Utahraptor is the largest Dromeosaur dinosaur yet known, it's name comes from the place it's fossils were discovered and it's suggested lifestyle, Utah, and Raptor which means predator. Aside from being a Raptor species, it's most notable feature is it's size. Utahraptor was much larger than other Raptors, it measured 23 feet long and around 8-9 feet off the ground at the head, and it's weight is estimated at 1,100 lbs. Although there are some specimens that may have measured up to 36 feet long, making it a full third larger than previously thought, but these fossils are still in need of more detailed study before we will know.
The first fossils of Utahraptor were discovered in 1975 by Jim Jensen in the Dalton Wells quarry of Utah, making it relatively new to paleontology. Since then more fossil evidence has been uncovered and at one time it was suggested to be renamed Utahraptor Spielbergi in honor of famous filmmaker Steven Spielberg in exchange for dig funding. Unfortunately no definiteive amount of money for funding could be reached and the initiative never went through.
In most respects whatever can be said about Deinonychus and Velociraptor can probably be said about Utahraptor, only scaled up to size. This is because we know less about Utahraptor personally than we do about it's more famous relatives but due to inference amongst clades, meaning that known things about more well known species/subspecies can be used to try to fill in the holes about relatives, although this is by no means an exact science and has often been conclusively wrong in many cases such as the appearance of Spinosaurus in the past, the posture of most dinosaurs and even the correct bones such as the skull of some species such as Apatosaurus. But when working with the past we have to do the best we can.
Utahraptor, like it's Dromeosaur kin is suspected as being predatory, and may well have been, at least Post-Fall when death entered the world and animals began eating one another. It should be noted that it has recently been discovered and published ( 2011) that the majority of Theropod dinosaurs, considered since their fossils were found to be fierce predators, were actually omnivorous, meaning they also ate vegetation at least part of the time. This fits perfectly with the Creationist account for Dinosaurs in history since the Bible states that before Sin everything was vegetarian. But Evolutionary views of history have long painted these creatures as blood thirsty monsters that thrived on raw flesh alone and evolved over millions of years into these murderous creatures out of a need for it. These two views are clearly directly confrontational and only one could be right. It seems that Utahraptor and it's kin, along with all the other animals are evidence for the Creation account instead of the Evolutionary account, as is usually the case.
A carnivorous Theropod dinosaur whose name means "swift seizer". It is believed to have gone extinct between 71-75 million years ago during the late Cretaceous period according to Uniformitarian models. However the data does not support this. This dinosaur was made exceptionally popular by the Jurassic Park films where they are portrayed as swift and super intelligent killers even larger than a full grown man. However, in reality Velociraptors were actually much smaller than their silver screen alter egos. A full grown Velociraptor may not even come up to an adult humans knee. The animals in the famous films were based largely on a cousin to Velociraptor, Deinonychus. Yet the two are very similar anatomically.
The first fossil evidence for the species was obtained by Peter Kaisen on August 11, 1923 in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Since then it has been studied in depth as more remains have come to light and it is one of the best known dinosaur fossils. During much of the 20th century American paleontologists were kept out of Mongolian dig-sites due to Communism, which allowed Soviet and Polish teams to uncover many well known Velociraptor fossils, including the famous "Fighting Dinosaurs" remains in 1971 which is comprised of a single specimen each of Velociraptor and Protoceratops preserved during combat (such preservation would had to happen instantly such as the human remains of the Vesuvius eruption). The fossil(s) are considered a national treasure of Mongolia but have been on display in America before.
Velociraptor was a mid-sized Dromeosaurid (light-framed and graceful) dinosaur. An adult would measure only about 19 inches tall at the top of the hip but a whopping 6.8 feet in length, making it low to the ground and very long, likely for balance while running quickly through vegetation. It's skull was long and slender, and unique in that it's snout was slight curved upwards(though it is not known if this would be visible on a living specimen with tissue). They possessed 26-28 teeth on either side of their mouth. Each tooth was more strongly serrated on the back of the tooth than the front. The reason for this design is not yet known to paleontologists. Though if Velociraptors were omnivorous as it appears many Theropods were, this would not be an adaptation solely for predation and may have helped in consuming some types of plant matter or possibly both. It should be noted that in the last several years, a few studies have been done that heavily suggest that Velociraptors were also scavengers. With all these studies combined it seems to paint the picture that Velociraptors were opportunistic animals capable of hunting, scavenging and foraging to fit whatever food sources were available.
As with other Dromeosaurid dinosaurs, Velociraptors had large "hands" with 3 fingers that possessed large claws which they used for grasping and holding onto prey. The large claw on the second digit on the foot is what these animals are best known for. A large sickle style claw resides on this toe and was long believed to be used for disemboweling prey by slashing the abdomen, recent fossil discoveries however have led many to believe that instead of being use for this purpose, the animals used them to cut through vital areas such as the throat. The large claw may have been used in more a fashion as how a cat kicks repeatedly to scratch and slash an opponent in battle but directed in a more offensive manner.
Velociraptor is the most often used example of feathered dinosaurs, giving rise to the theory of birds evolving from Theropod dinosaurs. This is discussed in another section called Scales to Feathers
There have been reports of creatures resembling Velociraptors from several places around the world such as Puerto Rico, Turkey and the U.S.A. These reports, while unconfirmed, have led some to believe these animals to be the identity of the Chupacabras of Puerto Rico and several other local animal phenomena, however this is mostly speculation so far, but hey, it's fun to speculate.
