As "Jurassic World" has just come out (it's great) I think I need to touch in one of my "Jurassic Park" related bugbears. The nature of the film's Velociraptors.
Velociraptors were in fact turkey sized (bird not country) predators. They would actually have been pretty mean and I wouldn't like to fight off one of those toothy little bastards. Most nerds who have seen "Jurassic Park" are aware of this. However many still don't know what the film Velociraptors are based on and why they are still called Velociraptors.
Some people just assume Crichton or Spielberg just scaled the Velociraptors up to be scarier. This is wrong. The proportions, skull and body shape don't match. However the favourite theory is that the Velociraptors portrayed are actually Utahraptors. This is horribly fucking wrong! Stop repeating that shit and spreading it around the internet.
The Utahraptor was not discovered until after the "Jurassic Park" movie was released. Therefore it could not be the basis for film's dinosaurs. The film is based on an even earlier book which also uses Velociraptor so that makes it even more impossible.
Seriously stop telling people they are Utahraptors or I will find you and cut you. Right after I finish with the people who use the word Brontosaurus. No, I don't care what some scientists are now saying about that1, I've started so I'll finish.
So what are the film franchise's Velociraptors based on? They are based on my favourite dinosaur, Deinonychus. Yes, I'm a grown-ass man with a favourite dinosaur. Deal with it. It's also probably why this bugs me so much. Deinonychus was a member of the Dromaeosauridae family that also includes Velociraptor and Utahraptor. It was sort of midway between the other two in size.
Utahraptor is a stupid name for a dinosaur. Deinonychus means "Terrible Claw". Velociraptor sounds cool but actually means "Swift Seizer" which isn't brilliant. It is however better than "Utah's predator" which sounds like a Mormon child-molester.
How do I know that Deinonychus is the basis for the film Velociraptors? Because John Ostrom, discoverer of the Deinonychus and one of the Paleontologists that Micheal Crichton used for his research, said so2.
"Crichton, in an apologetic way, explained that in the novel he decided to use the name Velociraptor, that I had said was the closest relative to the animal that I had found," Ostrom told The Times. "He said, ‘It’s more dramatic.’ And I said I recognize that most people don’t understand Greek."
Despite the name change, Ostrom wrote that Crichton had confirmed to him that the fictional Velociraptor was modeled after Deinonychus in "almost every detail."
And if that wasn't enough Spielberg's researchers likely did the same.
Brinkman says that Steven Spielberg’s production company contacted Ostrom and requested copies of all of his technical papers on Deinonychus.
So there you have it. They are based on the dinosaur Deinonychus and are called Velociraptor because it sounds cooler. There, simple. Now knock it off with the Utahraptor shit.