Why Velociraptors are among the most misunderstood dinosaurs
Hardly the vicious pack hunters depicted in Jurassic Park, these waist-high, feathered animals were more similar to modern birds of prey.
In fact, the raptors that terrorized Jurassic Park were based on a Velociraptor relative: Deinonychus antirrhopus, a much larger dinosaur that inhabited North America in the early Cretaceous period, about 145 to 100 million years ago.
So what were Velociraptors really like? Although our knowledge is still growing as more fossil evidence is unearthed, paleontologists have managed to learn a lot about these iconic predators.
There’s strong consensus among scientists that today’s birds are actually dinosaurs, and that they evolved from theropods, a family of three-toed predators that included Velociraptor mongoliensis and Tyrannosaurus rex. This family connection explains why Velociraptors had many traits found in modern-day birds, including their hinged ankles, swivel-jointed wrists, wishbones, and forward-facing toes. Most notable,