some predators
do this today.

How were they discovered?
The first Velociraptor was discovered by Palaeontologist Henry Osborn in
Mongolia in 1924. A Paleontologist is a scientist that studies dinosaurs. The first
fossils found were a skull with jaws and some toes with a claw. The skull was
found next to a Protoceratops skull. Palaeontologists have found 12 different
examples of the animal so far.

Velociraptors and "Jurassic Park"
In a popular film called Jurassic Park, Velociraptor did not look like it would
have in real life. The movie's Velociraptors were twice as tall as they really were,
they were scaly instead of feathered and their tails were too flexible. The
Velociraptors in Jurassic Park look more like a Dromeosaur (Raptor) called
Deinonychus, which was Velociraptor's much bigger cousin. But don't let that
fool you, these little creatures could kill you.

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