Deinonychus (Terrible claw)
Ostrom - 1969
Estimated about 11 feet long
D. antirrhopus (type)
Early Cretaceous, 115-108 million years ago
Deinonychus, meaning “terrible claw,” was a medium-sized carnivorous dinosaur that lived during the Early Cretaceous period, around 115 to 108 million years ago, in what is now North America.
This dinosaur was a theropod, a group of bipedal, carnivorous dinosaurs that included famous species like Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor. Deinonychus was about 11 feet long and weighed around 160 to 200 pounds.
One of the most distinctive features of Deinonychus was its sharp, sickle-shaped claw on the second toe of its hind feet. This claw could reach up to 6 inches long and was used to tear into prey. Deinonychus also had a long, curved, flexible neck, sharp teeth, and a relatively large brain, which suggests that it was an intelligent and agile predator.
Fossil evidence suggests that Deinonychus hunted in packs, working together to take down larger prey. This was a behavior previously thought to be unique to Velociraptor, which lived millions of years later and in a different part of the world.
Deinonychus is an important dinosaur in the study of theropod evolution and behavior. It was one of the first dinosaurs to show evidence of pack hunting, which has since been found in other species. It also helped to change the way that paleontologists thought about dinosaurs, from slow, sluggish reptiles to fast, agile predators.
Deinonychus was one of the inspirations for the “raptors” in the popular Jurassic Park movies, which have helped to bring this fascinating dinosaur to the attention of a wider audience.