A pack of two-legged creatures sprints across a desert about 70 million years ago. The dinos are each about six feet from the tip of their noses to the end of their long tails, but they’re only about as tall as a turkey. The group spots a Protoceraptops, an older cousin of Triceratops. Running 24 miles an hour, about as fast as a professional bicycle racer, the pack works together to chase the herbivore, jump on top of it, and grip the prey with two-inch-long claws. Then they feast using their 60 serrated teeth.
Velociraptor lived in what’s now called the Gobi Desert in Mongolia—it’s one of the few places on Earth that has nearly the same habitat now as it did during the time of the dinosaurs. In addition to larger dinos, this small carnivore likely also snacked on little lizards, mammals, dino eggs, and baby dinosaurs. It might’ve even eaten other baby Velociraptors. Scientists named this dino using the Greek words meaning “quick thief” for the way it might have stolen its meals.
Experts think Velociraptor was probably one of the smarter dinosaurs because it has a large brain in proportion to its body size. And based on the size of the part of the skull that holds the scent-processing part of the brain, experts think Velociraptor had an excellent sense of smell.
Recent research on one of the species, Velociraptor mongoliensis, has found that Velociraptor was a feathered dinosaur. But it couldn’t fly—its forelimbs were too short. Instead, the plumage might’ve been used to keep it warm and attract mates, just as modern birds use their colorful feathers. Also like birds, Velociraptor had hollow bones and tended nests of eggs.