Name: Velociraptor

Pronounced: vel-OSS-ee-rap-tor

Meaning: ‘Quick plunderer’

Period: Late Cretaceous (84 – 80 million years ago)

Group: Theropods (beast feet)

Size: It was approximately 1.8m long and 1m tall. It weighed between 7kg – 15kg.

Diet: Carnivore

Characteristics: The Velociraptor walked on two long, thin legs and had an s-shaped neck. It had a long, flat nose and about eighty very sharp, pointy, curved teeth. Some of the teeth were over 2.5cm long. It had three claws on its front limbs and four claws on the back limbs. Each second toe had a retractable 9cm long, sickle-shaped claw. These claws would have been its main weapon. This dinosaur would probably have hunted in packs. It has been estimated that it may have been able to run up to 40 mph for short bursts. Its stiff tail worked as a counterbalance and allowed it make very quick turns at high speeds. It is now thought to have had a fine feather-like covering as in September 2007, researchers found quill knobs on the front limbs. Palaeontologists claim these bumps indicate where feathers could have grown.

Named by: Henry F. Osborn in 1924

Discovery: During an American Museum of Natural History expedition to the Outer Mongolian Gobi Desert, on 11 August 1923, Peter Kaisen discovered the first Velociraptor fossils, which included a crushed but complete skull and one of its retractable second-toe claws. Between 1988 and 1990, a joint Chinese-Canadian team discovered Velociraptor remains in northern China. To date, about a dozen Velociraptor fossils have been found, including one which died in a battle to the death with a Protoceratops and two hatchling Velociraptor skulls, found near a dinosaur nest in Mongolia, which may have been a tasty meal.