Deinonychus is a genus of carnivorous dromaeosaurid coelurosauriandinosaurs, with one described species, Deinonychus antirrhopus. This species, which could grow up to 3.4 metres (11 ft) long, lived during the earlyCretaceous Period, about 115–108 million years ago (from the mid-Aptian to early Albian stages).

Based on the few fully mature specimens, Deinonychus could reach 3.4 metres (11.2 ft) in length, with a skull length of 410 mm (16.1 in), a hip height of 0.87 metres (2.9 ft) and a weight of 73 kg (161 lb), though there is a higher estimate of 100 kg (220 lb). The skull was equipped with powerful jaws lined with around seventy curved, blade-like teeth. Both the skull and the lower jaw had fenestrae (skull openings) which reduced the weight of the skull. In Deinonychus, the antorbital fenestra, a skull opening between the eye and nostril, was particularly large.

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Fact file

  • Pronounced: die-NON-i-kuss
  • Meaning of name: terrible claw
  • Length: 3m
  • Weight: 75kg
  • Teeth: backward-curving
  • Diet: carnivorous
  • Food: vertebrates, plant-eating dinosaurs
  • How it moved: on 2 legs
  • When it lived: Early Cretaceous (120 – 110 million years ago)
  • Found in: USA

Taxonomic details

  • Taxonomy: Dinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda, Neotherapoda, Tetanurae, Avetherapoda, Coelurosauria, Tyrannoraptora, Maniraptoriformes, Maniraptora, Paraves, Eumaniraptora, Dromaeosauridae, Deinonychus
  • Named by: Ostrom (1969)
  • Type species: antirrhopus