Pronunciation: die-NON-ee-kuss Meaning: Terrible claws Author/s: Ostrom (1969) Synonyms: Velociraptor antirrhopus First Discovery: Montana, USA Chart Position: 172
Back in the day, Thomas Huxley announced his theory that birds had evolved from fearfully-great-lizards and was almost laughed out of science, and the opinion that dinosaurs were not-very-bright sluggish layabouts persisted right into the 1960's. John Ostrom's study of Deinonychus—with its small body, sleek, horizontal posture, ratite-like spine, and enlarged raptorial claws on the feet, all suggestive of an active, agile predator—revolutionized the way scientists thought about dinosaurs and led to the "dinosaur renaissance". Truth be told, though, if Barnum Brown hadn't become so totally bored of pulling T.rex skeletons out of baron badlands we probably wouldn't be thinking about dinosaurs as we now do.
DiscoveryThe first fossils we now know belong to Deinonychus—a partial skeleton (AMNH 3015, informally named "Daptosaurus agilis") and some large teeth wrongly associated with a smaller, partial skeleton (AMNH 3041, informally named "Megadontosaurus ferox")—were discovered near Billings, Wheatland County, Montana, in 1933 by Barnum Brown. The Deinonychus holotype (YPM 5205) is a complete left foot and partial right foot found at Edwards Ranch in the Cloverly Formation of Carbon County, Montana, by an expedition from Yale's Peabody Museum in 1964. Brown's "Megadontosaurus", minus the teeth, was renamed Microvenator by John Ostrom in 1970.