Fight to the Death

Article | Updated 5 years ago

Velociraptor attacking a Protoceratops

Velociraptor attacking a Protoceratops
Image Peter Schouten

Velociraptor may have weakened large prey by leaping onto their back and driving its huge claws deep into the flesh.

The powerful beak of Protoceratops was a formidable defensive weapon. By leaping onto its back, Velociraptor could have used its huge claws to dig in and inflict terrible wounds while staying clear of the beak. Although Velociraptor’s wings were too small to allow it to fly, they would have been ideal for keeping balance when attacking prey.

EASTERN ASIA
(75 million years ago)

A map of EASTERN ASIA 75 million years ago

Feathered predators

In 2007, evidence indicating Velociraptor had feathers was found on the forearm bones of a 75-million-year-old specimen. Velociraptor probably preyed on small mammals and lizards, pinning them to the ground with its enlarged, sickle-shaped claw of the second toe. Some scientists believe Velociraptor and close relatives, also used their enlarged claws to climb trees.

Beaked prey

Protoceratops, like all ornithischian dinosaurs, had a predentary bone that formed the beak of their lower jaw. The jaws of Protoceratops were lined with numerous, small teeth that formed a scissor-like tool that sliced up tough plants. Skeletons of Protoceratops have been found in large numbers suggesting they lived in herds and sometimes died together, perhaps during a flood.

A nest with 15 hatchlings was probably buried by a migrating sand dune

Protoceratops nest
The nest opposite with 15 hatchlings was probably buried by a migrating sand dune. It was found in 75 million-year-old rocks in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia. It indicates Protoceratops may have cared for their young.
IMAGE: MARK WEICH

 

Protoceratops stands 1m tall

Protoceratops andrewsi

NAMED BY GRANGER & GREGORY, 1923.

Diet Plants
Height 1.0m
Length 2.0m
Width 0.5m

 

Velociraptor stands 0.8m high

Velociraptor mongoliensis

NAMED BY OSBORN, 1924.

Diet Animals
Height 0.8m
Length 2.0m
Width 0.3m

 

Excavating the fossilised skeletons

Excavating the fossilised skeletons
PALAEOZOOLOGICAL INSTITUTE OF THE POLISH ACADEMY OF SCIENCES