In North America, teeth of the ferocious dinosaur Deinonychus are often found near remains of the huge plant-eater Tenontosaurus. At one site, a group of five Deinonychus was found with a Tenontosaurus. The planteater was much too big for a Deinonychus to kill on its own, but could they have been hunting as a pack?
Pack hunters such as wolves can bring down huge prey by cooperating. There’s no proof dinosaurs hunted in packs, and not all scientists think they did. In birds—the living descendants of dinosaurs pack hunting is almost unknown.
Tenontosaurus had no protective armor and few weapons, making it a soft target for predators. But its great size helped defend it. At about 2 tons in weight, an adult was nearly 30 times heavier than Deinonychus.
A lightweight hunter such as Deinonychus would have been amazingly agile—a quality it would have needed to dodge the swinging tail and flailing limbs of heavy prey such as Tenontosaurus.
DID YOU KNOW?
Deinonychus’s most famous feature, an enlarged claw on the second toe of its hind feet, provided its name, which means “terrible claw.”
The second claw might have been used to disembowel prey, with the predator slicing open the prey’s stomach area with a series of raking kicks.