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Science

First Fossil Evidence That Velociraptors Hunted in Packs 169

Posted by Zonk
from the clever-girl dept.
Ponca City, We Love You writes "The New Scientist reports that palaeontologists have excavated a fossil trackway in Shandong Province in China 100 to 120 million years old that contains footprints left by six Dromeosaurs, the more formal name for raptors, showing evidence of group behavior. Up until now, the popular stereotype from Jurassic Park of raptors hunting in packs has had no fossil evidence to back it up. The paths of the six 90 kilo raptors do not overlap where the animals walked alongside a river or stream. '"The odds of these tracks being made by different individuals that just happen to be moving in the same direction, without their tracks stepping on one another, are small," said Jerry D. Harris, director of paleontology at Dixie State College. "Groups that do that usually have relatively sophisticated behavior, and they're relatively intelligent," Harris added. "By moving together in groups, it's entirely possible that they hunted in groups."'"
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First Fossil Evidence That Velociraptors Hunted in Packs

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  • by Kohath (38547) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @12:34PM (#21173429)
    Who needs fossil evidence? Just watch the movie. See? Packs.
    • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @12:35PM (#21173457)

      Who needs fossil evidence? Just watch the movie. See? Packs.
      And we know those bastards are light, too! Sure, they may look like they weigh a couple hundred pounds, but a 90 pound girl can knock one across the room with the right acrobatic attack!
      • by LiquidAvatar (772805) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @01:33PM (#21174365) Journal
        I bet that you're one of those people who insists on acknowledging Highlander 2...
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by tcc3 (958644)
          They made a Highlander II? =)
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Darby (84953)

          I bet that you're one of those people who insists on acknowledging Highlander 2...


          Damn, Dude. That was harsh ;-)

        • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @05:48PM (#21177685)

          I bet that you're one of those people who insists on acknowledging Highlander 2...
          Highlander? Sequels? I don't know what you're talking about. There can be only one.
      • And we know those bastards are light, too! Sure, they may look like they weigh a couple hundred pounds, but a 90 pound girl can knock one across the room with the right acrobatic attack!


        You're missing the fact that the girl, like most of the characters in the movie, is actually a superhero.
        • You're missing the fact that the girl, like most of the characters in the movie, is actually a superhero.
          What's Jeff Goldblum's power, the ability to mutter to himself in a rapid stream-of-consciousness patter without taking a breath?
    • XKCD (Score:2, Funny)

      by dtmfdan (951283)
      let the XKCD references begin
  • Run, Randall, Run! (Score:3, Informative)

    by ClayJar (126217) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @12:35PM (#21173451) Homepage
    (I hope this doesn't get in the way of my thrice-weekly xkcd [xkcd.com] entertainment.)
  • Duh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by nih (411096) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @12:38PM (#21173485)
    seriously, i wish God would stop planting 'evidence' of dinosaurs, this is getting rather tiresome.
    • Re:Duh? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Shaitan Apistos (1104613) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @01:04PM (#21173921)

      seriously, i wish God would stop planting 'evidence' of dinosaurs, this is getting rather tiresome.
      Sigh. Why does everyone think Christians are stupid? We KNOW there were dinosaurs. Nothing in the bible says there weren't. They lived alongside man thousands of years ago and died out because they couldn't fit on the ark. Except the little ones which I can only assume were sinners.

      Duh.
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @01:46PM (#21174629) Journal
      Well, it's not planted as such. At some point the great game designer in the sky thought it would be fun to have some big stuff running around the high level areas. And some 90 kilo birds that He planned to use later as the Blood Elves' mount.

      But you know how that ends up working. You tweak a little here, a little there, and next thing you know they're whining that you've nerfed them to death and start cancelling their subscriptions in droves.

      So, you know, cut Him some slack. What do you expect Him to do? Hide that they ever existed? Like that ever works. Try deleting just a post or two on a board and you end up with a whole rebellion on your hand. Try denying that the game ever had dinosaurs? Ooer... noone does... ermm...

