Dinosauria Online

Say hello to: UTAHRAPTOR


[ Utahraptor skeliton |

Pronounced: U - taw - Rap - tor
Diet: Carnivore (Meat-Eater)
Name Means: "Utah Robber"
Length: 23 feet (7 m)
Height: 8 feet (2.7 m)
Weight: 1 tons (900 kilos)
Time: Cretaceous

When the movie "Jurassic Park" was released, dinosaur fans everywhere complained that director Steven Spielberg had made his movie Velociraptors much larger than they were in real life. In the midst of this controversy, Dr. James Kirkland and paleontology student Rob Gaston unearthed the real-life giant raptor that was shown in the movie - only bigger! Utahraptor was huge, and with its big killing claws, strong arms and hands, and sharp teeth, it was one of the most ferocious killers on the planet.

One of the most unique aspects that Utahraptor shares with its more famous cousin Velociraptor is that both had a lethal killing claw on each foot. Each inside toe had a large (about 10 inches) hooked claw that was controlled by a strong tendon. This claw was held upward when the animal was walking or running. When it attacked, however, the tendon snapped tight and the claw clamped down with great speed and force, slicing deeply into its victim. Not a very pretty picture, but an effective way to inflict a serious wound.

Utahraptor is the oldest known, and largest, of the dromaeosaurids. This is interesting as it points to a family that shrunk over time. Its hand claws were proportionally larger than other family members and Dr. Kirkland speculates that its hand claws were probably as important a weapon as the killing claws on its feet. Utahraptor is the subject of a best-selling book by Dr. Robert Bakker. Entitled "Raptor Red," it is currently being developed into a motion picture.