Deinonychus lived in the early Cretaceous period (115-108 million years ago). Its name means “terrible claw”, for the hook-shaped toe characteristic of most raptors (dromosaurine dinosaurs). The claw was probably used to pin prey, or perhaps even to climb, rather than to slash or stab.
Deinonychus was about 3m long, and most likely covered in feathers. Deinonychus bones were first discovered in Montana in the 1930s and have since also been found in Utah, Wyoming and Oklahoma. It’s closely related to other dromosaurine species like velociraptor, utahraptor and dromaeosaurus.
Note: velociraptors were about the size of turkeys; the Jurassic Park film-makers thought velociraptor was a “more dramatic” name but based their raptors on deinonychus.
Sam is a 13-year-old high school student in New Zealand. He has liked dinosaurs since he first discovered them as a toddler, and his favourite is deinonychus because he thinks it’s the coolest. He used to want to be a palaeontologist (which forced his mum to learn to spell the word) but now he wants to be an astronomer. Palaeontology would still be a great hobby though!
Image credit: Fred Wierum under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0
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