      Well, OK, so Sony's propaganda machine does try to present the new animal breeding on SWG like some revolutionary new feature, and not, say, like they had animal handlers in the first place and they removed them.

      But I figure God is better than Sony, you know? (Ok, ok, so that's not hard to achieve;) He's not affraid to admit that some things weren't that well balanced in the first place and had to be changed.
      • Come on now, dinosaur tracks? Tracks in a riverbed where the river is powerful enough to wash their bones downstream. Oceans and seas came and went, mountain ranges were raised up and eroded to nothing since the time of the dinosaur, yet their tracks still exist? Of course they're a plant.
    • According to the Creation Museum [msn.com] there should be some caveman tracks nearby too.
    • I thought it was the devil that was planting them to throw us off the scent or lead us away from the "true" knowledge or something like that.
  • Any evidence of hunting while in packs? They could had walked to their offices to work in packs, just like we do.
  • Blasphemy!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Ronin X (121414) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @12:40PM (#21173531)
    They were obediently following Adam and Eve around, and it was only 6000 years ago.  Blasphemers!
  • by trybywrench (584843) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @12:40PM (#21173533)
    so velociraptors may have been pack hunters? thanks for the nightmares.
  • Artisan Tracker (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ChromaticDragon (1034458) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @12:43PM (#21173573)
    Nah... The movie that comes to my mind is completely different.

    I am getting a picture of very clean cut, tall, dainty and somewhat immortal lithe man (with bow strapped across back, of course) darting back and forth across the plain. He sniffs here, looks there, describing what the signs indicate happened (all while you're seeing flashbacks to millions of years ago where the pack of raptors were hauling tail across the terrain with two little midget dinos tied to a couple raptors' backs because some dark T-Rex said "don't eat them".

    That's some tracker...
  • Great News (Score:5, Funny)

    by GammaKitsune (826576) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @12:44PM (#21173599)
    Now all we need to find is some evidence of raptors being able to open up doors, and we'll have proof that Hollywood knows more about Dinosaurs than Science.
    • by Shakrai (717556) *

      Now all we need to find is some evidence of raptors being able to open up doors, and we'll have proof that Hollywood knows more about Dinosaurs than Science.

      Eh, Hollywood sucks, but who is to say that they WOULDN'T have been able to figure out how to open a door, given the right motivation? My dog can open doors. Ever watch squirrels figure out "squirrel-proof" bird feeders? Ever seen a cat that was toilet trained?

      Granted, the mammalian brain has tens of millions of years of evolution over the dinos, but who is to say what they would have been capable of? Imagine if we actually were able to somehow obtain an intact DNA strand, clone them and observe the

      • Can you honestly say that you WOULDN'T go to a Jurassic Park if someone managed to pull it off?

        Every time the scene where they first see the dinos roaming about is shown, all I think is, "I'd give my entire life savings to visit such a place." I almost cry thinking about how cool it would be to walk with dinosaurs (present day birds, alligators, komodo dragons and other such creatures excluded).

        So yes, in my case I would do everything both within and outside my power to see such a place. Not a zo

        • You did finish the rest of the movie, right? I have to admit the park was pretty cool up until the dinosaurs started eating everyone.
          • by Shakrai (717556) *
            That part of the movie was a crock of shit though. The book was at least somewhat more realistic on this. When the fences went down, the game warden guy wasn't even worried about it at first, because most of the animals had already been shocked a few times and it only takes a handful of shock events to condition an animal to avoid the fences, whether or not they are energized.

            But let's look at the modern world. You know you can take a safari and get to within meters of apex predators without being attack
            • by mcmonkey (96054)

              You know that a lot of people go swimming in shark-infested waters all the time and you can count the number of annual shark attacks with your fingers.

              Yes, but that's due to my fingers still being on the end of my intact hands and arms because I don't go swimming in shark-infested waters.

            • For an animal to attack you it either has to perceive you as pray or feel threatened by you. Most animals are justifiably leery of human beings and don't consider them as suitable pray under normal circumstances.

