Literally translated as the “Terrible Claw”, the Deinonychus was fast, fierce, and unforgiving. Often preferring to hunt in solitude, the carnivorous theropod had a flexible tail and sharp claws. Lived in what is modern day North America during the Lower Cretaceous period.

Key Facts

Deinonychus pronunciationDie-Non-I-Kuss
What does Deinonychus mean?Terrible claw
Dinosaur typeTheropod
On the menucarnivore
Length3.0 meters (10 feet)
Height1.3 meters (4 feet 3 inches)
Weight75 kilograms (about 165.350 lbs)
Life expectancy13-14 years
Legs used to get aroundBipedal
Estimated top speed10.1 km/h ( 6.27 mph)
When they livedLower Cretaceous era 120-110 million years ago
Where they have been found?USA

When & Where

In 1931 paleontologist Barnum Brown, along with his team, was searching for Tenontosaurus remains in southern Montana. He noted the discovery of a small dinosaur and gave it the name Daptosaurus agilis. Various other expeditions over the decades unearthed similar fragments, however, experts were unable to determine which animals they belonged to. Later analysis of available material led to the conclusion that these remains belonged to the same dinosaur, including Brown’s Daptosaurus.

Size & Weight

Although few adult remains were excavated, the Deinonychus is thought to have been about 3 meters in length with a weight between 70 and 100 kilograms. The 1960 analysis of the Deinonychus led to a small-sized revolution within the scientific community about dinosaurs, calling into question their lack of agility. Paleontologist John Ostrom noted the sleek, relatively small body and raptorial claws on its feet, suggesting an active, deft dinosaur as opposed to a cold-blooded, heavy one.

Mobility & Diet

The Deinonychus was reasonably quick, reaching a speed of up to 10 km/h. Their flexible tail suited their agile predatory nature. Traveling both in packs and in solitude, they often scavenged, leading to conflict between individuals of the same species. There’s evidence suggesting that the Deinonychus resorted to cannibalism in these cases. They are thought to have fed on, perhaps even hunted, adult Tenontosaurus’.

Interesting Points

  • The Deinonychus lived more than 100 million years ago in the present-day United States.
  • The carnivorous dinosaur’s dietary preferences changed depending on the age group it belonged to.
  • The distinguishing feature of the Deinonychus was the abnormally large talon on the second toe of each hind foot, which gave the dinosaur its memorable name.