The Velociraptors are a well known group of theropod dinosaurs which were slender, and known for their speed and agility. Their name means “swift thief,” and they lived during the late Cretaceous period. They had skulls which were slightly curved upwards and claw like sickles on each of their second toes. They belong to the dromaeosaurid family.
Velociraptors are known for having very strong jaws which were filled with about 80 sharp teeth. A documentary featured in 2005 showed that Velociraptors did not use their claws to slice open the stomachs of their victims, as was previously believed. Instead, Velociraptors killed their prey with precision, and aimed for the jugular vein or wind pipe of the victim.
The evidence for this was found in 1971 when the fossils of a Velociraptor and Protoceratops were found in the Gobi desert. The Velociraptors claw is found embedded in the area where the jugular vein of the Protoceratops would be located. The fossils of the Velociraptor were first found in Mongolia in 1924 by a paleontologist named H.F. Osborn. Velociraptors seem to have resided in Eurasia, as most fossils have been found in Russia, China, or Mongolia.
Some refer to the Velociraptor as being a bird, and this is correct to some extent. Many dromaeosaurids have birdlike features, and it is believed that the Velociraptor may have had feathers, though no evidence has been found which supports this. Since most birds today have feathers even if they are unable to fly, more than likely the Velociraptors had feathers also.
Velociraptors have tails which are contracted, and it was always held directly behind its body. This gave the creatures excellent balance and the ability to turn quickly. Deinonychus is related to the Velociraptor, but is much larger in size. Many paleontologists also believe that the Velociraptor was a warm blooded creature, and it may have hunted in packs to compensate for its size. This has not yet been confirmed.
Many movies like Jurassic Park feature the Velociraptor much larger than it actually was. In reality, the Velociraptor was only 6 feet in length, 2 feet tall, and probably weighed no more than 45 pounds.