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Roger Weller, geology instructor            regional geology  planetary  gems

Caitlin Henry

Historical Geology

Spring 2008



              The Velociraptor was one of the most cunning dinosaurs to walk the earth. This is the theory of scientists who have studied the fossil remains the creature left behind.  Most Velociraptor skeletons have been determined to date back to the Upper Cretaceous period; however more fossils are found every year from different time periods.  The first Velociraptor dinosaur fossil was discovered by Henry. F. Osborn in Mongolia in 1924; with many more Velociraptor fossils being found in dry desert regions such as China, Russia, and Mongolia.  There have been over 12 full fossil structures discovered as well as over 50 partial fossils found allowing extensive research by thousands of paleontologists and scientists since the first discovery.  The Velociraptor is a most fascinating dinosaur due to its start in evolution, its body structure, and its hunting abilities.

Velociraptor Time Line

  Evolution of the Velociraptor

        The Velocirapter did not start out as a dinosaur.  According to Evolution dinosaurs in general began as birds. Asara et al. (2007) successfully sequenced portions of the dinosaur and mastodon proteins, identifying the amino acids and confirming that the material was collagen.  When they compared the collagen sequences to a database that contains existing sequences from modern species, they found that the T. Rex Sequence had similarities to those of chickens, and that the mastodon was more closely related to mammals, including the African elephant. The protein fragments in the T. rex fossil appear to most closely match amino acid sequences found in collagen of present-day chickens, lending support to the idea that birds and dinosaurs are evolutionarily related.  "Most people believe that birds evolved from dinosaurs, but that's based on the 'architecture' of the bones," Asara said.  "This finding allows us the ability to say that they really are related because their sequences are related."

A.  The relationship between select theropods and tail reduction in bird evolution.
B. Evolution of short-tailed birds exemplified by Archaeopteryx, Iberomesornis, and Columba (pigeon)
tail vertebrae. Note the reduction in number of vertebrae and centrum (body) length. Both Iberomesornis
and Columba possess a pygostyle (asterisk). Scale bar = 2 cm (Gatesy and Dial 199



Body Structure

          Velociraptors were six feet long, measured with their tails outstretched. They weighed about 30 pounds (15 kg). The “Velociraptor” in Jurassic Park were based on a related “dromaeosaur” species named Deinonychus (die-NON-ih-kiss), which means “terrible claw.” Most people get the false conclusion that the Velociraptor was a giant man eating beast however most studies will show that the Velociraptor was shorter then they presumed weighing a little over 30 pounds. The biggest discovery made about the Velociraptor occurred in 2007, scientists announced that they’ve found evidence of quill knobs on Velociraptor fossils–places where feathers were attached to the animal’s bone, just as they are on many birds.  Said scientist Alan Turner, “This is something we’d long suspected, but no one had been able to prove.  Finding quill knobs on velociraptor, though, mean that it definitely had feathers. These creatures had a mouth full of 30 very sharp, curved teeth in a long.  They also had a long snout and an s shaped neck. As for its arms feet it had arms with three-fingered clawed hands and four-toed clawed feet



Hunting Abilities


          The Velocirapter also had an interesting hunting abilities.  This creature was strictlycarniverous feeding off smaller animals.  It is estimated that the animal could run extremely fast, at speeds of 60 km/hr, for about 15 sec.  After the initial burst of speed, the animal needed to stop and recover from a buildup of lactic acid in its muscles. This small detail made it easier for this animal to catch it’s pray and run from enemies.  A recent article shows that the fames sickle claw of velociraptor may not have been for slashing after all, but probably provided a hook, so that they could attach themselves to the prey and bites them to death.  Many people tend to believe that these animals would hunt in packs because of the scene in the movie “Jurassic Park 3”.  Unfortunately there is not enough evidence to prove this theory making it false.