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Questions About Raptors



{I received this e-mail.  If you want to put forth an opinion, please make
sure you send a copy of your reply to me as well.  I get these questions
often enough to warrant an article on Dinosauria On-Line.  My answers
follow, so you know what not to repeat -- Jeff}

My name is Matt Reeves and I am a fourth grader at Thundermountain Elementary
School in Grand Junction, Colorado.  I'm doing some research for school and I
need to know the answer to each of the following questions:

1)  What are all of the scientific names of animals classified as "Raptors"?

2)  How did the Oviraptor live and what did it eat?

3)  Are the dinonichous (sp???) and the red raptor the same animal?

----

>1)  What are all of the scientific names of animals classified as "Raptors"?

   That depends upon your definition of the term "raptors."  This is by no
means consistently applied:  the term 'raptor as used in _Jurassic Park_
referred specifically to _Velociraptor_, not a group of dinosaurs; some use
the word to refer to the Maniraptoriformes, others the Maniraptors, while
one, Dr. Robert Bakker, apparently, uses the term to refer to ALL dinosaurs.

   Others don't use the term at all.  Technically, raptors are a specific
group of birds, the birds of prey.  

   Stick with the Maniraptors and you can't go wrong.  See the DML Cladogram
on Dinosauria On-Line for the animals that belong to the Maniraptor clade
(be sure to read the introduction so you can read the clades properly).
Additionally, if you are going to use the term at all, it should be spelled
'raptor with an apostrophe.

>2)  How did the Oviraptor live and what did it eat?

   Got me there.  I'm not sure there is any consensus on the lifestyle and
diet of the oviraptorids.

>3)  Are the dinonichous (sp???) and the red raptor the same animal?

   No.  _Deinonychus_ is a velociraptorine Maniraptor theropod (and was the
actual animal in _Jurassic Park_ as the real _Velociraptor_ was a wolf sized
predator) whereas "Raptor Red" was a _Utahraptor_, a dromaeosaurine
Maniraptor theropod.  Again, see the DML Cladogram for their relationships.