Dromaeosauridae /ˌdrɒmiəˈsɔːrɪdiː/ is a family of feathered theropod dinosaurs. They were generally small to medium-sized feathered carnivores that flourished in the Cretaceous Period. The name Dromaeosauridae means 'running lizards', from Greek δρομεῦς (dromeus) meaning 'runner' and σαῦρος (sauros) meaning 'lizard'. In informal usage they are often called raptors (after Velociraptor), a term popularized by the film Jurassic Park; a few types include the term "raptor" directly in their name and have come to emphasize their bird-like appearance and speculated bird-like behavior.
The dromaeosaurid body plan includes a relatively large skull, serrated teeth, narrow snout (an exception being Utahraptor), and forward-facing eyes which indicate some degree of binocular vision. Dromaeosaurids, like most other theropods, had a moderately long S-curved neck, and their trunk was relatively short and deep. Like other maniraptorans, they had long arms that could be folded against the body in some species, and relatively large hands with three long fingers (the middle finger being the longest and the first finger being the shortest) ending in large claws. The dromaeosaurid hip structure featured a characteristically large pubic boot projecting beneath the base of the tail. Dromaeosaurid feet bore a large, recurved claw on the second toe. Their tails were slender, with long, low, vertebrae lacking transverse process and neural spines after the 14th caudal vertebra.
Dromaeosaurids were small to medium-sized dinosaurs, ranging from about 0.7 metres (2.3 ft) in length (in the case of Mahakala) to approaching or over 6 m (20 ft) (in Utahraptor, Dakotaraptor and Achillobator). Some may have grown larger; undescribed specimens of Utahraptor in Brigham Young University collections belonged to individuals that may have reached up to 11 m (36 ft) long, though these await more detailed study. Large size appears to have evolved at least twice among dromaeosaurids; once among the dromaeosaurines Utahraptor and Achillobator, and again among the unenlagiines (Austroraptor, which measured 5 m [16 ft] long).
Dromaeosauridae in Chicxulub Asteroid Missed
Small and medium sized raptors were a danger in the West although an eight-shooter or blunderbuss would faze a small raptor and probably a middle sized one too. They wouldn't do a thing against a Ranno.
- Straight Outta Dodge City, pg. 72.
- Analog, May/June 2019, Vol. CXXXIX, nos. 5 & 6, pgs. 15-16.