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Velociraptor Had Feathers 189

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the well-and-wings-to-put-them-on dept.
Spy der Mann writes "A new look at some old bones have shown that velociraptor, the dinosaur made famous in the movie Jurassic Park, had feathers. A paper describing the discovery, made by paleontologists at the American Museum of Natural History and the Field Museum of Natural History, appears in the Sept. 21 issue of the journal Science."
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Velociraptor Had Feathers

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  • by flimflam (21332) on Friday September 21, 2007 @06:33AM (#20694425) Homepage
  • by Chess_the_cat (653159) on Friday September 21, 2007 @06:36AM (#20694445) Homepage
    What was depicted in the movie Jurassic Park was clearly Deinonychus. Velociraptor didn't have that large inner claw. In fact, the name Deinonychus means Terrible Claw while Velociraptor means Speedy Predator. I suspect they misnamed the dinosaur in the movie because the name Raptor was more marketable to children.
    • by caluml (551744) <slashdot@spCOWam ... minus herbivore> on Friday September 21, 2007 @07:04AM (#20694633) Homepage
      What was depicted in the movie Jurassic Park was clearly Deinonychus.

      I think you'll find it was just computer generated.
    • Velociraptors as big as the ones in the film weren't found when the first Jurassic Park movie was made, and anyway they had flatter snouts. The animals in the movie were always Deinonychii (pl?), with that rounder head, rigid tail and sickle claw on each foot.

      Just looked up when the Utah raptor was discovered - 1993 according to Wikipedia. Hmm... might be close either way. The book was from '90 and the film was released in '93. Hmm...
    • maybe because of (Score:2, Informative)

      by g4b (956118)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_issues_in_Jurassic_Park

      Deinonychus was rechristened by some authors, which happens moreoften, like the all known Brontosaurus which is named Apatosaurus.

      There have been renamings all along, including to believe in a species and revoking his own line. Happened to the Gorgosaurus, too. Depends which line of Paleonotology you follow, there was always big debate over such things from the beginning of this science.
    • by Yold (473518)
      Velociraptor does not mean Speedy Predator, raptor means theif.

      And the Megaraptor, not the Deinonychus, was the villan of the JP movies.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Yold (473518)
        BTW, contrary to parent post, a Velociraptor did have a large 3-4 inch scyth-like claw.
    • by ari_j (90255)
      They were velociraptors in the novel. Whether it was Crichton, Spielberg, or someone else at fault for any inaccuracies in the visual description or portrayal of the creature, it was Crichton who wrote about velociraptors, and I somehow doubt that he did so in order to make his novel marketable to children.
    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday September 21, 2007 @11:33AM (#20698059)

      What was depicted in the movie Jurassic Park was clearly Deinonychus.


      I thought the general consensus was that the JP "Velociraptor" was definitely to big for a Velociraptor and probably a bit too big for Deinonychus, and probably most similar in size and body plan to Utahraptor (though a bit small); at any rate, most likely, the CGI critter was designed based on Velociraptor and then scaled up till had the desired dramatic appearance on screen, so calling it "clearly" any particular bird is probably mistaken; it is a fictional creation based loosely on then-current ideas about Velociraptor adapted to fit a particular theatrical vision.

      Velociraptor didn't have that large inner claw.


      Actually, the "sickle claw" is a distinguishing feature of the family Dromosauridae of which Deinonychus, Utahraptor, Velociraptor, and a whole host of other relatives are members.
  • Missing Link? (Score:2, Interesting)

    So is velociraptor going to be announced as the earliest known ancestor of birds?

    I wonder why other velociraptor fossils haven't been found with feathers, if all velociraptors had them? If this is the first one where feathers were identified then I'd ask if it really is the same species. Is it possible that this new fossil is a different species, but one where the skeleton was close enough to velociraptor that a fossilized version is originally identified as one?

    • Re:Missing Link? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rucs_hack (784150) on Friday September 21, 2007 @06:42AM (#20694491)
      the suspicion is that all dinosours had feathers.

      Feather are made from the same stuff as scales, chitin (snakes and so on), its just a form of scale thats better suited to temperature regulation. Having feathers did not mean flight was even possible, that would have required specific adaption that feathers would probably have helped, but it would have been some environmental push, not the feathers themselves that caused birds to emerge.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Feathers/scales/hair/fingernails are all made of keratin, not chitin. Feathers are a form of scales??? Why the fax machine is nothing but a waffle iron with a phone attached!
      • the suspicion is that all dinosours had feathers.

