Pyroraptor is a small dromaeosaur from the late cretaceous. Discovered in Europe in 1992 after a forest fire, Pyroraptor is amongst the few raptor fossils to be found on the continent.
Fully feathered darling of Hollywood?
You don’t get dino-nerd credit if you don’t know Jurassic Park’s velociraptors weren’t velociraptors. In fact, when the child at Grant’s dig site called them ‘overgrown turkeys’, he was still giving them too much credit. The Velociraptor is more like a chicken.
Of course, dromaeosaurs as large as Jurassic Park’s exist, some even larger, but for some reason Utahraptor doesn’t vibe as well with the movie-going public.
So, said public is generally stuck in 1993, bandying about the term velociraptor as a catch-all for dromaeosaurs, believing them to be naked and leathery.
Rumors abound, however, that Jurassic World may be righting this public perception problem through the depiction of an obscure species known as Pyroraptor.
What Did Pyroraptor Look Like?
Pyroraptor, like Velociraptor, is small, about two feet tall. It’s five feet long including it’s very long tail. You would be forgiven if you thought it’s name makes it seem cooler in your mind, like a confirmed fire-breathing creature, but the name is a reference to the forest fire that unearthed it’s fossils in the south of France, not an allusion to some real-life Charmander.
How does this redeem Jurassic Park’s history with dromaeosaur-exaggeration? After perusing some documents amid rumors the little guy will take on a role in the next movie, I discover a beautiful, flame-colored coat of feathers, brilliantly rendered by Jurassic World’s PC game, Evolution.
It’s obvious the fire motif here is a design decision. Seeing a feathered creature design like this get the Hollywood treatment side-by-side with the original cast has me thrilled, and not just because it has feathers.
I’m excited because the flashy Hollywood feathering is somewhat conceivable.
Recently, paleontologists were able to deduce from fossilized melanosomes that Sinosauropteryx had ginger and white striped feathering. Tell me if these similarly-sized raptors don’t look immediately familiar:
Through an ingenious method analyzing microscopically tiny structures and comparing them to modern day structures, paleontologists were able to deduce the orange and white striped feathering pattern seen above.
I bring up Sinosauropteryx because we really don’t know much about little Pyroraptor. If you want to know where we get our information about this animal, take a look at our only window:
A blank slate, along with an awesome name, is all Jurassic World needs to make this species famous.
Of course, Jurassic World has not been released yet. But I have strong hopes the franchise is going to highlight recent, jaw-dropping discoveries not only through dialogue, but through core design decisions for the many new dinosaurs getting prepped to hit the silver screen.
And if they do go the fire-spitting route? They better include a spitting match with Dilophosaurus to compensate. Hey, if they’re not going accurate, might as well go awesome.