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What Did the Raptor Dinosaur Habitat Look Like? (Plus 11 More Facts!)

Scientists are finding more raptor fossils as each year passes. What’s exciting about the fossils is that they are also expanding the knowledge about the raptor dinosaur habitat, fossils giving indications to how these dinosaurs lived. We have seen portrayals of Velociraptors in movies such as Jurassic Park, and it was exciting! As scientists have classified over 40 species of raptor dinosaur of the Dromosauridae family, it makes me wonder, what was the environment these dinosaurs lived in, and how well did they adapt to it?

So, what did the raptor dinosaur habitat look like? It was a desert landscape that was hot, dry, and mountainous with rivers during the late-Jurassic period. The environment was harsh and rugged with little vegetation. Later, in the late Cretaceous period, it was considerably cooler with more vegetation over this type of landscape, such as trees and flowering plants covering the landscape. Raptor fossils have been found in North America, Mongolia, China, and Russia. Velociraptors, in particular, roamed Mongolia, China, and Russia.


The raptors that were found predominantly in the late-Cretaceous period were Velociraptors. Other raptors which I will discuss, lived up until the late-Cretaceous period. From the late-Jurassic until the mass extinction in the late-Cretaceous, it spans some 88 million years, so what we know about raptors, its habitat, and behavior is only from the fossils we have found and studies that paleontologists have done with those fossils. Nevertheless, what we currently do know about raptors is fascinating. Now that we have a general idea of what the raptor dinosaur habitat looked like for raptors, there are other things that we can explore about raptors. Let’s take a closer look.

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The raptor dinosaur habitat in the late Cretaceous had more vegetation than in the late Jurassic (which was much hotter and more like a desert) – AdventureDinosaurs

Types of Raptor Dinosaurs

#1. There Were Hundreds of Species of Raptor

As raptors lived over some 88 million years, there is likely to have been hundreds if not thousands of related species. Unfortunately, we have only a part of the whole picture with only about 40 classified into families and clades, and paleontologists continue to find new raptor fossils with each year that passes.

The table below is just a snapshot of some of the raptor species that existed. I list the raptor in the first column, then a short description in the second column and finally, in the third column, I state where the raptor’s fossils are found.

Table 1 - List of 10 Types of Raptors

Raptor Dinosaur NameClassification and DescriptionWhere Fossils Found
BuitreraptorA small raptor dinosaur thought to hunt lizards and small mammals. Lived during the Cretaceous periodSouth America
BambiraptorA small raptor dinosaur, it was a bird-like raptor dinosaur and the fossil skeleton is 95% completeNorth America
TianyuraptorConsidered a transitional species of bird, this raptor dinosaur lived in the early CretaceiousChina
ChangyuraptorThe largest "four-winged" raptor dinosaur. Lived in the early Cretaceous periodChina
VelociraptorIt was a rather small raptor. Lived in the late Cretaceous periodMongolia
DeinonychusKnown as the dinosaur that changed the way scientists thought about dinosaurs- being warm-blooded. Lived in the late CretaceousNorth America
UtahraptorOne of the largest raptor dinosaurs in North America, it lived in the late CretaceousNorth America
AchillobatorOne of the largest known raptors. Lived during the late CretaceousMongolia
HalszkaraptorOnly one species of this raptor dinosaur. Found evidence it lived close to waterMongoila
DakotaraptorSmaller than Utahraptor, this raptor dinosaur lived at the very end of the Mesozoic era.North America
Raptor Dinosaur NameClassification and DescriptionWhere Fossils Found

How Did a Raptor Look Like? How Tall is a Raptor Dinosaur?

#2 What Did Raptors Look Like? Some Features:

● Head – They had crocodile-like snouts (not beaks) with sharp, serrated teeth on the jaws. The jaws could snap shut fast and tear chunks of meat from the prey.

Legs – Raptors were dinosaur therapods, a species that walked on its hind legs, which had three-fingered claws.

Raptors were small predators and fossil evidence indicates that they had feathers and large claws – AdventureDinosaurs

Feathers – There is fossil evidence now that suggests that many of the raptors had feathers covering most, if not all, of its body. While no actual raptor feathers have been found, the quill impressions are left as well as some coloring, which indicates to scientists that these dinosaurs had feathers.

