Velociraptor, was a small carnivorous theropod (two legged) dinosaur that lived about 75 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period in what is now Asia. It has become one of the most popular dinosaurs in popular culture. Mainly because of its appearance in the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World Movie Franchise. While these movies got a lot right, there is plenty they got wrong and the size of velociraptor is one of those. We clear this up below.
The Velociraptor was a small Theropod dinosaur of about 1.8 -2.1 metres (6-6.8 feet) in length, approximately 50 cm (1.5 feet in height) and 15-20 kgs (30-40 lbs) in weight. The popular depictions in Jurassic Park and world movie franchise are likely based of another raptor species the Deinonychus.
In the Movies it was shown as a fast and intelligent predator that was capable of taking down prey much larger than itself. While this may be true, as you can see above and from the more detailed explanations on velociraptor size, that prey was probably not human sized! We go into more detail about how big a velociraptor actually was below.
What Was The Velociraptor
Although this is one of those dinosaurs that need no real introduction as it has been on our screens since 1994 and the release of Jurassic park is was, to put it politely, and inaccurate portrayal of this dinosaur. – We go into the main differences between the two in a table further down the article.
Velociraptor was in fact a a small theropod dinosaur that lived about 75 to 71 million years ago based on the age of the fossils discovered so far. It is known by its sharp claws, especially its 6cm long claw on its feet, its slender body,feathers (on the real one) and relatively large brain.
These features made Velociraptor a formidable predator capable of hunting in packs, which we look at in more detail here and there are multiple theories, and with its light frame and comparatively strong hind legs a fast runner – we look at how fast a velociraptor was here on the site as well.
However what it wasn’t, in terms of dinosaurs at least, was large and that’s why we are here.
How Big was a Velociraptor
One common misconception is that Velociraptor was a medium sized dinosaur that stood higher than a person – Similar in size to a Deinocheirus which is thought to be the dinosaur the movie versions were based on.
In reality, Velociraptor was a relatively small dinosaur, measuring only about six feet long or a touch over with that long tail, and weighing around 30 to 40 pounds the same as a good large size turkey.
it would not have been able to look you in the eye, well unless it jumped up, and would have been about half a metre in height of 1.6 feet. Not the 6 feet tall eye to eye dinosaur you may have seen in all the movies.
|Height to Hip (m/ft)
|When it lived (mya)
While is was not as large as (still) most people think it does not make it less ferocious. it still had a mouth full of teeth and 6 cm claws on its feet to dig in and cut prey with as well of course the claws on its hand.
Other Velociraptor Traits
Velociraptor had a slender, bird-like body and was covered in feathers, which helped to insulate it and regulate its body temperature and may have been used for display though not for flight. Its most distinctive feature was its large, curved claws on its hind legs, which were used for grasping and tearing its prey.
It was also smart for a dinosaur and smart with formidable weapons make for a fearsome dinosaur, even it if was the size of a turkey. !
Controversy over Velociraptor size
While Velociraptor is generally considered a small dinosaur, there is some controversy over its size. In the popular imagination, Velociraptor is often depicted as being much larger than it actually was, thanks in part to its portrayal in movies like Jurassic Park.
Some scientists have also suggested that the fossils of Velociraptor may actually represent juveniles, and that adult Velociraptors may have been larger than previously thought. To clear this up we compare the real velociraptor with the Jurassic Park and World versions below.
|Jurassic World Velociraptor
|2.7 meters (9 feet)
|1.8 1.1meters (6 feet)
|Height to hip
|1.8 meters (6 feet)
|0.5 meters (1.6 feet)
|200 kg (440 lbs)
|15-20 kg (33-44 lbs)
|Only occasionally on head and neck (Jurassic Park 3)
|Likely covered in feathers and evidence of quills in fossils discovered.
|Complex, bird-like sounds that were used to communicate
|Uncertain, likely made some vocalizations – suggested like a cassowary.
|Packs, coordinated attacks
|Unknown and still debated, possibly hunted alone or in packs
|Highly intelligent, trainable
|Uncertain, may have been relatively smart for a dinosaur
|Blue and gray
|Unknown, but likely had some sort of camouflage
Brief history of Velociraptor discovery
Velociraptor was first discovered in 1923, and we are writing this in 2023! so Happy birthday to Velociraptor! – (though its actual birthday is on the 11th August) by a team of paleontologists in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. It got is name meaning “Fast Thief” in 1924.
Since then, many fossils of Velociraptor have been found in other parts of Asia, including China and Russia in 1971, 188 and 1990. The 1971 discovery is actually very famous and shows the velociraptor and a protoceratops who were likely fighting when they died. it was named ‘fighting dinosaurs’ and has appeared in museums all over the world.
