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Facts about Deinonychus Dinosaur

Prashant Magar
The discovery of fossils of Deinonychus, one of the deadliest and most intelligent dinosaurs, was a valuable addition to our knowledge about these prehistoric reptiles. Read on to know more.
Dinosaurs belonging to genus Deinonychus inhabited the Earth about 115 million years ago. The genus had some of the deadliest species of the Cretaceous period, which began 125 million years ago, to its credit. 
The detailed classification of this genus is given here.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Superorder: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Theropoda
Infraorder: Deinonychosauria
Family: Dromaeosauridae
Subfamily: Velociraptorinae
Genus: Deinonychus
Species: Deinonychus antirrhopus (The lone described species)

Characteristics of Deinonychus

The name Deinonychus literally translates to 'terrible claw'. It was derived from the unusually long talon on their hind foot. In fact, the sickle-shaped claw was a unique feature of these dinosaurs, which they used efficiently to tear open their prey.
The Dromaeosaur family, to which they belonged, had a characteristic light skull and elongated arms with sharp claws. They had an amazing sense of sight. These dinosaurs were 5-feet tall, 9-feet long, and weighed around 80 kg.
Their brain (at 410 mm) was quite big for a species of that height and width. Though smaller than several other dinosaurs, they were brutal carnivores equipped with 60 dagger-like teeth. Their curved, flexible neck and big head gave them a huge advantage when it came to hunting.
Fossils of this dinosaur were recovered from Montana, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Arkansas, and Maryland in the United States. The remains suggest that they lived and hunted in groups. As a group, these dinosaurs were capable of bringing down a dinosaur much bigger than them.
Dinosaurs belonging to genus Tenontosaurus, a genus of plant-eating dinosaurs, were likely their preferred victims, as their skeletal remains were mostly accompanied with Deinonychus' claws or teeth.
Their pelvic bones were similar to that of lizards in shape. Though their bipedal nature and bird-like metabolism hint at bird ancestry, they are not the direct ancestors of birds. They were closely related to dinosaurs belonging to genus Velociraptor though.
In fact, it is widely believed that just like the Velociraptor genus, even they were covered by feathers. However, their inclusion as warm-blooded animals is still a matter of contention amongst scientists.
Their strength and agility, coordination of the body parts, and the ability to leap gave them an edge when it came to hunting. The bony parts along the sides of its tail, called rods, made the back portion of their tail stiff, but still provided a little flexibility. The part of the tail closer to the main body was devoid of these rods to allow movement.
This characteristic feature facilitated amazing balance while running. Its moves can be compared to that of a flightless bird; running, swerving, and balancing and that too, at astonishing speed. When they ran, they lifted their sickle-shaped claw up and ran on the remaining toes. All these features made it one of the most terrific predators of all time.
Interestingly, in the movie 'Jurassic Park', Deinonychus were modeled after Dinonychids―a larger species of the 'raptor'.