        I don't think that is theory, but instead that quite a lot of theropod dinosaurs (aside from birds, which are theropod dinosaurs and indisputably have feathers) had feathers, and that many that have not been previously recognized as such are actually not just "theropod dinosaurs with feathers", but actually birds (Velociraptor included.)
    • So is velociraptor going to be announced as the earliest known ancestor of birds?

      That would assume evolution works as a ladder - but it doesn't. It's more like a tree. This indicates that velociraptor *could* be an ancestor of birds; probably more likely is that they share a common ancestor.

      If this is the first one where feathers were identified then I'd ask if it really is the same species. Is it possible that this new fossil is a different species, but one where the skeleton was close enough to velo

    • Not bird ancestor (Score:3, Interesting)

      by YetAnotherBob (988800)
      Velociraptor was a late dinosaur. there had already been birds around for a while. Not a bird, just a distant cousin.

      Indications are that all dinos had down as young, probably had feathers growing up. May have lost them, if they were the large species, may not have. All the species I am aware of had stones in the chest cavity, when found whole, indicative of a gizzard. Like birds, the large species also had hollow bones. That saves weight. In birds, it helps the power to weight ratio which is vital for flig
      • by evilviper (135110)

        Preditor/prey ratios also indicate that they were warm blooded.
        ...And the massive size of the largest dinosaurs entirely precludes the possibility of being warm blooded, lest they have to eat for more hours than there is in a day to maintain their weight.
    • I wonder why other velociraptor fossils haven't been found with feathers, if all velociraptors had them?


      There has been considerable, IIRC, evidence of feathers in velociraptor fossils previously, and evidence of feathers throughout the same family, which there is some reason to believe are actually birds. But feathers don't fossilize really well, and most of the evidence for velociraptor in particular has been indirect indications.

    • So is velociraptor going to be announced as the earliest known ancestor of birds?


      Probably not; IIRC, there is some evidence the other way around, that is, that Archaeopteryx, generally accepted as the first bird, may be an ancestor of Velociraptor, which would then be a flightless bird.
      • by jc42 (318812)
        ... Archaeopteryx, generally accepted as the first bird, may be an ancestor of Velociraptor, which would then be a flightless bird.

        Minor quibble: Some of the bird fossils recently found in China are dated to a few millions years before the earliest Archaeopterix fossils, and appear somewhat more modern in many respects. It's more likely that Archaeopterix was in a clade that branched off early, and died out. But this is all still a lot of speculation, as there are significant error bars on all the dates.
  • by mrRay720 (874710) on Friday September 21, 2007 @06:39AM (#20694467)
    Constantly being tarred and feathered, the poor velociraptors were often the butt of the larger dinosaurs' jokes.

    Nowhere is there proof that the 'raptors actually grew those feathers out of their skin!
  • by Xyde (415798)
    I'm sure XKCD will have something to say about this. We welcome our Mwahahah flying, feathered velociraptor overlords! ..first post!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Quinnie (1152605)
      No one tell Randall Munroe about this, or he'll start running away from birds.
  • Does that mean Spielberg is going to retouch Jurassic Park to add feathers?
  • by Kildjean (871084) on Friday September 21, 2007 @06:49AM (#20694537) Homepage
    Barrens Velociraptors, and most of them found through Azeroth have feathers too. Are these types related or they are distant cousins.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday September 21, 2007 @06:53AM (#20694567)
    I just can't take a giant feathered dinosaur seriously, even if it is chewing my face off. Just looks like a big fruity lizard with a feather boa, probably going to catch a Broadway show when it's done devouring me.
    • by hey! (33014)
      Kind of makes the E. Dickinson poem a bit more ... diabolical.

      Hope is the thing with feathers
      That perches in the soul,
      And sings the tune--without the words,
      And never stops at all...


  • by Big Nothing (229456) <big.nothing@bigger.com> on Friday September 21, 2007 @07:02AM (#20694613)
    This will teach all of Jeff Goldblum's critics a well deserved lesson!

  • by DanielMarkham (765899) * on Friday September 21, 2007 @07:06AM (#20694649) Homepage
    What with America being so overweight and all, now we have to bring back the 'raptors.

