Velociraptor

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velociraptorThe Velociraptor is an extinct dinosaur that existed roughly 75 millions years ago during the Cretaceous Period (not the Jurassic).  The velociraptor derives its name from the combination of the Latin words velox- meaning swift, raptor- meaning plunderer, and the Latin root rapere- meaning "to seize".  The velociraptor is not to be confused with the philosoraptor, its Cretaceous cousin colloquially coined for constant confounding and curious contemplation. 

 

The first velociraptor fossil on scientific record was discovered during an American Museum of Natural History expedition on August 11, 1923.  The fossil was a crushed, but complete skull and was discovered by Peter Kaisen in the Gobi Desert in outer Mongolia.

 

The velociraptor is a theropod dinosaur.  Theropod is a suborder classification referring to a group of dinosaurs that were carnivorous, and stood on two legs.  While the most memorable velociraptors surely starred in the movie Jurassic Park, real-life velociraptors looked very unlike their Hollywood brethren.  

 

Many fossils of velociraptors have been found to show evidence of feathers, and typically velociraptors only grew to about a foot and a half tall at the hip.  In fact, most of the scientific community is now embracing the notion that dinosaurs were much more like modern day birds than reptiles.  Remember that next time you chomp into a chicken leg!