Though famous as a man-sized, walking medieval torture device, Velociraptor was actually much smaller than those featured in Jurassic Park; the ones seen in the film are closer in size to Deinonychus, a related species. Deinonychus (“terrible claw”) was discovered by paleontology revolutionary John Ostrom in 1964, and described by him in 1969; Gregory S. Paul also described it in 1988. In contrast, the Velociraptors of Jurassic Park measure in at approximately 1.8 m (6 ft) in height, 4 m (13 ft) in length, weigh between 150 and 350 pounds, and hold a homeothermic body temperature of 91 degrees Fahrenheit. They lived during the early Cretaceous, about 118 to 110 million years ago.
Found on both Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna, the Velociraptor–or “raptor,” as they are commonly called–are Jurassic Park’s most intellectually advanced dinosaurs, hunting in packs like wolves and communicating with different vocalizations for efficient hunting tactics, though are speculated by most to have less complex thought capabilities; an example of this is when the raptors seem to be driven more by the kill than the hunt, losing all sense and attacking even in hopeless situations, as seen with the males on Isla Sorna in 1997. The females, in contrast, seem to adapt more easily and are not as impulsive to the hunting situations in which they find themselves, such as when the pack on Isla Nublar set a trap for Robert Muldoon during the Isla Nublar Incident in 1993.
There is also a second breed of Velociraptor which is found only on Isla Sorna. Known as Velociraptor “antirrhopus sornaensis,” they appear to be more vocal than V. “a. nublarensis;” while both make the same noises as they are more or less the same animal, V. a. sornaensis is more vocal while hunting. They use these communicative abilities to aid in their hunting capabilities, not only to stalk prey but also to, terrifyingly, use the human condition against their quarry. Males of V. a. sornaensis are shown to have slightly more impulsive behavior on only one occasion, when a male specimen broke rank–but was quickly brought back into order–during the ambush on Dr. Grant and the Kirby’s right before they were rescued by the US military in 2001.
The scientific classification, Velociraptor “antirrhopus,” is a derivation of Deinonychus; the raptors bred by InGen were called Velociraptor due to old studies, which came out around the time of cloning thanks to Gregory S. Paul. The studies grouped most dromaeosaurids into the genus Velociraptor, including Deinonychus. Science eventually reevaluated this classification and reassigned the species. However, in the Jurassic Park universe, the name stuck; this is really only an assumption, as Dr. Alan Grant was uncovering a “Velociraptor” in Montana, where the real Velociraptor did not exist but Deinonychus did. It is possible that Grant simply liked the name Velociraptor more than Deinonychus, and thus the classification was kept alive. A comparative size analysis shows us that Jurassic Park‘s raptors are closer in size to Deinonychus than they are to Utahraptor. The reality is that this classification came into being in Gregory Paul’s 1988 book, “Predatory Dinosaurs of The World;” its influence can be clearly felt within the Jurassic Park franchise, as to this day numerous publication make reference to the comparison of Deinonychus.
Thus, the classification of names we will refer to as for the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park will be known as Velociraptor “antirrhopus nublarensis” sensu Paul while the raptors seen in Jurassic Park /// will be referred to as Velociraptor “antirrhopus sornaensis” sensu Paul. The sensu Paul portion is, in all honesty, flexible, but is included to honor Gregory Paul and his work. Michael Crichton himself was also a fan of Paul’s work and incorporated it into not only the novel, but into the films as well. The nublarensis/sornaensis comes from the fact that there are two distinct, morphologically different animals; their differences range from their pupils down to skeletal differences in their skulls, not to mention their stature and differing patterns of coloration. We simply do not know if these species would be able to interbreed and produce hybrid offspring, not unlike the hybrid offspring of lions and tigers (“ligers” and “tiglons”) of the real world, as there is presently nothing canonical to support it. We know that they are clearly different from one another due to a few reasons: first and foremost, the aforementioned versions numbers argument for that being present in the film canon and the physical appearance differences. It has also been suggested that there are behavioral differences between the two species, but this is speculative; based on evidence from the film, we cannot say with certainty that there is a major and drastic difference between the two. We can only outline the differences in this article; what we see is what we get, and what we see in the portrayal looks different from one another one another at times, but the same at once when we get down to the details.
For all intents and purposes, the raptor seen in Dr. Grant’s dream in Jurassic Park /// was intentionally color-dulled for the dream sequence, as pointed out in the film commentary in order to make it similar in appearance to the raptors that Dr. Grant saw on Isla Nublar. Could this perhaps be the male Velociraptor in his eyes? Maybe; Dr. Grant never saw the male raptors from The Lost World, so this could perhaps be the male raptor that he never saw, which may have existed on Isla Nublar due to the gender-changing abilities in Jurassic Park.
It is speculated that the true Velociraptor, or Deinonychus in this case, may in fact have been completely feathered when it was first cloned by InGen, and it was genetically modified to match the public conception of dinosaurs at the time. Though highly speculative, the inference is supported due to the fact that InGen ultimately chose V. a. nublarensis for the park setting rather than V. a. sornaensis. However, as this is not a confirmation. We must also answer this question: “Which came first: V. a. sornaensis, or V. a. nublarensis?” Though we have no way of knowing for sure, it is presumed that V. a. sornaensis came first. We only say this because it is a logical assessment with scientific backing for feathered maniraptorans such as V. mongoliensis possessing quill knobs on their forearms due to recent paleontological evidence.
