If Jurassic Park taught me anything, it was that velociraptors were fast, deadly and terrifying predators. But it turns out that might not be true, because a team of researchers has discovered that ‘raptors were scavengers.
A team of scientists has analysed the skeleton of a ‘raptor found in the Gobi desert, Mongolia, and discovered that it had the bone of a pterosaur — a massive flying dinosaur with a 2-meter wingspan — in its belly.
But the scientists point out that a velocirapor would never have taken on a pterosaur. Firstly, unlike the way they’re depicted in Jurassic Park, velociraptors were only about a foot and a half tall, so were too small to battle a pterosaur. Second, uh, they couldn’t fly. Speaking to the BBC, David Hone, one of the researchers, said:
“It would be difficult and probably even dangerous for the small theropod dinosaur to target a pterosaur with a wingspan of 2 meters or more, unless the pterosaur was already ill or injured. So the pterosaur bone we’ve identified in the gut of the velociraptor was most likely scavenged from a carcass rather than the result of a predatory kill.”
So the turkey-sized predator was a dirty scavenger — at least some of the time — a finding that’s reported in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, and Palaeoecology. Another childhood theory shattered. Thanks, scientists. [Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, and Palaeoecology via BBC]