THE movie Jurassic Park propelled velociraptor to fame, but in real life the dinosaur was an altogether different kind of killer. Far from using its sickle claws to slash and disembowel, the velociraptor was a diminutive beast that used its claws to cling onto prey animals while working over them with its teeth.
Phil Manning at the University of Manchester, UK, and colleagues built a robotic claw based on fossils of velociraptor and deinonychus, a 3-metre-long, 80-kilogram relative, to test its slashing power. They used hydraulics to drive it into a side of pork at different velocities, mimicking a kick, but rather than slashing, the claw only punctured the flesh.
Manning now thinks that velociraptor gripped its herbivorous prey much like a lion grips a buffalo (Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2005.0395). "Velociraptor wouldn't be shaken off by the powerful movements of larger prey animals, because the toe claws provided such a firm grip," says Paul Barrett of the Natural History Museum in London. The velociraptor would then use its razor-sharp teeth to make slashing wounds, so that its prey bled to death.
Source Citation:"The real raptor inflicted death by a thousand bites." New Scientist 188.2522 (Oct 22, 2005): 22(1). Academic OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 31 Aug. 2009
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