              That's because, over the time that humans have been on the Earth, the animals that haven't been leery of humans have been hunted down by humans, exerting considerable selective pressure.

              Dinosaurs that magically (i.e., through sufficiently-advanced technology) reappeared would not, presumably, have

              • by Shakrai (717556) *

                would probably eat or attack humans without hesitation.

                I dunno. It really doesn't take that many shock events for an animal (even a "dumb" one) to learn. Would I want to go up against a T-Rex with a cattle-prod? Hell no! But why would you be any more afraid of one in a controlled setting then you would be afraid of a tiger or lion in the same setting? Either one can kill you if it catches you without weapons or technology.

                Most predators also won't bother to hunt if they aren't hungry -- it's a waste of energy -- they never did explain (in either the b

                • Most predators also won't bother to hunt if they aren't hungry -- it's a waste of energy -- they never did explain (in either the book or the movie) why the presumably well-fed dinosaurs felt the need to go to such lengths to hunt humans.

                  There's a couple of possibilities that immediately spring to mind: they weren't all that well-fed to start out with, either so that the savage feeding displays would be more impressive, or because they just hadn't worked out the right feeding yet; or the carnivores were (to

        • by 2names (531755)
          So yes, in my case I would do everything both within and outside my power to see such a place. Not a zoo but a real, honest-to-goodness park where they can roam free and be who they are.

          Sheesh. Lay off the dope, hippie.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rucs_hack (784150)
        Eh, Hollywood sucks, but who is to say that they WOULDN'T have been able to figure out how to open a door, given the right motivation?

        If by motivation you mean claws you could fillet a buffalo with, then probably they could, at least with most of the doors I see.

        Granted, the mammalian brain has tens of millions of years of evolution over the dinos,

        The dinosaurs had no need for a large brain, they were the dominant species, most of them were big, there was food, water, it was warm, and they either ate each
        • by Shakrai (717556) *

          We only got them because we were being stomped on, chased, mauled and eaten by almost anything else alive

          And amazingly enough we survived in spite of all the disadvantages that our large brains bring. Like the complications of childbirth. How many other animals have birthing problems like we do? Or the fact that our young are completely helpless at birth, which while not exactly rare in the animal kingdom (common among mammals) is hardly an advantage.

          but how many truly smart top predators are there?

          Eh, off the top of my head, orcas [wikipedia.org] and wolves [wikipedia.org] both stand out as apex predators that are fairly intelligent. I could probably throw human beings onto tha

          • by rucs_hack (784150)
            Eh, off the top of my head, orcas and wolves both stand out as apex predators that are fairly intelligent

            I thought of the wolves thing myself, but actually their smart in their domain, but not able to think outside of, for want of a better term, the box. A lone wolf is usually not at all that efficient in the wild.

            Orca's? Well those be whales, and whales have large brains, but not, I seem to recall, that large for their body size. I'm not yet convinced as to the intelligence of whales. Not that I therefore
            • by Shakrai (717556) *

              A lone wolf is usually not at all that efficient in the wild.

              That doesn't mean they aren't smart creatures though. That just means they are social creatures that do better in packs. How well do human beings cope with extended solitude? All /. relationship jokes aside, think about it. Why else would solitary confinement be considered punishment and extended solitary cruel and unusual?

        • by Dasher42 (514179)
          Actually, brains do confer a distinct advantage to predators. I don't mean speaking the Queen's English and making parlor conversation kind of brains; I mean the brains my cat shows when she approaches from the opposite side of the nearest tree to the squirrel she's stalking.

          Here's one distinct case of how brains can confer predatory advantage.. Marsupial tigers had a much stronger bite than the modern placental counterpart. Sabretoothed cats had their famous large canines. However, the modern large cat
          • by rucs_hack (784150)
            Sabretoothed cats had their famous large canines

            Those were for biting at the throat and severing veins only, if they hit bone they were very likely to break, and they weren't for tearing chunks out either, that might break them too. It was a choke or bleed to death thing, not a savage rip the throat out affair. Their strategy was apparently much the same as modern cats, with the requirement for sabre teeth being brought about because their prey was big, and thus had large necks to get through.
    • Now all we need to find is some evidence of raptors being able to open up doors, and we'll have proof that Hollywood knows more about Dinosaurs than Science.

