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Deinonychus was a carnivorous dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period, between about 100 and 110 million years ago. It is a fairly well studied dinosaur, with several nearly complete skeletons having been found. It is a member of the Dromaeosaurid class of dinosaurs, which also includes Dromaeosaurus and Velociraptor. It was about 3 meters in length, but probably did not stand as high as an average person. Paleontologists estimate its weight at about 70 kilograms. All known examples have been found in North America.

The skull of Deinonychus is lightly built, with large openings for the eyes, two characteristics of modern predators. The teeth are serrated, and point toward the back of the skull, which would have allowed the animal to tear off great chunks of flesh from its prey.

The arms are long and end in large, three fingered hands equipped with very large, curved talons. Together with the broad upper arm bone, with its roughened attachment points for what must have been very powerful chest muscles, this indicates that they were used to catch and hold prey.

The name Deinonychus means “terrible claw” and comes from the beast’s most striking feature, a giant claw on the second toe of its hind legs. The claw is articulated on an abnormally large joint, which would have allowed the animal to hold it clear of the ground when running, to protect the point. Deinonychus likely used the claw as its main weapon, slicing it into its victim while holding onto the prey with its powerful arms and jaws. The hind leg itself was very powerfully built and Deinonychus was likely a fast runner.

The tail is also interesting, being stiffened by a series of overlapping, bony rods. This would have allowed the dinosaur to hold the tail very stiff while running, as a counterbalance for its upper body, and possibly to assist it in making sharp turns.

Deinonychus was a relatively small predator, living at the same time as giant Sauropods, and some scientists speculate that it may have hunted in packs, much like wolves, preying on the young or injured of these giants. Others hypothesize that it hunted alone, like today’s big cats.

All in all, Deinonychus was surely one of the most unusual and spectacular predators that ever lived.

Note: The 'Velociraptors' featured in Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park are actually closer in size and appearance to Deinonychus than to the actual Velociraptor remains that have been discovered.

Deinonychus was also an excellent gothic/ doom metal band from the Netherlands.

Distinguished by unique 'mournful' vocals from founding member Marco Kehren, their music ranges from up-tempo, eerie numbers (particularly on the album 'The Ark Of Thought') to crushingly deep and slow ('Insomnia'). Were it not for the unequivocally depressing atmosphere, one might be tempted to describe their sound as 'rockin'. It does, in fact, rock quite steadily.

Typically, the sound is composed of mellow distorted guitars, overbearing Gothic keyboard (protracted chorus 'oohs' being particularly common, also strings), fast and uncompromisingly repetitive drumming occasionally giving way to slow, waltz-like rock (although it should be noted that virtually everything is presented in 4/4). But it is the haunting vocals that really give Deinonychus its character. Kehren's voice ranges from a morbid croak to unabashed wails of anguish, with very little in between. In the profoundly Gothic early days of the band, when vampirism was a key theme, he sported a long and quite fetching mullet that trailed like a windswept fountain of hirsute agony over the breast of supine maidens (on album covers).

The casual listener will soon be nodding grimly along to the curious melodies, enthused by the improbable groove underlying each mournful dirge.

Discography

The Silence Of December 1995

When The Rain Falls 1996

The Weeping Of A Thousand Years 1996

Ark Of Thought 1997

Deinonychus 1999

Mournument 2002

Insomnia 2004

Warfare Machines 2007

As of 2008 Deinonychus is no longer a band. Kehren can also be heard on the Bethlehem album 'Sardonischer Untergang Im Zeichen Irreligioeser Darbeitung' (S.U.I.Z.I.D).

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