Meet Ellie the Velociraptor, the CFP mascot!

Named after Dr. Ellie Sattler, the fictional paleontologist from Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, Ellie the Velociraptor is the official mascot of the PRI Center for Paleontology. Ellie is a reconstruction of an adult Velociraptor mongoliensis from the Cretaceous of the Gobi Desert, Mongolia. Here are some fun facts about V. mongoliensis:

  • The genus Velociraptor belongs in the family Dromaeosauridae, a group of small to medium-sized theropod dinosaurs that were common in the Cretaceous Period, 140–66 million years ago.
  • The name Velociraptor is a combination of the Latin words velox (“swift”) and raptor (“thief” or “plunderer”). This is in reference to its speed and hunting ability.
  • Velociraptor mongoliensis is a well-studied dinosaur, with more than a dozen fully articulated fossil skeletons known from the 75–71 million year old sediments of the Djadochta Formation of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.
  • Velociraptor is depicted as a large, 6 ft tall dinosaur in the Jurassic Park movies, but in reality was only about the size of a modern turkey. Ellie is a life-sized reconstruction of an adult and although smaller, would have been equally terrifying!
  • Velociraptor was a fast and agile predator and, like other members of the family Dromaeosauridae, possessed a large, recurved, sickle-shaped claw on the hind foot which would have been used to disembowel its prey.
  • The long tail of Velociraptor was held rigid by long bony projections on the upper surfaces of the vertebrae (called prezygapophyses) and ossified tendons underneath, allowing it to be used like a steering rudder while the animal was running.