      Raptors can open doors, but they are slowed by them. They take 5 minutes to open the first door and half the time for each subsequent door. Remember, raptors run at 10m/s and they do not know fear.

  • Even if you prove that they were together, it still does not mean they were hunting together. It is possible that they have just finished their end-sem examn and were hanging out together to relax with some beer around a camp fire. Or they were playing three a side basketball. Or just watching TV. Or they five of them were the chumps and the sixth one is the Amway salesraptor. There are so many possibilities, these guys are jumping to conclusion creating the image of vicious hunters and contaminating the ju
    • "Amway salesraptor" Wow, that is scary. Almost as scary as a pair of bible punching Jehova's Witness raptors.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by trongey (21550)

      ... they were playing three a side basketball...

      This is rediculous. Have you ever tried to play 3on3 without anybody's paths crossing?
      For that matter, what are the chances that six raptors with beers would be able to walk a straight line?
      You clearly need to put more thought into your hypotheses before you present them. Now go and completely rewrite this paper.
    • I realize you were being funny, but your post made me wonder why anyone really would doubt that they were pack hunters. Wolves and other wild canines hunt in packs. A few species of big cats hunt in groups. Why wouldn't the small carnivores of sixty million years ago also hunt in packs?
      • by Torvaun (1040898)
        Because eagles are solo hunters, just like the rest of the modern birds of prey? I'm pretty sure that there are species of duck that hunt solo, and migrate in groups.
  • by Token_Internet_Girl (1131287) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @12:56PM (#21173789)
    "Try to imagine yourself in the Cretaceous Period. You get your first look at this "six foot turkey" as you enter a clearing. He moves like a bird, lightly, bobbing his head. And you keep still because you think that maybe his visual acuity is based on movement like T-Rex, he'll lose you if you don't move. But no, not Velociraptor. You stare at him, and he just stares right back. And that's when the attack comes. Not from the front, but from the side, from the other two 'raptors you didn't even know were there. Because Velociraptor's a pack hunter, you see, he uses coordinated attack patterns and he is out in force today. And he slashes at you with this... a six-inch retractable claw, like a razor, on the the middle toe. He doesn't bother to bite your jugular like a lion, say... no no. He slashes at you here... or here... or maybe across the belly, spilling your intestines. The point is... you are alive when they start to eat you. So you know... try to show a little respect.
    "
    • by Shakrai (717556) * on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @01:30PM (#21174321) Journal

      He doesn't bother to bite your jugular like a lion, say... no no. He slashes at you here... or here... or maybe across the belly, spilling your intestines

      I've always said that we mammals don't really have it that bad. Yeah, being eaten by a lion probably sucks, but at least he makes a halfway clean kill (closes the airway or bites into an artery and you bleed out) before him and his buds start to eat you.

      Go a little lower on the chain then mammals and you'll find out just how much of a raving bitch mother nature truly is. The lion doesn't cripple you, lay his eggs inside you, to eventually hatch and consume you from the inside out while your are still alive. The lion doesn't dissolve your insides and suck them out while you lay there paralyzed from his venom.

      Wow, I'm glad I'm on the top of the food chain.......

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, being eaten by a lion probably sucks

        Understatement of the week.......

