I recently started volunteering at the Missouri Institute of Natural Science. It’s a small museum not far from my house with the largest Triceratops ever found. (Sorry Big John, Henry is a good 30% larger.) After my first day, I decided I’d better pick out a favorite dinosaur so I had something prepared when one of the kids asked.
My dad has always been into dinosaurs, so it’s not like I’m not somewhat familiar with them. I’ve seen all of the Jurassic World movies, read the book, and even watched Camp Cretaceous (which I highly recommend, it’s excellent). But, I’ve never really had a favorite. I do tend to lean towards animals that are really smart and this scene in Jurassic Park scared the living daylights out of me.
So, I decided I should pick Velociraptor. Except, I found out those aren’t really Velociraptors. Velociraptors were small. Really small. Like, the size of turkeys. Michael Crichton based his depiction of the Jurassic Park Velociraptors on the larger Deinonychus, whose name isn’t nearly as cool. The film makers decided to do the same.
So, I decided my favorite dinosaur is the Deinonychus, “terrible claw.” Deinonychus antirrhopus is the only species identified so far. It lived during the Cretaceous (115-108 MA), but had died out long before the asteroid impact that killed off all of the dinosaurs. It’s been found in Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and possibly Maryland. This makes them older than Velociraptor (75-71 MA) and local to the US (Mongolia for Velociraptor). They’ve never found any skin samples, but it’s assumed they had feathers like the older Microraptor and younger Velociraptor.
They had teeth and may have hunted in packs. A number of Deinonychus teeth and bite marks were found with several Tenontosaurus of various sizes and Deinonychus track marks. Though it’s also possible Deinonychus would fight amongst themselves for previous killed carcasses. It’s believed the larger claws on their feet were for used for capturing, grabbing, or gripping rather than puncturing. This is similar to how modern raptors use their claws. And unfortunately, they weren’t nearly as fast as depicted in Jurassic Park.
Unfortunately, since Jurassic Park used the name, Velociraptor, instead of Deinonychus, there isn’t nearly as much cool gear out there for us (new) Deinonychus lovers. I did grab one of these from Stemcell Science Shop and am on the lookout for more feathered Deinonychus gear.
Last Updated on 5 June 2022 by Angel Doran