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038

Fighting Dinosaurs

OLogy Series
specimen
card
038

Fighting Dinosaurs

OLogy Series
specimen

About 80 million years ago, the carnivorous Velociraptor and the plant eating Protoceratops fought to the death. Scientists believe that an avalanche of sand swept over these two enemies, preserving them in the heat of battle. The fighting dinosaur specimens that were unearthed in 1971 are considered a national treasure of Mongolia.

Do We Have a Winner...? 
Do scientists know which one of these fighting dinosaurs won the battle? In 1971, a Mongolian-Polish expedition discovered the fossils of two fighting dinosaurs frozen in time for over 80 million years. Scientists found a Velociraptor with its hind foot claw embedded into the neck of the Protoceratops, causing serious injury. The Protoceratops fought back and broke the Velociraptor's right arm.

Even though these enemies suffered injuries, scientists believe that they died when an avalanche of sand spilled over them. Since we can't go back in time, it is difficult for scientists to know which dinosaur was winning the battle. They do know that the carnivorous Velociraptor preyed upon dinosaurs like Protoceratops and probably started the wrestling match.

The Djadokhta Formation
The fighting Protoceratops and Velociraptor were found in red sandstone called the Djadokhta Formation in the Gobi Desert. This sandstone formation is important because many well preserved fossils have been found here.

Many dinosaurs and early mammals that died in sand avalanches, like the fighting dinosaurs, were found here. Scientists believe that the sand avalanches that ended the lives of many desert creatures were triggered by rainstorms. Scientists have also discovered dinosaurs that appear to have died while trying to dig themselves out of the sand.

While avalanches are devastating for the animals, they present a rare opportunity for paleontologists to study these well-preserved specimens even closer.

Scientists believe that the fight began when Velociraptor tried to steal the Protoceratops':

car

eggs

chocolate covered cycads

Are you right?

Correct!

Some scientists believe that Protoceratops was defending its nest from the fierce Velociraptor.

The desert is a great place to find well preserved fossils.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Scientists believe that rainstorms may have caused sand avalanches that killed and preserved every living thing in its path.

Protoceratops and Velociraptor died while they were fighting in the Gobi Desert.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Museum paleontologists believe that an avalanche of sand killed the dinosaurs while in battle.

Specimens: Velociraptor mongoliensis, Protoceratops andrewsi
Age: Cretaceous; 80 million years ago 
Size: 8 feet (2.5 meters) across
Prepared forFighting Dinosaurs exhibition
Characteristics: In this specimen, Velociraptor's claw is imbedded into the neck of the Protoceratops. The Protoceratops fought back and broke the Velociraptor's arm.

Image credits: courtesy of AMNH.