Last week's series of videos worked very well for Sunday Facts, so I am doing the same thing today. We have two videos from the same sources as last week (I'm A Dinosaur and Story Bots). There is also a video from The Dinosaur Club that is the kind of video I would love to have the time to produce myself for this page or my own use in outreach. One thing that I have noticed watching all of these videos (both weeks) is that you will definitely find different interpretations of Apatosaurus in terms of illustration and placement of some anatomy (nostrils in the first two videos). Some of this is influenced by the skull misidentifications mentioned yesterday. Remember that the skull of Apatosaurus was originally thought to be close (or maybe exactly) like that of Camarasaurus and Brachiosaurus; sauropods that have nostrils high on the dorsal surfaces of their skulls. Unfortunately someone (it is the Story Bots video) consulted the wrong information regarding nostrils. This should not ruin your day though.
The name Apatosaurus ajax is not very debated on its own, but it does have a history that includes the incorporation and the "re-splitting" of the genus Brontosaurus . The genus Apatosaurus also contains the referred species A. louisae, which is a second species within the genus but may or may not contain a third species, A. laticollis; presently A. laticollis is considered a junior synonym of A. louisae as described by Tschopp et al. 2015. A large number of Apatosaurus species have been assigned or reassigned since Marsh's initial 1877 description of the "deceptive lizard". Marsh did not have a complete specimen of course, the skull was unknown and confused with that of Camarasaurus until A. louisae was discovered in 1909 with a complete skull, but his description remains one of the first accurate descriptions of a sauropod dinosaur and therefore the world's official, scientific, introduction to some of the largest dinosaurs that we know today.
Velociraptor has some amazing anatomy. The dinosaur had theropod characteristics as well as a number of avian characteristics. Velociraptor has a number of interesting and unique characteristics that are both avian and dinosaur, or are entirely unique to Velociraptor. That anatomy has garnered a lot of attention from a lot of artists, scientists, and the general public, as we know. There is an entire scene about its feet in the original Jurassic Park movie. Before the feathers became the big news about Velociraptor it was the toe claw that everyone was intrigued by. The hollow bones of Velociraptor have also made the news a number of times because of their similarity to the bones of birds. I have to plug an artist as we are talking about a lot of anatomy here to finish up this post. Rushelle Kucala works mainly in markers, colored pencils, and digital finishing points and she is very obviously a serious student of paleontological anatomy. I would love to post some of her work on Velociraptor here, but instead I encourage everyone to increase traffic on her site, using Velociraptor as the gateway at the link here.
Possibly because of the bird-like characteristics of Velociraptor and also possibly because of its fame from both well-known fossils and the popular sphere, there are a lot of articles written about Velociraptor. These range from descriptions of new material, the skull in particular, and even the furcula (referred to in the title and portions of the article as a "wishbone", most likely to appeal to a wider audience). There are also descriptions of the feathers that we now know are associated with Velociraptor remains; as this dedicated study of the quills of the dinosaur shows. Personally, I am always interested in what kinds of clues we have to indicate behaviors or at least what kinds of inferences people have made about behaviors from their interpretations of characteristics of discovered remains and characters associated with those remains. This is why papers that investigate relationships between Velociraptor and its prey and how Velociraptor may have hunted that prey are intriguing to me. These papers by Hamilton, et al. and Finney, et al. model Velociraptor (and some other animals) hunting strategy using complex mathematical modeling and computer algorithms; they are a little intense, but the models in action and the results are both interesting.
Here is a trio of helpful videos about Velociraptor that you can learn from this week. The videos include one from I'm A Dinosaur, a classic source of kid friendly facts in cartoon form; one from Story Bots, which is where our Triceratops video came last week from; and the final video is from the Today I Found Out YouTube channel.
In an amazing turn of luck, or perhaps a lack of fore-planning, I noticed that what I intended to be a review week of another favorite and beloved dinosaur actually appears to be a first full week of dedicated posts to a Mongolian dinosaur that is well heard of, if not accurately known. Seeing as how I love all of the dromaeosaurs and the wonderful array of illustrative interpretations and the varied hypotheses from the time of discovery until now surrounding the animal known as Velociraptor mongoliensis, it is hard to believe that we have yet to cover the animal. I searched in all possible ways through all the entries and we mention Velociraptor plenty of times, but we have yet to dedicate a whole week to this dinosaur. I even searched the Facebook page. I find this oversight amazing, which is the only reason I continue to go on about it.
At any rate, Velociraptor is a misunderstood dinosaur by many and it certainly deserves its time in the highlights of this site. Velociraptor mongoliensis means "Swift thief from Mongolia" and, in a happy coincidence of taxonomy contains the word raptor, which additionally implies a bird of prey. Despite common misconceptions, this violent, terribly-clawed predatory machine that inspires nightmares was huge... only in the eyes of mouse sized mammals and tiny insects. Standing at approximately the same size as a modern Wild Turkey, Velociraptor was, without a doubt, fierce and feared in the eyes of its prey, but was likely a nuisance much like a small dog to the larger animals of its time (think about how odd it would be to see a Tarbosaurus trip over a Velociraptor suddenly running out of the bushes in front of it).
Wyoming Dinosaur Center display of Velociraptor mongoliensisPhoto by Ben Townsend