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Velociraptor: Bird or Reptile?

Though modern day film depicts similarities of both bird and reptile characteristics, which is the Velociraptor?

The Velociraptor is said to have existed during the later Cretaceous Period, over 70 million years ago. Though many fossils have been recovered in Asia over the past century, modern day society identifies the species with many inaccurate descriptions. The most popular portrayal of the Velociraptor in modern culture is noted in the 1993 film adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. The characteristics, however, identify the Velociraptor to be more reptilian than anything else. Factual evidence, on the other hand, support the actual genus of the pre-historic animal to be that of a dromaeosaurid theropod; a family of birds.

Compare & Contrast

The film depicts the Velociraptor to be over six feet in height, and weighing at least a ton. Though the characters mention the bird-like tendencies, the appearance is that of an oversized reptile. Fossils, however, contradict this description intensely. In fact, the Velociraptor is estimated to be no larger than a modern day turkey. Though no proof is recorded, it is likely to have also been covered in feathers rather than scales. This is suggested by evidence of the Velociraptor’s ancestors, and their bird-like appearance. To compare the similarities between the film depiction and the Velociraptor, is limited to the figure of the dinosaur. It was a predator, and did stalk its prey in a similar manner; though they were obviously much smaller creatures such as rodents and baby mammals. The predatory features did include sharp teeth and a manus (bird-like hand) baring three, curved claws. Though the film exaggerated the qualities of the Velociraptor, the bodily structure and carnivorous characteristics appear accurate.

I indulged in a bit of research to locate a fossil of a Velociraptor in the United States. Unfortunately, I failed to find any museum displaying such. In fact, even pictures of museum exhibits of the dinosaur appeared inaccurate (no feathers). Though the American Museum of Natural History discovered only a skull in 1922, it has long been reported that scientists discovered quill knobs on the fossilized remains. Quill knobs are locations where feathers extend from the bone. The question is why have these displays not been updated to reflect a more accurate description of the Velociraptor. Any matter….to conclude, I have included a link to the discovery below.

American Museum of Natural History (2009). Science. Retrieved Nov 12, 2009 from http://www.amnh.org/science/papers/velociraptor_feathers.php

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