43. Velociraptor Unveiled, 1924


Although motherly Protoceratops appealed to the public imagination, there were other dinosaurs found in Mongolia that had equal scientific importance. Henry F. Osborn described three new genera in this short article. One of these was Oviraptor. The full name given it by Osborn, Oviraptor philoceratops, "the egg stealer with a fondness for ceratopsian eggs", indicates that Oviraptor was branded as a thief right from the start. Osborn did admit that the name might be entirely misleading; it was given only because the type skull was found lying directly above a clutch of dinosaur eggs, which "immediately put the animal under suspicion of having been overtaken by a sandstorm in the very act of robbing the dinosaur egg nest." The possibility that Oviraptor might have laid the eggs apparently was not seriously entertained at the time.

Another dinosaur first described in this article was Velociraptor. The specimen consisted only of a skull with jaws, and some phalanges with a claw, but that was enough to indicate that Velociraptor was a small, light, and probably very swift predator. The skull, interestingly, was found lying right next to a Protoceratops skull, suggesting the identity of at least one of its prey.

The illustration shows the skull at 1/2 natural size, making the head only some 18 cm. or 7 inches long. Velociraptor was not really capable of inflicting the damage required of its greatly-enlarged namesake in the movie Jurassic Park.


Osborn, Henry Fairfield. "Three new Theropoda, Protoceratops zone, central Mongolia," in: American Museum Novitates, no. 144 (1924), pp. 1-12. This work was on display in the original exhibition as item 43.

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