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New Walk Museum & Art Gallery
Leicester's premier museum with collections from the natural and cultural world

 

 

 

         

 

Exhibitions

Special Exhibition

- Wild Space
- The Mightly Diansours
- Leicestershire's Rocks
- Ancient Egyptians

Future Exhibition

- Annual Exhibition
& Picasso Explored
- Picasso Ceramics
  Archaeopteryx
 


Velociraptor was small for a dromaeosaurid, with adults measuring up to 1.8 meters (6 ft) long, 0.6 meters (2 ft) high at the hip, and weighing 20 kilograms (45 lb). The skull, which grew up to 250 millimeters (10 in) long, was uniquely up-curved, concave on the upper surface and convex on the lower. The jaws were lined with 26–28 widely-spaced teeth on each side, each more strongly serrated on the back edge than the front — possibly an adaptation that improved its ability to catch and hold fast-moving prey.

Velociraptor, like other dromaeosaurids, had a large manus ('hand') with three strongly-curved claws, which were similar in construction and flexibility to the wing bones of modern birds. The second digit was the longest of the three digits present, while the first was shortest. The structure of the carpal (wrist) bones prevented pronation of the wrist and forced the 'hands' to be held with the palmar surface facing inwards (medially), not downwards. The first digit of the foot, as in other theropods, was a small dewclaw. However, whereas most theropods had feet with three digits contacting the ground, dromaeosaurids like Velociraptor walked on only their third and fourth digits. The second digit, for which Velociraptor is most famous, was highly modified and held retracted off of the ground. It bore a relatively large, sickle-shaped claw, typical of dromaeosaurid and troodontid dinosaurs. This enlarged claw, which could be over 65 millimeters (2.5 in) long around its outer edge, was most likely a predatory device used to tear into prey, possibly delivering a fatal blow.

 

 
 

Long bony projections (prezygapophyses) on the upper surfaces of the vertebrae, as well as ossified tendons underneath, stiffened the tail of Velociraptor. The prezygapophyses began on the tenth tail (caudal) vertebra and extended forward to brace four to ten additional vertebrae, depending on position in the tail. The stiffening forced the entire tail to act as a single rod-like unit, preventing vertical motion between vertebrae. However, at least one specimen preserves a series of intact tail vertebrae curved sideways into an S-shape, suggesting that there was considerably more horizontal flexibility. These adaptations of the tail probably provided balance and stability while turning, especially at high speeds.

   
 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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New Walk Museum and Art Gallery 53 New Walk, Leicester LE1 7EA