Velociraptor was a small, carnivorous dinosaur that lived in Mongolia during the Late Cretaceous, 71 to 75 million years ago. Unlike the fictional movie counterpart that made this species famous, the real Velociraptor was only about the size of a turkey and was covered in feathers. Despite its diminutive stature and feathery appearance, Velociraptor was an effective predator that used its dangerously sharp teeth and claws to subdue small prey and other dinosaurs.
Velociraptor was first discovered in the Gobi Desert,Mongolia, during an expedition organized by the American Museum ofNatural History in 1923. Velociraptor was described and named the following year. Velociraptor literally means 'swift robber', while thespecies name V. mongoliensis refers to the country where it wasunearthed.
Velociraptor belongs to a group of 'raptor' type dinosaursmore properly known as dromaeosaurids. This group includes theChinese Microraptor and Sinornithosaurus, which have both been found preserved witha beautiful covering of feathers. Because dromaeosaurids are soclosely related, it is certain that they all, including Velociraptor, had feathers. Although no soft tissues orfeathers have ever been found preserved alongside a Velociraptor skeleton, structures called 'quill knobs' havebeen identified on a Velociraptor arm. These bump-like features are also presentin modern-day birds and indicate the attachment points of large armfeathers. The feathered, wing-like arms of Velociraptor were not suitable for flight, but may have beenused in mating displays, to help regulate its temperature, or tohelp to cover their nests when they were brooding eggs.