Velociraptor mongoliensis

OLogy Series
extinct animal

Velociraptor mongoliensis

OLogy Series
extinct animal

Armed with fast feet, a pair of sickle-shaped "killing claws," and more than 60 jagged teeth, Velociraptor was a predatory powerhouse. Some scientists believe this meat-eater also had sharp senses and a clever mind.

How Velociraptor Became
a Celebrity
In 1922, Museum paleontologists discovered the first Velociraptor fossil in Mongolia's Gobi Desert. This incomplete skeleton had only a skull, a finger, a few claws, and part of a foot. A year later, this specimen was given its name, which means "speedy robber." After spending about 80 million years buried in the sand, the specimen was then "buried" in a drawer at the Museum for another 50 years. Velociraptor's luck changed in the 1970s as paleontologists studied the connection between Velociraptor and its modern relatives: birds. This dinosaur then achieved superstardom when it was chosen as one of the villains of the movie Jurassic Park.

How do we know Velociraptors were probably smart?

they built elaborate nests for their young

their brains were large and complex

they won all the Mesozoic game shows

Are you right?


By examining Velociraptor's skull, paleontologists know that this dinosaur had a large brain for its body size.

Mark Norell

When you see a bird, study its feet and neck. Watch how it moves. We don't need science fiction to create the Age of Dinosaurs. We still live in it!

Paleontologists discovered a Velociraptor fossil with a "wishbone" in its chest. This proved that Velociraptor is closely related to birds.



The wishbone, made of two joined bones, was once thought to exist only in modern birds. Now we know their Mesozoic relatives had them, too.

Scientific Name: Velociraptor mongoliensis
Pronunciation: vuh-LOSS-uh-RAP-ter mon-go-lee-EN-sis
Meaning: "speedy thief"
Locality found: Mongolia and China
Age: Late Cretaceous, 80 million years ago
Length: 1.8 meters (6 feet) long
Weight: 18 kilograms (40 pounds)
Characteristics: This carnivorous dinosaur had a large, retractable claw on each foot. Scientists believe that this creature was probably a fierce predator.

Image credits: Rick Spears; Mark Norell: courtesy of Discovery Channel Online.