Deinonychus antirrhopus

  • Pronounced:  die - Non - ih - kiss

  • Diet:  Carnivore (Meat-Eater)

  • Name Means:  "Terrible Claw"

  • Length:  10 feet (3 m)

  • Height:  4 feet (1.2 m)

  • Weight:  110 pounds (50 kilos)

  • Time:  Early/Mid Cretaceous - 120 MYA

Fossil remains for this Dinosaur have been found in Western North America

Deinonychus was a fast and vicious hunter. Its name means "terrible claw," and it was given this name because of the large, retractable hunting claw on each of its feet. Like its cousin, the Velociraptor  it used this claw to tear into the flesh of the dinosaurs it hunted. The claw would snap forward and make a large, deep wound when it attacked. Deinonychus was about twice as big as Velociraptor 

Deinonychus is probably the best known of the dromeasaurids, with nine specimens having been discovered since the genus was established in 1962 by John Ostrum. An interesting feature about this dinosaur is that its teeth are more backward pointing than other, larger theropods, suggesting that they are designed for feeding and not for the killing of prey. This points to the effectiveness of its hand and foot claws as weapons. Its skeletal design, according to Ostrum, clearly points to a very active predatory lifestyle - a hunter with both speed and agility. Its hands were very large and had a great range of movement and flexibility. As the dinosaur grew, long tendons along its tail hardened into a bone-like material to stiffen it and make it a useful mechanism for maintaining balance and direction in quick turns. A few scientists have argued that Deinonychus is a North American species of Velociraptor  and does not merit its own genus.

In his 1986 book The Dinosaur Heresies, Dr. Robert Bakker puts forth the view that Deinonychus has many features found in birds and might be considered either a bird-like dinosaur or a dinosaur-like bird. Recent research and discoveries by scientists such as Dr. Philip Currie are showing that some dinosaurs similar to Deinonychus most likely had feather-like coverings on all or part of their bodies. These proto-feathers were most likely used for insulation, display, or both, and may eventually have evolved into flight feathers. To date, these have not been found on Deinonychus.

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