    I can see it now. A car pulls up to the drive-through. "I'd like the 48-pound chicken bucket, 4 pounds of mashed potatoes, and a 10-pound sack of beaks and feet"

    "Would you like that Crunchy Jurassic, or Original Recipe?"
    • by z0idberg (888892) on Friday September 21, 2007 @07:11AM (#20694683)
      and a diet Coke.
    • Yes, the raptors should be brought back... but not to feed the portly. Rather, to cull the herd.

      You can bet that more people will stick to their diets (or "lifestyle changes" if "diet" is too non-PC) if their intact survival depends on outrunning velociraptors.

      Actually, there would be no possibility of outrunning the raptors. However, the principle still applies, since there would be a need to outrun the poor slob running next to you.
  • Deinonychus Scale Drawing [wikipedia.org]

    Look out dude, its going for your leg!

  • by OfficialReverendStev (988479) on Friday September 21, 2007 @07:52AM (#20694979)
    See, in the article it mentions briefly before getting to the feather part that the Veliciraptor may be smaller than originally thought. Then it goes on about how this guy found bumps on the arm bone that correspond to bumps on the same bone in birds. Alright. But then it mentions that the bumps have never been found on any Velociraptor bones before.

    My question: Why is the conclusion that Velociraptor had feathers and not that they've discovered a different species?
  • I was very disappointed to hear that they now believe velociraptors had feathers. Not very menacing when they look like tall chickens.

    The process of discovering this new feathery information was shown in a lame IMAX documentary called Dinosaurs Alive! [dinosalive.com], narrated by Michael Douglas. It's playing now in a number of markets as both a 2D and 3D film.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I was very disappointed to hear that they now believe velociraptors had feathers. Not very menacing when they look like tall chickens.

      Isn't that like saying that a lion doesn't look so menacing since it's fluffy and looks like a kitty from a distance?

      I suspect they probably looked a little more menacing than simply a chicken. :-P

      Cheers
      • by Luthair (847766)
        It doesn't matter, I just can't take them seriously anymore. I mean feathers, come on!
        • by Se7enLC (714730)
          science be damned, I'm still going to see them the same way I saw them in Jurassic Park, and I'm still going to carry a super soaker of Welch's Grape Juice and raptor-proof my house.
    • by crashfrog (126007)
      Not very menacing when they look like tall chickens.

      That's what I used to think, until I saw someone pecked to death by an angry emu...
      • by jc42 (318812)
        OTOH, among my pictures that I like to impress people with are several with me standing with an arm around a very friendly emu. The critter was a pet of some friends. It really liked having its head and neck scratched, just like our cockatiels and conure do. They made an emu-egg omelet when I was visiting last year, which fed 6 people breakfast.

        Emus do have some serious-looking claws on their feet, though. I don't think I'd want to get too close to one that wasn't tame.

        Considering that our favorite pets
  • The Velociraptor stupid. Geesh
  • Some people say you were a ferocious killing machine.

    Some people say you hunted in packs.

    Some people say you're a giant chicken.
    </chicken boo>
  • The article says 'The Velociraptor in the current study is estimated to have been one meter tall, 1.5 meters long and weighed just over 13 kilograms'.

    Although this is probably accurate ('cause a pelican can have a wingspan of 2 - 3 meters and weigh as much) how much of a 'vicious carnivore' can a 13 kg creature really be?

    ]{

  • Not exactly news (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tarlus (1000874) on Friday September 21, 2007 @11:07AM (#20697593)
    I remember reading an article in National Geographic many years ago about this. The ultimate speculation was that birds of prey (like ravens) had descended from velociraptors.
    • by jgrahn (181062)

      I remember reading an article in National Geographic many years ago about this. The ultimate speculation was that birds of prey (like ravens) had descended from velociraptors.

      Uh, ravens are not birds of prey, they are (like most birds) passerines. Sounds very speculative, if you ask me.

  • by zymurgyboy (532799) <zymurgyboy@@@yahoo...com> on Friday September 21, 2007 @11:57AM (#20698479)
    TFA:

    "It's sort of as if you scaled up a chicken and then gave it really nasty teeth and big claws on its feet," he said.
    Mega Ultra Chicken? No, shhhh, he is legend!

    BillyWitchDoctor.com deals mostly in chicken.

  • by merikari (205531)
    This just in. Velociraptors were a bit more gay than previously thought.
  • by SendBot (29932) on Friday September 21, 2007 @05:13PM (#20704705) Homepage Journal
    I've been harvesting feathers off of raptors for months now.

    http://www.wowhead.com/?search=raptor%20feather [wowhead.com]

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