Claws – The claw of the raptor was three-fingered. They were raised and curved, which made them more deadly. These were deadly attacking weapons that could slash and injure prey. They were also useful for protection and defense when fighting.

Tail and Tail Feathers – It relied on its stiff tail for maintaining balance while in motion. As mentioned above, they most likely had feathers, and feathers on the tail could be used to add weight and balance further.

Warm-Blooded or Cold-Blooded? – Scientists believe that velociraptors were warm-blooded like modern-day birds. In that perspective, the raptors were even more deadly hunters that could regulate their body temperatures. Therefore, their warm-blooded nature aided them in pursuing prey actively and mauling them despite the weather.

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YouTube Video – Watch the Jurassic Park Raptor Scene

YouTube Video by “Movieclips” – Great entertainment watching the raptors in the kitchen

#3 Raptor Height

On average a raptor stood approximately 6.5 ft tall (198 cm) to 23 ft long (7 meters). Velociraptors were considerably smaller than depicted in movies. Velociraptors were only a bit taller than a modern-day turkey or a crane, based on the fossils we have found. They were 1.6 ft tall and 6.5 ft long and weighed about 30 lbs (13.2 kg), and their bodies were adapted to fast, light mobility.

Despite being small, it could move fast. Nonetheless, this crane or turkey-sized predator was one of the most dangerous during the Mesozoic period.

Raptors Were Predators and Also Were Hunted

#4 -Raptors Were Hunted By Other Predators and Sometimes Stole or Scavenged Meat From Other Larger Predators

Raptors were carnivorous, meaning they were meat-eating predators that hunted other dinosaurs. These dinosaurs were skillful and efficient predators. They often targeted prey that was smaller than them, but they could target far bigger animals than them.

Raptors were small predators in comparison to others and were hunted by the bigger ones like Spinosaurus – AdventureDinosaurs

It all depended on their age, size, and companionship that they kept. Raptors had sharp teeth and clutching arms. However, their talon-like, curved claws served as dangerous stabbing and slashing weapons that could sink and anchor into flesh and bones.

As good as they were as predators, they also were considerably smaller in size, and this meant that there was a threat of being hunted and killed by other more massive dinosaurs. Another way they might run into trouble with a larger predator is if they scavenged meat from them, and get into a fight over it.

How Fast Could Raptors Run in the Raptor Dinosaur Habitat? How Smart Were Velociraptors?

#6 The Fastest Raptors?

Raptors could achieve speeds of up to 25 miles per hour (40.23 km per hour). Despite being feathered and light-boned, raptors couldn’t outrun some species such as the T-rex, Gallimimus, or their relatives Ornithomimus and Struthiomimus. Of all the raptors, it’s estimated that the Utahraptor was perhaps the fastest raptor.

Velociraptors, in particular, were not the fastest raptor dinosaurs of the Cretaceous period, but they were considerably speedier and more agile than most. Why did they earn the Latin connotation of “speedy thieves” if they weren’t the fastest predators? It has to do with their relatively small sizes and suspected aggressive hunting techniques. In reality, these dinosaurs were considered “speedy thieves” because they had more balance and could jump and dodge over obstacles better than other predators.

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#7 Raptors Had Agility and Ability to Sprint and Jump

For starters, raptors could chase smaller prey with more balance than bigger dinosaurs. With the raptor dinosaur habitat described above, they were well suited for this environment. They could navigate past obstacles while running full speed and even flexibly jump when going for the kill. They were considerably agile and could launch successful attacks, especially with their feathered, mid-stride flights.

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Rapters and Velociraptors looked and acted differently from the movies, according to fossil evidence – AdventureDinosaurs

#8 How Do Velociraptors Compare to Jurassic Park Movies

The Jurassic Park movie went a long way to create a cool, awesome looking raptor dinosaur habitat and island habitat for dinosaurs. However, there were some creative liberties taken with how they portrayed raptors. The raptors that you saw on Jurassic Park were about five times the size of real raptors, and they were actually from a related species, the Deinonychus. Nevertheless, it was fantastic entertainment. Let’s take a look at how some of the entertainment in Jurassic Park’s depictions of raptors compare to what scientists have found.