      • If we weren't on the top of the food chain, I would certainly be an advocate of mass extinction! (till we were on top, of course)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ozbird (127571)
        Don't worry, there's still mind control parasites [livescience.com] to contend with - tinfoil hats won't help against those.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by pipingguy (566974) *
          Hermes Conrad: On to new business. Today's mission is to go to the brain slug planet.
          Dr. Zoidberg: What are we going to do there?
          Hermes Conrad: Nothing. Just walk around not wearing a helmet.
  • by hansraj (458504) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @12:59PM (#21173827)
    .. with lots of free time and a sense of humor. :|
  • by Lurker2288 (995635) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @01:11PM (#21174005)
    "The paths of the six 90 kilo raptors do not overlap where the animals walked alongside a river or stream. '"The odds of these tracks being made by different individuals that just happen to be moving in the same direction, without their tracks stepping on one another, are small," said Jerry D. Harris, director of paleontology at Dixie State College."

    Wow, they must really be smart. They travel single-file, to conceal their number.
  • but they are not very good going after you if you hide in the ceiling tiles, they find kitchen floors slippery, and a good reflective aluminum surface should be good enough to give at least one of them a banged head
  • So why don't we build a facility to breed them from DNA extracted from mosquitoes trapped in Amber, run the place with Silicon Graphics workstations with some smart ass obese slovenly IT guy... Oh wait..
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by MiniMike (234881)
      Fortunately, the difficulty in obtaining the dinosaur DNA and SGI workstations is more than compensated for by the ease of finding a smart ass obese slovenly IT guy...
  • "They're moving in herds... they do move in herds!"
  • I live in the SF Bay Area. Where is the nearest place I can take my curious children to see full sized assembled dinosaur fossil skeletons? Thank you for the slightly off topic post.
    • Try calling the California Academy of Sciences on Howard. 415-321-8000
    • I live in the SF Bay Area. Where is the nearest place I can take my curious children to see full sized assembled dinosaur fossil skeletons?
      Simple. Just stay where you are.
      No need to travel to a new place. Simply travel back in time 100 million years.
      • by TimToady (52230)
        So you think the SF Bay Area was in exactly the same place 100 million years ago, do you? Quite apart from the motion of the earth around the sun, and the motion of the sun around the galaxy, and the motion of galaxy through space, the terranes that now comprise the Bay Area were off in at least six different parts of the world at that time. So you'll have to be a bit more specific...
        • Not so. Since the universe is infinite, defining a center point is arbitrary. By choosing the ground beneath my feet as the center point of the universe, going back in time will simply reverse the effect of the various velocities you see affecting my position by defining your center point elsewhere :)
          • by TimToady (52230)
            Well, even leaving conservation of momentum out of it, before you sign up for the kind of time machine that tracks the ground under your feet, you'd better calculate the odds that the ground beneath your feet today was a pool of magma 100 million years ago. :)
  • by garompeta (1068578) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @01:54PM (#21174747)
    It was already known that Dinosaurs were sociable animals. They are still alive in a special place. It is called Congress.
  • Wake me up when there's fossil evidence that Jesus had a pet dinosaur.
    • Well, not Jesus, but in the book of Daniel, you can read about a dragon called Bel in Babylon:
      1:23 Now there was a large dragon, and the Babylonians used to revere it. 1:24 The king said to Daniel, "Surely you can't claim that this is not a living god. So worship it!" But Daniel replied, "I will worship the Lord my God alone, for he is the living God. 1:26 But, O king, if you will grant me authority I will put the dragon to death using neither sword nor staff." The king replied, "I grant you authority."

      Most
  • by Bob-taro (996889) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @03:04PM (#21175781)

    "The odds of these tracks being made by different individuals that just happen to be moving in the same direction, without their tracks stepping on one another, are small,"

    It goes way beyond that. This proves that they were marching 6 abreast. If some were walking behind the others, the footprints would still have overlapped. The theory of caveman dinosaur cavalry formations has never had any fossil evidence ... until now!

  • Therefore tigers, leopards, cheetahs, cougars, bobcats, servals and ocelots must all hunt in packs. And that's how we do Science on Slashdot, apparently.
  • Those dinosaurs in Jurassic Park were NOT "raptors", but more closely resembled the deinonycus.

    Velociraptors were smaller, and had longer, crocodile like jaws.

    This has been annoying the crap out of me since Jurrasic Park first came out.

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