Alas, what movies must do with dinosaurs to make them “wow” the public more. Such is the case with the Velociraptor from the Jurassic Park franchise. Along with the size of the animals being far too large (true Velociraptors were little knee-high fellows), the iconic position of their hands–oh-so-creep-inducing when they open doors–is certainly in question. In films, toys and artwork, “raptor” hands have the palms facing downward with the fingers curving down in a vicious arc.
We now have evidence from two different sources that theropods(the predatory dinosaur group to which Velociraptors belong) could not put their hands in this position.
Using actual skeletons, scientists can articulate the bones to see what their natural position was,and, as a result,see how well the animals could pronate their arms (rotate the lower arm at the elbow, thereby turning the palm downward). Recent studies on the arm bones reveal that Velociraptor’s musculature would not have allowed them to do this.
Secondly, footprints of theropod dinosaurs in a resting, all-fours position show the hands resting on their sides.
So the next time you play “Raptor Hunt” with your kids, and you’re the raptor, hold your hands down in almost in a clapping position instead of the usual iconic curling down of your claws. It may be less scary but it’s more correct!