Comparison With Other Dinosaurs
So just be be clear Velociraptor was much smaller than the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex, and most other predators ( more detail onthe link) which could grow up to 40 feet long and weigh over 7 tons.
It was also smaller than other raptors like Utahraptor, which could grow up to 23 feet long and weigh over a ton, as well as Allosaurus, which could grow up to 33 feet long and weigh up to 3 tons.
However, compared to some other raptor species like Microraptor, Velociraptor was actually larger. Microraptor was only about 2 feet long and weighed less than a pound it could however fly ( in a fashion)
We have some comparison of other famous predator dinosaurs size in the table below.
|Height to Hip (m/ft)
|When it lived (mya)
|15-23 kg/33-50 lbs
|6,800-9,500 kg/15,000 20,000 lbs
|5.5 – 6.5m/17 -19ft
|1.5 2 m/5 -6ft
|300 kg / 660 lbs
|8.5 – 10 m/28-32ft
|2.7m+/ 8-10 ft
|1000-3,500 kg/2200 -6,600 lbs
|3.4m / 11 ft
|0.8 -1.2m/ 4ft
|60-73 kg/132-161 lbs
Factors That Can Affect a Velociraptors Size
This is a long way of saying the difference between male and female dinosaurs which could have played a role in the size of Velociraptor.
Some research have suggested that males were larger and more robust than females, However in birds of prey it is often the female who is larger than the male. There is not conclusion proof of this playing a role currently.
Or where they lived! Just like in predators today the environment they live in can have evolutionary consequences and could have made a difference to how large a velociraptor grew.
Fossils of this dinosaur have been found in several different regions, including Mongolia and China, and it’s possible that different populations evolved different body sizes in response to their specific environments.
How long an animal is alive for, as a species not its actual lifespan, can play a role in how large it grows. Crocodiles for example have changed in size over their long 200 million year or so life on the planet and even humans like me and you in our small 1 million years or so of being around have gotten bigger over time.
So maybe velociraptors size could change over time. Although currently most fossils are of a similar size.
How Do We Know How Big a Velociraptor Was?
We mention the ways that paleontologists and scientists work out how to estimate the size of dinosaurs in all our how big is a dinosaur articles ( see below for a table of more dinosaurs and their size) So we have the same here.
Measurements of Fossil Bones
One of the easiest ways to estimate the size of any dinosaur including a Velociraptor is to measure the length and width of its fossilized bones providing enough have been discovered.
Paleontologists can use these measurements to calculate the length and height of the dinosaur, as well as its weight and other physical characteristics, although more complete fossils are better and obviously more accurate, it is possible even from small fossil findings as well.
Scaling Methods / Comparison to other dinosaurs
In fossils where only partial or fragmentary remains have been discovered, scientists may use scaling methods to estimate its size.
For example, they might compare the size and shape of Velociraptor bones to those of other related dinosaurs for which more complete skeletons are known, and use this comparison to estimate the size of the missing parts.
With the advent of 3D computer modeling, scientists can now create digital models of Velociraptor and other dinosaurs based on their fossil remains.
By manipulating these models and running simulations, researchers can estimate various physical characteristics of the dinosaur, including its size weight height and even its possible behaviour based on these models. It is how they worked out that a T Rex may not have been quite as fast as we thought it was!
Finally, scientists may use histological analysis, or the study of the microstructure of bones, to estimate the age and growth rate of Velociraptor and other dinosaurs.
By examining the growth rings and other features of fossil bones, they can estimate how quickly the animal grew and how long it lived, which in turn can help them estimate its size at different stages of development and when a dinosaur was an adult or a juvenile. It is kinda the same way you can tell the age of a tree by counting the rings inside it!
We have a series of articles on How Big Dinosaurs were, including sauropods and carnivores, and you can follow the links below to check out the size of other popular dinosaurs. We are expanding this section on a regular basis.
And if you wanted to know some of the smallest dinosaurs ever you can check out the article on the site as well. As although dinosaurs are often thought to be huge monstrous animals there were plenty of small ones as well and we take a look at them on the link above.
So while it was certainly a ferocious and fearsome predator, velociraptor was no giant. it was even a medium sized dinosaur. It was small at 2 metres long, about 1.5 feet tall and weight as much and a big thanksgiving turkey!
However if you were a small dinosaur in the late cretaceous without those teeth, sickle shaped claws, large brain and fast legs the sight of one or more velociraptors bearing down on you would have been a truly terrifying sight!
And frankly even if you were a average sized human it would be not be something you want to get in the way of either!
You can learn more about the velociraptor on the link below.
Hi, I am Roy Ford 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 and from that and children’s love of dinosaurs came the site dinosaur facts for kids, a resource for all ages.