Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” films turned raptors into legitimate Hollywood superstars during the early ’90s. National Velociraptor Awareness Day on April 18 gives us a reason to once again ponder this creature that roamed the Earth 70 million years ago.
Here’s one fact we often overlook: raptors, unlike those in the films, did not stand over 7 feet tall. They were roughly 6 1/2 feet long and measured less than 2 feet high at the hip. (But they did have some frightening hips.) They also had feathers and wings. In reality — they sort of resembled turkey dinosaurs.
Still, the filmmakers were onto something.
That’s because production on “Jurassic Park” began before the 1991 discovery of the so-called Utahraptor skeleton — measuring 5 1/2 feet tall — the largest at that time. Said one film designer: “We designed it, we built it, and then they discovered it. That still boggles my mind.”
National Velociraptor Awareness Day timeline
Republican Senator Mike Lee, on the Senate floor, displayed a picture of President Reagan firing a machine gun while riding on the back of a velociraptor to mock the Green New Deal.
Raptors invade Toronto
The NBA's expansion Toronto Raptors began play with a 94-79 win over New Jersey. The team, along with the (former) Vancouver Grizzlies, marked the league's first foray into Canada since 1947. The monstrous success of 1993's "Jurassic Park" inspired the team name.
Michael Crichton wrote "Jurassic Park"
Velociraptors got the star treatment thanks to their portrayal in the novel — later adapted into the "Jurassic Park" movie franchise.
First velociraptor fossil found
Peter Kaisen recovered the first velociraptor fossil: a crushed but complete skull, along with one of the second-toe claws.
- 70,000,000 B.C.
This is around the time that velociraptors inhabited the earth.
National Velociraptor Awareness Day Activities
Host a movie marathon
What better way to celebrate these ancient, killer birds than by spending a night watching all four "Jurassic Park" films. Make sure to invite someone who's never experienced the "lost world."
Meet the Flintstones
Fred and Wilma Flintstone, model citizens of Bedrock, owned a pet raptor named, what else, Dino. Introduce your kids to scary creatures through the wonder of 1960s-era animation during National Velociraptor Awareness Day.
Head to a museum
Try the Natural History Museum in New York City or the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. Plan a trip to check out real fossils and the land of dinosaurs that still exist.
Why We Love National Velociraptor Awareness Day
We're still finding them
Velociraptor fossils have surfaced in Mongolia and China, but the search continues throughout the world.
Raptors play a big role in all of the "Jurassic Park" movies. They're portrayed as cunningly smart villains.
They're terrifying — as you can well imagine
These carnivores had long, retractable claws as well as 26–28 teeth for killing and consuming prey.