The pyroraptor name means fire thief, it does not immediately conjure up images of this small raptor swimming around in Icy waters with the agility of a penguin. However if you have just walked out of the cinema and found this page, you have no doubt just watched Jurassic World Dominion and have some questions. One of those is “could the pyroraptor swim” We answer this and more below.
Pyroraptor Fossil evidence discovered so far suggests it was a land based carnivorous dinosaur that lived in France 70 million years ago. No evidence of evolutionary adaptions suggest this dinosaur was aquatic or had specialized swimming ability. However, other raptors like Halszkaraptor may have been aquatic.
So currently there is no evidence to suggest that pyroraptor had a specially evolved swimming ability at all. In fact there are very few fossils found about this small member of the raptor (dromaeosaur) family to know much about its behaviour without comparing it to other raptor relatives..
We will look at this in a little more detail below. However we also have two articles on pyroraptor if you want more information about this cooly named dinosaurs. We have a questions and answers article on pyroraptor and a 25 facts about pyroraptor on our site.
You can find the find the links here and in the page below. However here we will try to answer the question could pyroraptor swim?
Could The Pyroraptor Swim?
Did Pyroraptor swim? Well, there’s no evidence of this, but there are some certainly some interesting theories. .
The fossil record of pyroraptor currently consisting of toe claws a forearm bone (ulna) and two teeth. (possibly more teeth discovered in Spain) These provide no evidence that pyroraptor was an aquatic dinosaur. It was likely able to swim to some degree, but very unlikely to live mostly or even partly in water.
There is very little evidence to suggest the were significant numbers of dinosaurs who did spend time in water to the extent they would be able to swim effectively, and certainly not well enough to hunt. If swimming it was likely it was more to overcome obstacles or while moving from one area to another.
As we explore below there was at least one member of the raptor family that had evolved to dive and move underwater like a cormorant, and there were certainly water living birds over 120 million years ago so it is not beyond the realms of possibility that pyroraptor could swim. However there is not any evidence of this yet, just like there is no proof it could or couldn’t fly, or talk, or drive a car. the absence of evidence doesn’t make it probable, just remotely possible.
Movies get to embellish and add drama to their stories, a luxury science does not have. So take it as entertainment, think how cool it looks underwater and be thankful that it definitely wasn’t an 8 foot long dinosaur, and almost certainly wasn’t a penguin like swimmer either.
Why Could Pyroraptor not swim
We mention above and below that an absence of proof is not proof of absence, but with pyroraptor there is an absence of knowledge in general. it was discovered after a forest fire in France ( hence the name which means Fire thief) and not much of it was discovered at all.
We look at the reasons why pyroraptor was unlikely to be classified as a swimming dinosaur below.
- Limited Fossil Evidence: There Is limited fossil evidence of pyroraptor in general, and certainly not that indicated a swimming lifestyle. Currently fossils are limited to some toe claws, an arm bone, teeth and a finger. None of which show evolutionary characteristics that pyroraptor was a swimmer. Even later fossils including tail, back and other ambones ( radius) show no swimming adaptations.
- No swimming Relatives: Pyroraptor is thought to be related to other raptor species like micro raptor, and sinornithosaurus. These other dinsoaur fossils, which are more complete also show no adaptations for swimming, and in fact both were showing devolvement for flight rather than water borne abilities. In fact only one raptor (dromaeosaur) species so far has been shown to be adapting to a water environment which is Halszkaraptor which we look at below.
- Waterproofing of features: it is thought that Pyroraptor was feathered like its relatives. It is possible to develop waterproofing, and oils to repel water and many water birds have done just that over the million of years. However, it is not thought that 66 million years ago that significant numbers of feathered dinosaurs had evolved to this level yet, only ancient birds. It may well be that the pyroraptor depicted in the new Jurassic World Dominion movie have the traits of a fairly recently discovered dinosaur as well, this potential water raptor was called the Halszkaraptor and is thought to be able to dive and move in water.
- Only theories not evidence: Although there were theories a few years a go that Dinosaurs like archaeopteryx actually may have climbed cliffs to dive into the sea to catch fish, and this was a dinosaur 80 million years before Pyroraptor, these theories have never been accepted and no proof has been put forward to support them.
Why did they give the pyroraptor swimming abilities.
We can only offer a theory on this, as the movie is not out for 6 weeks ( at the time of writing) and we don’t have a direct line to Colin Trevorrow the director we have to guesstimate at this.
In each Jurassic Park or World movie the writers or film makers have given something to cause a little outrage with all of us dinosaur fans. Some of it may not have been intentional, just used as artistic license, or was using old dinosaur knowledge, but all of these have gottn fans talking and provides and sparks a lot of debate.
I have a feeling some “errors” of these might be introduced on purpose though. To create a buzz or a stir around the movie, and get not just the Glossy magazines writing about the movie, but also the scientific ones as well.
One example is me writing this article, but even i was late by a day, and youtube already has the videos showing the swimming Pyroraptor with the comments flowing by the minute.
All of this is free publicity, whether you think it is cool, or if it is the worst thing since rexy and Spino having a fight it gets people talking! and for free!
it is a great marketing technique to get people talking about your movie, especially in a segment as passionate as dinosaur fans. So we have the following. the information is in a table to make it easier. We have no knowledge if these were accidental, artistic or intentional inaccuracies, but they have all had the same effect!
