Anyone who jumped out of a theater seat while watching the original Jurassic Park movie knows that velociraptor dinosaurs were formidable predators. It takes a dedicated researcher to want to quantify precisely how formidable they were.
And that’s exactly what Philip L. Manning of the University of Manchester and several of his colleagues did with the help of SIMULIA software a few years ago. The team used scanned data from a fossil ungula claw of a Mongolian velociraptor and analogous data from a modern eagle owl to model the material characteristics and strength of the original dinosaur digit:
The researchers’ conclusions were intriguing … though not very comforting:
“We speculate that a ratchet-like ”locking” ligament might have provided an energy-efficient way for dromaeosaurs to hook their recurved … claws into their prey, using body weight to lock the claws passively and allowing the jaws to dispatch prey.”
The team’s analysis also demonstrated that velociraptors would have been able to support their full weight from their claws. In other words, climbing a tree to get away won’t help you.
But at least, if the global trailer for the 2015 movie can be trusted, in Jurassic World the velociraptors are on our side, thank goodness! Guess we’ll find out June 12th when the movie opens.