Friday, March 11, 2011

Velociraptors are vicious little turkeys

image credit: Jim Linwood
If you were alive during the nineties, there's a good chance you saw the movie Jurassic Park, or were at least inundated with a flood of popular culture references that would make you think you knew what the creature on the left was.

"Oh yeah," you'd say, "That's a velociraptor. Tall enough to look a man in the eye, about ten or eleven feet long, a vicious killing claw on its first toe. It lived in the western United States, right?"

You'd be wrong.

All those stats are true, however they apply to the velociraptor's larger cousin, Deinonychus, one of the most fearsome creatures to ever stride across the Americas.

image credit: Kevin
Turkeys, really? Oh yes, the real velociraptors were not much larger than turkeys. These little killers hunted protoceratops (a small, hornless predecessor to the likes of the mighty triceratops, about the size of a sheep) and other small game across what is now the Gobi desert of Mongolia.

Vicious? Yes. Intelligent pack hunters? Double yes. Packed a savage killing claw on the first toe of each foot? Yes indeed.

Small enough to shove into a medium sized dog carrier? Unfortunately that is also a yes.

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