Velociraptor mongoliensis (Osborn, 1924)
Velociraptor mongoliensis, the “swift robber from Mongolia”, was discovered in 1923 in 75 million-year-old sandstone at the amazing Flaming Cliffs of Mongolia. It was named in 1924 from a crushed skull, skeletal elements, and the now famous “killing claw”, in reality, the second toe of the animal that was kept off the ground so as to always be sharp. It was named “swift robber” because the limbs and its long, stiff tail indicated an animal that moved fast.
Velociraptor was 6’ long, almost 1.5’ high at the hips, could reach up and bite something 2’ high without jumping, and weighed 30 pounds. Its skull, 10” long, had a unique upward curve to it. The 28 teeth are very small and its bite was weak (though it would still most certainly hurt and draw blood!). The core of the “killing claw” is 2.5” long; in life, it would have been covered in a large, sharp fingernail like talons of birds. Its large hands had 3 exceptionally curved, very sharp claws.
With its large eyes, it may have hunted at night.
Velociraptor had feathers, probably 14 on each arm (though it couldn’t fly), a wishbone, and hollow bones as close relatives of birds. It is probable they nested like birds too, sitting on the nests and initially helping the babies. Maybe it used the arm feathers to cover the nest?
In 1971 a Velociraptor skeleton was found fighting a Protoceratops (a small Triceratops relative). The Velociraptor’s foot claw was found under the throat of the Protoceratops while the right arm of the Velociraptor was in the Protoceratops’s beaked mouth. A sandstorm buried them while fighting.