People are talking!
Table 1: Depictions of Dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World Movies
|Jurassic Park Movie||Possible Inaccuracies compared to current knowledge.|
|Jurassic Park||Fast Tyrannosaurs|
Smaller and poisonous Dilophosaurus
bigger raptors with no feathersThe Lost WorldPack of smaller Compsognathus and wrong name
Larger Velociraptors still no feathersJurassic Park 3Spinosaurus size and power
Hyper intrigant raptors
Slight feathers on a velociraptor.
|Jurassic World||Indominus rex|
Hyper intelligent raptors with again no feathers
Dimorphodon much bigger and more violent
Mosasaurus the size of a blue whale!
|Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom||Indo Raptor|
Price of dinosaurs
Mosasaurus again MassiveJurassic World DominionSize of quetzalcoatlus
pyroraptor swimming abilities and bigger
Giganotosaurus and T-Rex fighting in the beginning
Morus intrepidus size
Atrociraptor much bigger and no feathers
Also the last three movies in the Jurassic World Series have been all about the genetic modifications of dinosaurs. So they have given themselves almost carte blanche to change them anyway they wish. Remember the indominus Rex was able to camouflage, and realise they were tracking her, no dinosaur we know of could do that.
As the movie is not released yet it may turn out that Pyroraptor has been modified to be a cold weather dinosaur with the swimming ability of a 8 foot penguin! its a movie, this is fine!
In their world “nobody gets excited by a dinosaur anymore!” fortunately in our world we still do!
Were there any swimming Raptors?
Halszkaraptor is a 75 million year old relative of the velociraptor that seems to have adapted to an aquatic lifestyle. It is thought to be comparable to a modern cormorant type bird that like the cormorant was able to use its wings to move, with some agility, underwater.
It was thought to be agile enough to be able to catch fish and other prey while in the water. The arm bones also show similarities to diving birds and aquatic reptiles that use their forelimbs to swim.
There were also thought to be non dinosaurs, early birds that were able to swim, and spend time in water. one called Gansus yumenensis is though to the earliest and lived 120 million years ago. it is possible the Jurassic World Pyroraptor is a mix of the Halszkaraptor and this aquatic bird. However, there is no suggestion it was able to swim as well as the pyroraptor in the movie. ( it is of course just a movie!)
Could Pyroraptor live in the cold and snow
It has been proven that dinosaurs did live in cold climates, and all year round not just migrating through, so although the climate where pyroraptor lived 70 million years ago was not cold, the pyroraptor is thought to be feathered, and as it was fast moving, warm blooded, it could regulate its body temperature So it would be able to survive in cold environments.
We are just not sure how willing it would be to jump into a frozen lake, as not many animals outside of the arctic choose to do this!
However, it is also mentioned in the trailer that “That can’t be right” so we have a feeling some heaving genetic modification is involved here. I wonder if they will put that in the Jurassic World Evolution Dinosaur computer game!
What makes a swimming dinosaur?
If we discount Plesiosaurs, Mosasaurs, and ichthyosaurs as they were not dinosaurs they were Marine reptiles that evolved to be solely sea animals we are left with very few Water living dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were almost entirely land based animals, which we discuss more in the section below.
However, evolutionary adaptations that would indicate a more aquatic lifestyle include evidence of webbing between limbs and more powerful tails designed for propelling the dinosaur through water, rather than balancing on land.
Only one dinosaur has at lest one of these evidenced, though more are suspected of having some adaptations yet to be discovered. that Aquatic dinosaur is the Spinosaurus, not the pyroraptor.
Can any dinosaurs swim?
it is thought that most, not all though, dinosaurs would have had some swimming ability. It is likely that even large carnivores like TRex would have been able to cross rivers or small lakes with a mixture of doggy paddle (or dinosaur paddle? they were first after all) and pushing off the bottom. In fact there are fossil records that suggest this. We have a much more in depth article on swimming dinosaurs here and below.
Currently the only know dinosaur that had evolutionary evidence for swimming is the Spinosaurus, and that evidence is pretty recently discovered. it has an eel like tail that would have made it both agile and fast through the water. (more here) No other species has been found with these adaptations as of yet.
it is thought that other dinosaurs would have been comfortable in water, other piscivorous (fish eater) like suchomimus, baryonyx and even some Pterosaurs, however where they had developed agility enough to hunt is not proven yet. Pyroraptor is not on this list of possible aquatic or even semi aquatic dinosaurs however.
As we mentioned above it is unlikely, and unproven so far, that pyroraptor was an aquatic dinosaur. it lived in an area of large islands that were fairly large and would not require the need to swim between them with any regularity.
However, depicting it as a swimming dinosaur in a movie is absolute fine, we don’t know if it could, we have no proof of its swimming abilities, but an an absence of proof does not mean proof of absence and who knows what facts we will dig up in the coming years.
Maybe Pyroraptor was a 66 million year old Penguin after all! However it definitely wasn’t 8 feet long, that we can prove!
Hi, I am a General Studies and English Teacher who has taught all over the world. What started as a fossil collection became a great way to teach, motivate and inspire students of all ages and all over the world about dinosaurs