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The velociraptors in the 'Jurassic Park' movies are nothing like their real-life counterparts


Jurassic Park Velociraptor

One of the most memorable and frightening dinosaurs introduced in  the "Jurassic Park" series is the Velociraptor. They may not be as gigantic as the T. rex, but the intimidating raptors have appeared in each of the three films so far. 

We'll see them again on screen in "Jurassic World," which hits theaters June 12. 

However, you may not realize the ferocious beasts we've become acquainted with onscreen are much different than what popular culture might lead you to believe.

Jurassic Park VelociraptorWhile they are portrayed as vicious, cunning reptile-like hunters in the movies, in reality, they were much smaller, less intelligent, and resembled a bird more than a reptile.

"It's the size of a big turkey or a small wolf,"Dr. John Hutchinson, an evolutionary biomechanist and professor at the Royal Veterinary College in London, explained to Business Insider. "The evidence of their brain is that it's no smarter than a pretty dumb bird like an Emu or something like that."

The real Velociraptor was also feathered, a discovery which wasn't made until after "Jurassic Park" was released in 1993. 

"We know that for sure because we found specimens that have the insertion points for feathers on their arms." Dr. Mark Norell, current Chairman of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, told Business Insider.

Here's a sketch of what an actual Velociraptor may have looked like by artist Luis V. Rey. This depiction has even made it into a museum in America.

Velociraptor Accurate

Michael Crichton, who wrote the book which "Jurassic Park" is based on, and director Steven Spielberg were both aware of the Velociraptor's less than intimidating size back when the movie was being developed in the early '90s.

The Velociraptor we see on screen ended up based off of another dinosaur, Deinonychus. This is partially because Crichton based his novel on Gregory Paul's "Predatory Dinosaurs," which "labeled the Velociraptor as a Deinonychus subspecies." 


Spielberg could have changed it to the more accurate term, but most Paleontologists think he probably kept it that way because "Velociraptor" sounded a lot cooler than "Deinonychus."

"[Velociraptor] is a much sexier, better-sounding name." Norell said. "For somebody to be talking about that Deinonychus because even Deinoychus, amongst the professional community, people pronounce it different ways, you know? I mean, it just flows off the tongue a lot easier."

When asked the same question, Dr. Hutchinson also described the Velociraptor name as "sexier."

While the scientific name isn't that catchy, Deinoychus does translate to "Terrible Claw" -- and the Velociraptors in the "Jurassic Park" franchise have some pretty mean ones. 

The film's Velociraptors were a bit bigger than Deinonychus.Funny enough, just two years before the debut of "Jurassic Park," a new dinosaur was discovered called the Utahraptor which is nearly identical to the Velociraptors seen onscreen. Utahraptor

"Jurassic World" will bring back basically the same Velociraptors as before. However, they still won't have any feathers, and it appears from the trailers that they won't change much in size, either. This makes them consistent with the original film, but not so much with modern science.

Jurassic World VelociraptorOne thing that may be different, though, is that the Velociraptors here could be a lot friendlier then they have been in the past. One trailer shows Chris Pratt's character training the raptors as he talks about "a relationship based on respect."

But maybe it wasn't their behavior that needed changing.

Jurassic Park III

While it is hard to determine exactly how they behaved, there is some evidence to show real Velociraptors were indeed vicious fighters.

One famous fossil found in Mongolia preserves a Velociraptor mid-fight with a Protoceratops.

Velociraptor Protoceratops Fighting

"I wouldn't wanna tangle with one," Hutchinson said.

SEE ALSO: This brilliant sci-fi film is one of the best movies you'll see all year

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