Deinonychus

deinonychus (3)

Distribution:

Deinonychus lived on the island continent of Laramidia. During the Cretaceous period North America was divided in half. To the east was Appalachia and to the west was Laramidia.

Time Period:

They existed during the early Cretaceous period about 115-108 million years ago. This was the third and final segment of the Mesozoic Era. Until this Era the continents which exist today were fused into one super continent called Pangaea. Although Pangaea had already begun to separate, the Cretaceous period saw it break apart and spread across the Earth’s surface. This slowly cooled the planet’s climate and the continents and oceans familiar to us today started to form. While many species adapted, these changes may have been too hard to overcome when paired with regular surges in volcanic activity and the planet being hit by an asteroid, because by the end of the period all the dinosaurs had perished in the mass extinction of their kind.

Size:

They were 3.4 meters (11 ft) long, 1 meter (3 ft) high and weighed 68 kg (150 lbs)

Diet:

This was a carnivore which fed on both other dinosaurs and its own species.

Interesting facts:

Deinonychus means ‘terrible claw’ and the raptors in the Jurassic Park films are modelled on Deinonychus which was much larger than its cousin the Velociraptor. This species is thought to have had  keen eyesight and large brains making them clever for dinosaurs. Although, it is very unlikely that they would have been as intelligent as the films suggest, for example, they wouldn’t have been able to turn a door knob.

In the 1960’s/ 70’s John H. Ostrom suggested that modern day birds evolved from dinosaurs. He could see such  close similarities between them that he made the connection. We have since learned that deinonychus had feathers too. At the time it was a considered to be a crazy theory but now it’s mostly accepted as a fact. By studying deinonychus, Ostrom revolutionised the world’s understanding of dinosaurs.

They would have used their long, sharp claws to inflict serious injuries on their prey. They may even have waited until they bled to death before going back to eat them. Some of their prey would have been the larger herbivores of the age. To succeed against such strong prey, it’s likely that they would have hunted in packs. However, they would have hunted smaller prey on their own. It is also likely that their claws would have also helped them to attract a mate, climb trees and defend themselves against larger carnivorous dinosaurs.