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Velociraptor

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Velociraptor
Fossil range: Late Cretaceous, 75-71 Ma
Velociraptor BW
Scientific classification

Class

Reptilia

Superorder

Dinosauria

Order

Saurischia

Suborder

Theropoda

Infraorder

Deinonychosauria

Family

Dromaeosauridae

Genus

Velociraptor
Osborn, 1924

Species

  • V. mongoliensis
    Osborn, 1924 (type)
  • V. osmolskae
    Godefroit et al., 2008


Velociraptor (meaning 'swift seizer'[1]) is a genus of dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur that existed approximately 75 to 71 mya (million years ago) during the later part of the Cretaceous Period.[2] Only two species are currently recognized, although others have been assigned in the past. The type species is V. mongoliensis; fossils of this species have been discovered in both Inner and Outer Mongolia in central Asia. A second species, V. osmolskae, was named in 2008 for skull material from Inner Mongolia.

Smaller than other dromaeosaurids like Deinonychus and Achillobator, the turkey-sized Velociraptor nevertheless shared many of the same anatomical features. It was a bipedal, possibly feathered carnivore with a long, stiffened tail and an enlarged sickle-shaped claw on each hindfoot, which is thought to have been used to kill its prey. Velociraptor can be distinguished from other dromaeosaurids by its long and low skull, with an upturned snout. It is thought that Velociraptor could have ran up to 45 mph (easily out running a Protoceratops.)

Velociraptor is well known to paleontologists, with over a dozen recovered fossil skeletons—the most of any dromaeosaurid. One particularly famous specimen preserves a Velociraptor locked in combat with a Protoceratops.


FeathersEdit

In September 2007, researchers found quill knobs on the forearm of a Velociraptor found in Mongolia.[8] These bumps on bird wing bones show where feathers anchor, and their presence on Velociraptor indicate it too may have had feathers. According to paleontologist Alan Turner and co-authors Norell and Peter Makovicky, quill knobs are not found in all prehistoric birds, and their absence does not mean that an animal was not feathered – flamingos, for example, have no quill knobs. However, their presence doesn't prove, but rather suggests, that Velociraptor bore wing feathers, with a rachis and vane formed by barbs. But, according to Turner,

"A lack of quill knobs does not necessarily mean that a dinosaur did not have feathers. Finding quill knobs on Velociraptor, though, means that it definitely had feathers. This is something we'd long suspected, but no one had been able to prove."

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Osborn, Henry F. (1924a). "Three new Theropoda, Protoceratops zone, central Mongolia". American Museum Novitates 144: 1–12. http://hdl.handle.net/2246/3223. 
  2. ^ Godefroit, Pascal; Currie, Philip J.; Li Hong; Shang Chang Yong; and 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. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2008)28[432:ANSOVD]2.0.CO;2. 


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