Table 2 - Comparison Table - Jurassic Park and Raptor Fossil Science

Comparison TopicHow the Raptor Was Portrayed in Jurassic Park MoviesRaptor Fossil Science IndicateCreativity Level (scale of 1-5)
Dinosaur referencedVelociraptorBest fossil match - Deinonychus4
IntelligenceVelociraptors were smart and intelligentThey were smart, but not the smartest4
SizeThe Velociraptor was about 5-7ftFossils indicate 2 ft in height3
Hunting in PacksVelociraptors hunted in packsNo proof they hunted in packs3
Pack intelligence and communicationVelociraptors could communicate with each other and had pack intelligenceNo proof that they communicated, although birds can communicate with each other4
FeathersThey didn’t have feathersThey had feathers4
Time periodJurassic Park implies Jurassic time periodVelociraptors lived the late Cretaceous1
Comparison TopicHow the Raptor Was Portrayed in Jurassic Park MoviesRaptor Fossil Science IndicateCreativity Level (scale of 1-5)

#9 Can Raptors Swim?

Raptors lived near rivers and streams, but probably could not swim or stay in water for any length of time. As mentioned above, the raptor dinosaur habitat was hot and dry during the late-Jurassic and then cooled towards the late-Cretaceous. The hunting raptor dinosaurs lived in desert environments and were adapted to scorching environments.

For these raptors, it seldom ever had to get into the water. Nonetheless, most vertebrates can survive a short dip in water even though they cannot swim. If you drop an elephant into a lake or pond, it could float and move long enough to get out successfully. It is thought that raptors hunted near watering holes, but probably didn’t choose to be in the water.

Raptors were small, feathered and in comparison with other dinosaurs, more intelligent than average – AdventureDinosaurs

How Smart Were Raptors? How Smart Is a Velociraptor?

#10 Raptors Were Not Very Intelligent

Although not very intelligent, they were some of the smartest dinosaurs of all time. Their brain capacity, relative to their sizes, was tremendous, making them considerably smarter than others. How smart they were, in reality, is something we may never be able to determine.

The reputation of raptors out in the public (due in large part because of the movies) suggests that raptors were intelligent and aggressive. They are assumed to have crept up on prey and driving targets out of protective herds.

There is no proof of these assumptions and unfortunately, the fossils do not give enough information on habits and group habits of raptors.

Raptor Enemies and Did Velociraptors Hunt in Packs?

#11 Raptor’s Enemies

Raptors May Have Been Hunted by Bigger Predators – Raptors were rather small and had to run away from bigger dinosaurs that were aggressive. Bigger predators such as Tarbosaurus, a carnivore existing in the late-Cretaceous period, may have preyed on raptors. Additionally, large, armored herbivores like Triceratops or Styracosaurus didn’t like predators and may have actively pursued raptors if they got too close.

Regarding Velociraptors, there is a fantastic fossil found of a Velociraptor and a Protoceratops, that died soon after their battle. The Protoceratops is a small pig-sized herbivore, and it seems to have inflicted severe wounds on the attacking Velociraptor.

Raptors may have hunted in packs near streams and rivers – AdventureDinosaurs

#11 Raptors and Velociraptors May Have Hunted in Packs

They attacked relatively smaller and younger dinosaurs. Some scientists suggest that they did hunt in packs, surrounding the prey and inflicting multiple wounds until the dinosaur dies. With multiple attacks, it could easily overcome even larger dinosaurs.

However, some scientists have lately stated that there is no direct evidence that raptors hunted in packs. Instead, an individual raptor would sneak up on prey, and after injuring them, wait for the attacked victim to bleed and die before going back to eat it. The behavior is similar to Komodo dragons, whose bite is full of bacteria, and then devours the prey after it dies.

Thinking of why a Velociraptor was named in such a way gives some interesting correlations. Velociraptor’s connotation of being “speedy thieves” perhaps comes from the nature of their surprise attacks. Not only are these dinosaurs fast, but they likely used the element of surprise. Still, they couldn’t use it on somewhat larger prey unless they had the advantage of numbers.

Parting Shot

In many ways, raptors were an exciting species. The Jurassic Park movies have given the inspiration to see these dinosaurs in a full environment and habitat, even with behaviors and personality. As we learn more about these dinosaurs from a scientific perspective, solving the puzzles that are before us when we find raptor fossils, it is just as exciting to put the puzzle pieces together.

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