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Friday, July 6, 2007

Velociraptor

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Velociraptor (meaning 'swift thief') was a genus of dromaeosaurid theropoddinosaur that existed approximately 83 to 70 million years ago during the later part of the Cretaceous Period. There is only one currently recognized species, V. mongoliensis, although others have been assigned in the past. Fossils of this species have been found in central Asia, from both Inner and Outer Mongolia.

Smaller than other dromaeosaurids like Deinonychus and Achillobator, the turkey-sized Velociraptor nevertheless shared many of the same anatomical features. It was a bipedal carnivore with a long, stiffened tail and had an enlarged, sickle-shaped claw on each hindfoot, which is thought to have been used to kill its prey. Velociraptor can be distinguished from other dromaeosaurids by its long and low skull, with an upturned snout.

Due in large part to its prominent role in Michael Crichton's novel Jurassic Park and the subsequent motion picture series, Velociraptor (commonly shortened to 'raptor') is one of the dinosaur genera most familiar to the general public. It is also well-known to paleontologists, with over a dozen recovered fossil skeletons — the most of any dromaeosaurid. One particularly famous specimen shows a Velociraptor locked in combat with a Protoceratops

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