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Re: Velociraptor



Jack wrote:
> 
> I have wanted to see this topic discussed for some time.  What you may
> have been exposed to may have actually been a reference to _Deinonychus
> antirrhopus_.  The size seems right (I don't know what happened to teh
> weight).  

Alas, no.  The size Mark quoted was indeed correct for _Velociraptor_. 
_Deinonychus_ is at least twice as large -- almost four meters nose to
tail, and 150cms or more tall.  

> In _Predatory Dinosaurs of the World_, Greg Paul put forth an
> idea which has largely been scoffed at, but I believe has a lot of merit.
> He synonymized _Deinonychus_ and _Velociraptor_.  I feel that it is
> possible that this is why the _Velociraptors_ of JP were so large (I think
> Michale Crichton even mentions Greg Paul as one of his influences at the
> end of the book).  I don't know why this idea has received so little
> attention.  It seems very possible that _Deinonychus_ could be considered
> a subgenus of _Velociraptor_.  

Maybe, maybe not.  It's possible the two are the same genus, but OTOH it
seems that modern animals that differ that much are routinely placed in
separate genera.  There doesn't seem to be much less difference between
_Velociraptor_ and _Deinonychus_ than there is between a red fox and a
gray wolf, and those are usually placed in separate genera.  In a recent
book about hominids, Ian Tattersall offered a half-jesting but IMHO very
valid way for determining the level of difference between two animals. 
In his words, "if you can tell two skulls apart at fifty paces, you have
two genera, while if you have to scrutinize them up close to tell the
difference, all you have is two species."  (Tattersall, THE FOSSIL
TRAIL, p. 192)  He's talking about mammals and specifically hominids,
not dinosaurs, but I think the principle is still valid.  If you can
tell the skulls apart at a glance, you probably have two different
genera.  The flat head of _Velociraptor_ vs. the arched head of
_Deinonychus_ seems to say "two genera" to me.

-- JSW