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Re: 'Raptors - speed and stopping



At 05:32 PM 1/14/97 -0500, Julia wrote:

>A friend of mine was wondering, for those who consider dromaeosaurs to
>have been quick, speedy predators, what was involved when one of these
>creatures, perhaps traveling at 30 or 40mph, wanted to come to a stop? 
>Unlike say, cheetahs, if a 'raptor, up on two legs, tried to skid to a
>stop, she'd probably end up with her nose in the dirt, right?  Or do we
>think that they traveled fast enough for it to be an issue at all?

Although breaking would have been a problem if you could get dromaeosaurs
(or any other theropod) to go that quickly, getting raptors in particular to
go that quickly in the first place would have been even more of a problem...

Despite the name of one of the genera (Velociraptor), and a certain popular
fiction book and movie concerning reconstructed dinosaurs, there is no
evidence that dromaeosaurids were particularly fast as theropods go.  In
fact, dromaeosaurids have shorter and stockier legs than most other
theropods of the same size!  Their hindlimbs seem more specialized for power
than high speed.

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:th81@umail.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661

"To trace that life in its manifold changes through past ages to the present
is a ... difficult task, but one from which modern science does not shrink.
In this wide field, every earnest effort will meet with some degree of
success; every year will add new and important facts; and every generation
will bring to light some law, in accordance with which ancient life has been
changed into life as we see it around us to-day."
        --O.C. Marsh, Vice Presidential Address, AAAS, August 30, 1877