Velociraptor

Velociraptor

For years, it has been believed that the velociraptor was very reptilian until further study into this dinosaur has shown evidence for its relationship to modern birds. Along with this bipedal carnivore's feathered appearance, the velociraptor fossils have measured its height to be 1.6 feet tall, 6.8 feet long, and weighing approximately 3 pounds [1]. Scientists have concluded that the velociraptor's existence dated back to 71-75 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period [2].

The velociraptor, similar to others in its family, has three curved claws on its foot. The structure of these three claws are similar to modern birds' wing bones in construction and flexibility. It was hypothesized by scientists that velociraptors walk on their third digits of their feet and used their second digit to kill prey. The second digit could grow up to 2.6-3.5 inches long and was used to pierce into prey to restrain when struggling [3] [4] [6]. Along with the use of the second digit to take down prey, the velociraptor used its mouthful of sharp teeth to finish the job. In 2008, Hone and his colleagues discovered teeth from a protoceratops which reveals the predator-prey relationship between the two dinosaurs. Velociraptors are known to prey on herbivores such as the protoceratops after the observation from the famous fossil discovery of the two species fighting to their deaths [5].

There were many velociraptor fossils found in environments with fields of sand dunes and only a few intermittent streams. Scientists believe that the velociraptors were buried alive during sand storms and they were unable to escape in time [6]. Of the different velociraptor fossil specimens, the ones from Mongolia have shown evidence of feathers. Scientists found quill knobs on the forearm of a velociraptor specimen [7]. According to Paleontologist Alan Turn, the lack of quill knobs does not prove that a dinosaur does not have feathers, however, finding quill knobs on a dinosaur does mean that it definitely had feathers [8]. Many scientists would say that the velociraptor was very similar to today's modern birds.

The velociraptor and today's modern birds have many similarities. Both share the bone structure of wishbones, have brooded their nests, have hollow bones, and were covered in feathers. According to Mark Norell, the more we learn about the velociraptor, the more we realize that there is basically no difference between the dinosaur and birds [8].

Because the velociraptor had feathers, it meant that it was warm blooded since feathers function as an insulator. However, the presence of feathers does not guarantee support for flight in the dinosaur. There is a possible hypothesis that the feathers contributed to mating factors as a visual display, which is similar to how modern birds use their colorful feathers. Another possible explanation for feathers on velociraptors is that it could have helped females protect their eggs.

There are still more that scientists are trying to uncover from velociraptors, but now we know who similar they are to today's modern birds.

Classification:

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
OrderSaurischia
SuborderTheropoda
FamilyDromaeosauridae
CladeEudromaeosauria
GenusVelociraptor

References:

  1. Paul, Gregory S. (1988). Predatory Dinosaurs of the World. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 464. ISBN 978-0-671-61946-6
  2. Godefroit, Pascal; Currie, Philip J.; Li, Hong; Shang, Chang Yong; Dong, Zhi-ming (2008). "A new species of Velociraptor (Dinosauria: Dromaeosauridae) from the Upper Cretaceous of northern China". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 28 (2): 432–438.
  3. Norell, Mark A.; Makovicky, Peter J. (1999). "Important features of the dromaeosaurid skeleton II: information from newly collected specimens of Velociraptor mongoliensis". American Museum Novitates 3282: 1–45. hdl:2246/3025
  4. Fowler, D.W.; Freedman, E.A.; Scannella, J.B.; Kambic, R.E. (2011). "The Predatory Ecology of Deinonychus and the Origin of Flapping in Birds". PLoS ONE 6(12): e28964. Bibcode:2011PLoSO...628964F
  5. Society, National. "Velociraptor Mongoliensis, Dinosaur Pictures, Dinosaur Facts - National Geographic". National Geographic. N.p., 2016. Web. 23 Jan. 2016.
  6. Godefroit, Pascal; Currie, Philip J.; Li, Hong; Shang, Chang Yong; Dong, Zhi-ming (2008). "A new species of Velociraptor (Dinosauria: Dromaeosauridae) from the Upper Cretaceous of northern China". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 28 (2): 432–438.
  7. Turner, A.H.; Makovicky, P.J.; Norell, M.A. (2007). "Feather quill knobs in the dinosaur Velociraptor". Science 317 (5845): 1721. Bibcode:2007Sci...317.1721T
  8. American Museum of Natural History. "Velociraptor had feathers." ScienceDaily2007-09-20.