What was a Velociraptor? - A Guide for Kids
Updated: Jun 14
Jurassic Park made the Velociraptor world famous. Before Steven Spielberg's cinematic Dino fest, every school child's favourite dinosaur was likely either a T-Rex, Stegosaurus or Triceratops.
Post Jurassic Park and the Velociraptor - or 'Raptor - definitely appears on that favourite Dinosaur list. After all, who wouldn't want a 'Raptor as a best friend who saves your life on a regular basis? Enough of the film 'Raptor though - let's find out about the real 'Raptor!
When was Velociraptor discovered?
The Velociraptor was first found in 1923, by Peter Kaisen in the Outer Mongolian Gobi Desert. It's not like he found the full skeleton of the 'Raptor - that rarely happens - all he uncovered was a crushed skull and a toe claw.
When did Velociraptor roam the Earth?
Around 70 - 85 million years ago, in the late Cretaceous period. That means Velociraptor was around at the same time as Tyrannosaurs Rex, Triceratops and Spinosaurus. If you are a Dinosaur lover, then the Cretaceous era was definitely the place to be!
What does 'Velociraptor' even mean?
It means something along the lines of 'swift plunderer'. Don't worry, I'm not suggesting that the 'Raptor was akin to a quick-footed Pirate. It's name is more to do with the fact it was a meat eater - a carnivore.
How big was Velociraptor?
Not nearly as big as it appears in the films! That's because in Jurassic Park the Velociraptors don't actually look anything like real Velociraptors.
They look like the very tricky to say 'Deinonychus antirrhopus', a dinosaur that was pretty fearsome looking. The real Velociraptor didn't look like that. It was actually a fairly tiddly dino, one the size of a turkey. A turkey! Still, don't mess with a Velociraptor, they have around 56 serrated knife like teeth in their upper and lower jaws - perfect for ripping and chomping flesh.
Did Velociraptor hunt in packs?
Maybe, maybe not. No packs of fossilised Velociraptor remains have ever been found, they are always discovered hanging out on their own.
However, Raptors, for their diminutive size, had much bigger brains than other Dinosaurs, suggesting they would have been clever enough to work together as a pack.
Also, being so small, it makes sense that Velociraptors would need to team up to bring down a bigger Dino (which, considering 'Raptors were the size of a girthy chicken, would include most other Dinosaurs).
What about those claws? Please tell me Velociraptors at least had claws?
Yes it did. Velociraptors had a three inch claws on the heel of each foot.
Palaeontologists believe that Velociraptor would sneak attack their prey, using the element of surprise by stabbing their unwitting victim with those razor sharp claws.
I guess that's why the claws were on the heel of the Velociraptors foot, that way they were hidden from sight.
Did Velociraptor have feathers then?
It's very likely, Palaeontologists believe that Velociraptor wasn't scaly skinned. Instead it was covered in a fine plume of feathers.
Why did Velociraptor have feathers? It's unlikely they could fly so what was having feathers all about? Palaeontologists have a number of theories - don't they always! - some suggest the feathers would help keep the Velociraptor warm whilst others think having feathers would make for excellent camouflage.
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