Deinonychus should be well known to many people,even if they are unaware of the fact. This is because the "Velociraptors" in the blockbuster "Jurassic Park" films were actually based off Deinonychus skeletons. They used the name Velociraptor because it sounded "cooler" and because of findings at the time of the first movies release.
Deinonychus is believed by evolutionary researchers to have lived in North America 115-108 million years ago in the middle of the Cretaceous period (mid Aptian to early Albian stage), alongide many other unique organisms. To date, fossil remains have been discovered in Montana, Wyoming and Oklahoma. Though as with any extinct species, we cannot know Deinonychus' full range based solely on where fossil remains HAVE been found since fossilization is a unique occurrence and can only tell us where an individual organism was buried.
The first fossil remains of a Deinonychus were uncovered in southern Montana near the town of Billings in 1931 by Barnum Brown and his dig team. Brown was actually concerned with the axcavation and preparation of Tenontosaurus. He wrote in his field notes that they discovered very near a Tenontosaurus skeleton, the remains of a small carnivorous theropod dinosaur in limestoneand initially called it "Daptosaurus Agilis". Brown brought back the remains of the carnivore he unearthed but never described it in his work. decades later, John Ostrom while reviewing Brown's work, stumbled upon the remains of a carnivore Brown had described in notes that had oversized teeth. In reality the skeleton that Brown had assigned the teeth to was a Microvenator skeleton, although the teeth were Deinonychus teeth.
In 1964 Ostrom began expeditions to Montana which over the next several years lead to the uncovering of over 1,000 bones, including 3 individual specimens. Given the difficulty in associating the bones however, the holotype remains were assigned to the the body parts Deinonychus and relatives are best known for. It's feet.
Deinonychus was a medium sized Dromaeosaurid theropod whose name means "Terrible Claw". An adult Deinonychus would have measured around 3 1/2- 4 foot tall at the head and around 2 1/2 foot tall at the hip. An adult specimen would have also measured around 11 feet long from nose to tail and had a skull almost 1 1/2 foot long. An adult Deinonychus is estimated to ahve weighed around 160 lbs, roughly the same as an adult White tail deer.
Deinonychus had 70 recurved, blade-like teeth that in all likelihood came in handy in the post fall world for predation, but could have just as easily been used for slicing vegetation before sin came into the world. It is highly believed based on fossil skull remains, that Deinonychus had stereoscopic vision.
Deinonychus, like several other theropod species, had large Manus aka "hands" with 3 digits on each manus. Though they were likely not as modile as depicted in the Jurassic Park movies. It is unkown how much they used their hands and what they used them for, but it has been proposed that they could have been used for a great number of functions.
Deinonychus' telltale feature was of course it's feet that bore a large sickle shaped claw on the second digit that measured at least 4.7 inches long in mature specimens. It is currenlty not fully established what these large claws were used for though numerous propisitions have been made including digging, slashing at prey, slashing during fights, aid in climbing, and several other pruposes. Itmay be that they were used for all these purposes since unique features rarely exist for a single purpose. It has long been portrayed that Deinonychus and similar Dromaeosaurs such as Velociraptor Mongoliensis used their large sickle shaped hind claws to slash prey to cause horrific wounds to help in subduing the prey animal. It is unclear if this is accurate and one test performed on a pig carcass has shown that the claws may have been better suited for stabbing puncture wounds rather than slashing gashes.
It is strongly indicated by fossilized trackways that Deinonychus' large hind claws were held off the ground. It is of interest that the size and curvature of the large hind claws varies between specimens, indicating that the size and curvature may be based on age or gender, though it is unkown.
Unfortunately, like many other theropod dinosaurs, Deinonychus has become a useful tool in the promulgation of the baseless teaching that many theropod dinosaurs had feathers. This artistic portrayal comes in abscence of, and often in spite of, actual fossil evidence. To date there have been no theropod remains uncovered with clear feather remains. Much of this portrayal is based on evolutionary ideaology pushed so heavily on scientific work rather than actual fossil remains since no clear skin impressions of Deinonychus have been uncovered yet. So it seems disigenuous to portray a large reptile with feathers regardless of actual fossil evidence, simply because a philosophical axiom drives the artistic rendering. More information about the association of dinosaurs and feathers can be found in our Scales or Feathers? section of the website.
The environment that Deinonychus lived in was a habitat similar to that of many southern U.S. swamps of tropical, subtropical swampy areas with sloughs, rivers, deltas, etc. Highly akin to Louisiana swamps today especially though without the annual winter cycle. It is unknown if Deinonychus was a strict carnivore and based on recent findings that suggest that most theropod species were omnivorous, it seems plausible that Deinonychus too was omnivorous if not all the time. Such an environment in the pre-flood world would have given Deinonychus ample food, water, space and cover to thrive in, and could also help explain the use of the large hind claws for climbing the many trees in the swampy environment.
It is a shame that such an interesting animal as Deinonychus has become yet another tool used to indoctrinate people into believing Macro Evolution. Such an amazing creature could by no means have evolved by numerous accidents in and addition to, genetic material of other kinds of organisms. Such a unique organism shows obvious signs of a wise designer. All these things point us inexplicably to the Genesis account in the Bible where an all knowing, loving God made all known kinds of organisms in creation week in a world that was originally beautiful and without sin. Perhaps one day we can see Deinonychus and the world in their original states if we accept Christ as our savior. It would be glorious to spend eternity on the new Earth with God Himself showing us and teaching us about His marvelous creation, including Deinonychus.