Ignorance Is Bliss: Why The Less We Know About Velociraptors, The Better Off We Are.
Show of hands…prior to Jurassic Park who knew what a Velociraptor was? Hmm just the Paleontologists? Despite being the alpha badass of the Jurassic Park movies, it’s very doubtful anyone knew about this killing machine prior to watching Jurassic Park. The only thing we American kids would have seen similar was Deinonychus and to be honest, T-Rex was way cooler then. Soon after Jurassic Park, the Velociraptor became to dinosaurs what Boba Fett was to Star Wars: a bad-ass. Old favorites like Brachiosaurus, Triceratops and Allosaurus were put on the back burner as everyone clamored over the man-sized, smarter-than-the-average-dinosaur, Velociraptor. To be fair, why shouldn’t we? That movie made the Velociraptor the coolest dinosaur ever….the only problem is that according to science, everything we love about the Velociraptor is wrong:
Problem 1: They Were Only 3 Feet Tall.
Part of the appeal to the Velociraptor in Jurassic Park was that it was our size. But in real life, the Velociraptors were only 3 feet tall. To some degree this makes them kinda scarier, just imagine how much freakier that scene in The Lost World would have been when the InGEN dino-catchers were running through that field of deep grass. Even though it was hard to see the man-size raptors, just imagine pygmy raptors taking everyone out…freakin’ scary. However this new size status does kill their killing machine credibility, if we had a man size killing machine our first instinct is “oh shit RUNNNN!!!” but if a menacing 3 foot tall raptor came at you it’d be like kicking a small dog or a toddler (not that I do that, but just go with me on this analogy)…you may be able to take it on. I just feel that this new size probably increases your chances of surviving a fight with one. This obviously doesn’t rule out that they have sharp teeth and that sickle shaped claw, it could still disembowel you in a few seconds, but if you can give it a nice hard kick under the chin or in the chest you might buy yourself enough time to escape.
Problem 2: They Looked Like Birds
In Jurassic Park, Dr. Alan Grant expressed his theory of dinosaurs evolving into birds many, many times. This was pretty cool because when I went to my friend Blake’s house, they raised rheas (like ostriches but more feathery and shorter necked). It felt very much like Jurassic Park when I visited (they even had a “hatchery”). This dinos evolving into bird theory even made that one time we got into the pen with them and got stuck on the feeder seem more like a dinosaur attack. The feeder in hindsight was a very bad idea to go to for safety b/c we got surrounded pretty quick with a bunch of impatient rheas snapping at us wanting to be fed. In the end I got out unscathed, Blake on the other hand got bit and tore his brand new jeans up (we made a convincing story about him getting them caught on the door).
However, nowhere in the movie or books does Dr. Grant mention they were feathered. A while back I showed you how a feathered T-rex looks like. That picture above just degrades the terror level of Velociraptors, they seemed scarier when there were no feathers.
Problem 3: Your Cat or Dog Is Smarter Than Velociraptors Ever Were
In the movies, the raptors set traps for humans, they knew how to open doors, they would play dead near a tube of water to try to eat Tea Leoni’s face off. In short, they were probably the smartest dinosaurs in the movies.
However, it would seem that while Velociraptors were probably the smartest dinosaurs out there, they had a brain EQ of less than .20 (kinda like an IQ test for animals based on brain size vs body size)they were most likely just as smart as an ostrich (Humans would rank in around a 5 and Dolphins 3.5 on this scale). Needless to say, your Dog or Cat is smarter than a velociraptor. So now we got a dumb, turkey-sized feathered dinosaur, the chances of surviving a velociraptor attack is looking up!
So, most of modern science points to our chances of surviving an encounter with a Velociraptor right along the same level as how likely we would survive an encounter with a very pissed off chicken. But before we get too much of an ego there’s a few things Velociraptor still has going for it.
1. It’s Claw Would Probably Still Do Damage:
The sickle shaped claw is obviously the Velociraptor’s best weapon. These claws was around 3 inches long and if that sounds small; remember it’s not the size it’s how you use it! The Velociraptor likely disemboweled its prey and let its victims bleed out, so they used it pretty well. As for damage…my cat has .5 inch claws (if even that) and my arm is witness to the damage it can cause, so a 3 inch claw can do some heavy damage.
2. Velociraptor Had Bigger Cousins:
Thanks to science, velociraptor has been painted now as a small, feathered, kinda stupid dinosaur. However, it’s cousin the Deinonychus was around 12 feet long and it’s even bigger cousin, the Utahraptor was around 23 feet long and weighed about 1-2,000 lbs!!! So if they started a “family business” situation, there would be some Hell to pay.
3. One Of The Fossils of Velociraptor Has It Going Out Like A Bad-Ass!:
Despite its size, the Velociraptor was probably quite the scrapper! This is one of the most famous fossils found of the Velociraptor where it is forever frozen in time taking out a pig sized dino called a Protoceratops (sounds like a cyborg). So it went out killing something bigger with it’s claw slicing it’s prey’s throat. Sounds like the Velociraptor really was a B.A.M.F.!!!! Not even falling into a lake or getting caught in a sandstorm, as theorized as the cause of death, stopped it from it’s job of killing other dinosaurs.
Overall, I’m for playing the idiot card and picturing my Velociraptors as scaled, man-sized, cunning killing machines. It’s more fun that way and it adds some intensity to the movies and since science is all about ruining childhoods these days, I’m all for sticking to the old school way of thinking back when Pluto was a planet and dinosaurs had no feathers….even though this picture is pretty terrifying:
Jurassic Park Week at PopCultureAsylum continues tomorrow with a look at cool scenes that sadly didn’t get made for the movie.
If you missed yesterday’s entry check it out here
See you tomorrow!