ByFergus Coyle, writer at
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Fergus Coyle

The velociraptors of the legendary Jurassic Park are pretty much the central antagonists. Sure, they aren't as iconic as the beloved T-Rex, but they are the ones that usually end up providing a tense climax throughout all three films. So, if they are the villains, it would be natural to assume that they must be deadly, right? Well, let's take a look, shall we...

Are the Jurassic Park Velociraptors actually raptors?

First off, it's necessary to make the point that what you're seeing in the Jurassic Park franchise are not velociraptors, but actually Deinonychus. Velociraptors are actually about half the size of their screen counterparts and considerably less lethal. However, "raptor" sounds a hell of a lot more threatening that "Deinonychus" and is less of a mouthful for the actors to say, so fair play to Spielberg there. That's basically just in case any of you try and fact-check me and end up with a bunch of information on a knee-high chicken. That'll teach you to fact-check me.

also, they were feathered
also, they were feathered

The first Jurassic Park film makes a point of how lethal the raptors are from the get-go, pretty much opening with Doctor Grant giving a kid nightmares with his description of them. However, the deinonychus is actually less than a meter high at the hip and it's head wouldn't have reached your shoulder. Most of its 3 and a half meter length was made up of an incredibly long tail that allowed it to achieve more balance, especially at high speeds, despite its legs being so far back on its body. So in terms of physical presence, the deinonychus isn't all that menacing. However, in the film's world, the raptors stand at about 2 meters high at the head, almost a meter taller than the deinonychus would have in real life.

So let's say that for argument's sake, the raptors in the films are genetically altered to be larger than life, while still retaining all other characteristics of the deinonychus. So let's begin with a more in-depth analysis of their physiology. First off is that snout. With seventy odd teeth in the jaw, all serrated, all nearly an inch long, and all deadly. Add that to the fact that the jaws had a bite force approximate to that of an alligator and you have a mouth that was able to puncture bone with ease, as well as shear any meat between the teeth and said bone. The deinonychus also had an unusually solid skull for its species, meaning blows to the head would have little to no effect.

So far, so deadly.

An example deinonychus skeleton
An example deinonychus skeleton

What about that clawed foot?

Next is what the deinonychus is named after: that massive claw on its foot. Measuring at 5.5" of solid bone it is said to shred through flesh with impunity, and with its particularly long arms it would be able to pin you down with its three claws while ripping you to pieces. But it can't. Tests have been run with the claw, and its ability to cut and slice is actually minimal. It's true purpose is actually believed to have been climbing. On top of that, it wouldn't have been able to catch you as easily as Jurassic Park would have you believe. A typical adult deinonychus would have a walking speed of somewhere around 6 mph. It's top speed is harder to estimate, but it would be somewhere in the region of 30 mph. To put that into perspective, Usain Bolt can hit about 28 mph, so the average human top speed is just shy of 20 mph. So you would probably be able to give it a good run for its money. At least, you would if they weren't so agile. Still, if you climb a tree you're pretty much safe. Wait a second, no you're not, they can climb trees.

Are they really that smart?

However, there's one massive game-changer with regards to how deadly these things are. Did they hunt in packs? Well, that's actually a good question and is actually a matter under much debate in the scientific community. Some say yes based on fossilized footprints, others say no based on the hunting patterns of similar animals. There's one thing that's for sure though: they just weren't as intelligent as the films made them out to be. It simply isn't feasible for a dinosaur to figure out how to open doors guys, sorry.

So, in short, Jurassic Park's raptors may not be as deadly as they're made out to be due to being slower than you think as well as their signature claw not being such a lethal weapon. However, that doesn't stop them from being pretty darned deadly.

Wrapping Up...

So thanks for reading guys, I hope you enjoyed it. If so, I have a youtube channel over at Eneition where I do similar things, so feel free to check that out, I like to think we do good stuff. Are you guys looking forward to Jurassic World? Let us know below and until next time, enjoy your lives.


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