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Deinonychus

Build & Characteristics

  • Deinonychus means “Terrible Claw” because of the large talon on the second toe of each foot. These claws were used to stab their prey and were held retracted while the dinosaur walked.
  • Deinonychus measured about ten feet long (three meters), and four feet tall (one meter) and weighed an average of 175 pounds.
  • It was a bipedal carnivore with very powerful jaws featuring 60 curved, blade like teeth that helped it to catch its prey.
  • A misconception about these raptors was that they were fast and agile creatures. A recent study shows that it may have been capable of only a trot or brisk run at six mph.
  • Deinonychus was very similar to its more popular Asian cousin Velociraptor; however Deinonychus is far more influential with paleontologists. Its many fossils have helped scientist learn more about the raptor dinosaurs including behavior and appearance.

History

  • Deinonychus roamed the Midwest of North America including modern day Montana, Wyoming, and Oklahoma during the Cretaceous period (110-100 million years ago).
  • The hind claws were used to inflict a deep stabbing wound and they may have attacked and then withdrew to wait for its prey to bleed out, saving precious energy. It is also believed that they hunted in packs to take down larger prey like the two ton duck billed Tenontosaurus since both been found in close proximity to each other.
  • Deinonychus likely experienced an environment consisting of tropical/sub-tropical forests not unlike Louisiana today.

Discovery

  • Fossils were first discovered in 1931 by Barnum Brown, however due to the fact that it wasn’t a headline worthy size, Brown cast it aside naming it Daptosaurus and forgetting about it entirely until scientists “rediscovered” it later.
  • Deinonychus was the first dinosaur to inspire the Avian Dinosaur theory. In the late 1960’s John H. Ostrom noted that Deinonychus had many similarities to modern birds. Back then it was a very wacky theory, but now the scientific community accepts it as fact.
  • The first eggs associated with Deinonychus weren’t discovered until 2000, but they suggest that they brooded over their young much like the Citipati.