The differences between the two species are not limited to their coloration and physical characteristics; it is possible that their levels of intelligence and their social structure are also different. However, this is a matter of debate that, unfortunately, requires a lot of speculation. While V. a. sornaensis work together in highly communicable packs with no intraspecific competition in their social structure, V. a. nublarensis engage in in-fighting, and higher-ranking members of the pack seem to regularly assert their dominance, as seen in both 1993 (one raptor nipping at another as they entered the kitchen) and in 1997 (when two raptors got into a scrap while trying to make a meal of Dr. Sarah Harding. It is likely that V. a. nublarensis still communicated with each other, though it was probably through more nonvocal means such as body language or similar.
Inferences point out that the social structure of V. a. sornaensis, from what is seen in the films, was largely obeyed by all raptors within the pack shown. However, when Dr. Alan Grant used a replica of a Velociraptor‘s resonating chamber, a single raptor broke rank, possibly confused by the sounds being made by Dr. Grant, but was reminded of its place immediately by the female raptor with the group. More importantly, the raptor was corrected without the use of violence, almost surely testament to the significance of pack hierarchy among this breed of raptor. Unlike with the V. a. nublarensis, no in-fighting whatsoever has ever been observed among the V. a. sornaensis. Though it is all but definitive that V. a. sornaensis were more vocal with each other, using a “language” to coordinate their attacks to a greater degree than the V. a. nublarensis, we cannot rule out that V. a. nublarensis had similar communicative abilities as little of them is seen.
Based on evidence in the film, speculation has arisen that V. a. sornaensis may understand humans and their environments, at least to a greater degree than V. a. nublarensis. These understandings stem from the fact that a lone male was sent to hunt Dr. Alan Grant and company in 2001, and used a former laboratory environment to its advantage, hiding behind a glass tank and remaining perfectly still in order to scare Amanda Kirby. This in and of itself implies that V. a. sornaensis has a greater understanding of human emotions and are adapted to respond to them. They also used their knowledge of humans to try to lure Amanda Kirby into a trap by leaving Udesky alive as bait, that is, until he had outlived his usefulness.
Though less common, we also see this with V. a. nublarensis; one of the Raptors in 1993 hid herself from view until Dr. Ellie Sattler had turned her back to it, distracted by her success at restoring power to the park. However, after this, V. a. nublarensis is only observed opening doors, smashing and digging through obstacles, and utilizing tall grass as cover. Otherwise, all that we see of V. a. nublarensis hunting patterns is when they hunted Robert Muldoon in the jungles of Isla Nublar; Alan, Ellie, Tim, and Lex in the Visitor Center at Jurassic Park; and even when hunting Ian, Sarah, Kelly, and the InGen Hunters on Isla Sorna. Though this does lend credibility to their complex hunting patterns, at least compared to other carnivorous dinosaurs in the films, they are not nearly as complex as the hunting behaviors displayed by V. a. sornaensis.
The statements of evolution made by the cast and crew of Jurassic Park /// could, in fact, apply under certain circumstances. However, by its very definition, evolution takes millions of years to happen, not the four that separated The Lost World from Jurassic Park ///; evolution was instead used as a marketing device, to portray the adventure evolving on down to the technology to make the animatronics of the films evolving. Another issue present in the fandom is that it is believed by some that these animals were replacements for the older “Nublarensis” design. There is nothing to suggest that this has any real connection to the film aside from the obscure “evolution” statement, which is clearly an advertising point for the film.
On the subject of “the Big One” from Jurassic Park, there are four possible explanations as to her behavior and the differences that she displays from other specimens of V. a. nublarensis, though all of them are highly speculative: genetic mishap; too many growth enhancers (though suggested in the film, there is no actual evidence of growth enhancements in the film); that the animal developed a trait to “pass-on” (natural selection); or that she was just naturally more intelligent and aggressive than other specimens of V. a. nublarensis. It is also likely, based on Muldoon’s comments, that he may have been referring to both breeds of raptor, assuming that he knew about Isla Sorna.
Some might get the impression that V. a. nublarensis is being sold short; in fact, it is quite the opposite. The facts are that both are very intelligent and extremely dangerous; the difference is like that between a can of Coke and Diet Coke, or the difference between chimpanzees and humans.
|Velociraptor “antirrhopus nublarensis” sensu Paul|
|Velociraptor “antirrhopus sornaensis” sensu Paul|
|Attack Reasoning & Intelligence||V. a. nublarensis||We know that V. a. nublarensis likely employed eye contact to eliminate Muldoon, and are known to be able to open doors in order to reach their intended target. Another ability seen was how they use their natural surrounds, such as the long grass, to their advantage while hunting. An individual in the first film hid from view in order to catch Dr. Ellie Sattler off-guard.|
|V. a. sornaensis||V. a. sornaensis is capable of playing on complex human emotion and are excellent trackers. High logical ability here is present when using Udesky as bait and killing him after Billy Brennan and the Kirby’s had discovered their trap.|
|Pack Functionality||V. a. nublarensis||Evidence of brutality in V. a. nublarensis can be seen on Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna, with specimens on both islands attacking each other to assert dominance or improve their place in the pecking order.|
|V. a. sornaensis||At present, there are no examples of interspecies brutality among V. a. sornaensis, aside from the female nonviolently correcting an out-of-order male during the ambush.|
|Communication||V. a. nublarensis||Some communication among V. a. nublarensis relies upon vocalizations, though it is rather simplified. Nonvocal communication was also seen used between two Raptors while they were stalking Tim and Lex Murphy in the Visitor Center kitchen on Isla Nublar. A specimen on Isla Nublar is seen calling for her hunting partner, but no “verbal” communication was involved while stalking Muldoon; this communication was probably relegated to body language. On Isla Sorna, the raptors in the long grass did not use vocalizations while hunting Ian, Sarah, and Kelly.|
|V. a. sornaensis||V. a. sornaensis seems to rely more on vocalization, almost to the point of having a language, which may indicate some degree of sentience; the V. a. sornaensis are even seen “talking” to each other in Jurassic Park ///.|