Hunting In Packs

Not all dinosaurs were docile plant-eaters. The flesh-eating dinosaurs -theropods - had to kill to survive. Lethal weapons equipped these animals for a life of violence: razor-sharp fangs, claws like grappling hooks, powerful jaws for tearing flesh, and muscular legs to stamp the life out of small victims. Many would have preyed on small fry - baby dinosaurs, lizards, or eggs. Others may have ganged together, using stealth and cunning to trap larger victims, and teamwork to overwhelm them. One of the most savage of these pack-hunters might have been the theropod Velociraptor.

Speedy killer

Velociraptor ("swift robber") was the two-legged dinosaurian equivalent of a lithe, agile hunting cat. This theropod was not as fast as a cheetah, and only about as bright as a bird, but it packed more killing power than almost any creature of its weight. Its weapons were long, narrow jaws bristling with bladelike fangs, and fingers and toes armed with sharply curved, daggerlike claws.

a

Duel to the death

Fossils of a Velociraptor and a Protoceratops that died locked in battle over 70 million years ago hint at their fighting techniques. The 7 ft (2 m) long Velociraptor had grappled with the pig-sized Protoceratops. The theropod tried grasping its victim's snout with clawed hands while kicking savagely at its throat. As it died, the Protoceratops clamped its strong "parrot's beak" on the aggressor's right arm. Before the Velociraptor broke free, windblown sand seems to have smothered them both.

Velociraptor's long arms / folded back against its body. When it leaped on its prey, the arms unfolded with a twist of the wrist, just as birds unfold their wings to fly. Stretching out, it then hooked its claws in a victim's hide.

Velociraptor's chief weapons were its sickle-shaped second-toe claws, which swung forward to deliver slashing attacks.

Velociraptor

Velociraptor's chief weapons were its sickle-shaped second-toe claws, which swung forward to deliver slashing attacks.

Velociraptor's long arms / folded back against its body. When it leaped on its prey, the arms unfolded with a twist of the wrist, just as birds unfold their wings to fly. Stretching out, it then hooked its claws in a victim's hide.

Protoceratops

Protoceratops ("first horned face") had a . .

large bony neck frill but lacked the horns of larger, more advanced horned dinosaurs. This four-legged plant-eater probably cropped tough-leaved plants with its "parrot's beak" and sliced them up with sharp cheek teeth that cut like scissors. Weighed down by its head, it might not have run very fast. If attacked, biting would have been its most effective defense.

_ Neck frill

Fossil finds

Fossil finds

Velociraptor Protoceratops

Velociraptor Protoceratops

248 205 144 65

Million years ago

„ A member of the pack lurks expectantly in the background, waiting to go in for the kill. Packs of Velociraptors may have encircled their prey in the same way that lions do.

Beak

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment