Dec 172011

I mentioned on Twitter and Facebook that I had selected a “silly” topic for my final project in the Advanced Technical Writing class I am taking at the University of Maryland University College. Several of you said that you’d like to read it, so here in all of its glory is “How To Survive A Raptor Apocalypse”.

P.S. At the end of the post I’ve uploaded a video of the PowerPoint presentation I made to accompany the paper.

Big thanks to my buddy Ned for giving it the once-over with this Technical Writing mojo!


In 1993, Steven Spielberg amazed the world with his blockbuster film Jurassic Park. The movie, based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton, was a cautionary tale about the potentially horrible consequences that could result from attempting to clone dinosaurs in the modern world. While many audiences were thrilled by the movie, they all went home from the theater that night safe in the knowledge that it was entirely fictional, and that nobody could actually clone dinosaurs.

They were wrong.

A team of Russian and Japanese scientists has announced plans to clone a wooly mammoth sometime in 2012. By combining the DNA of an elephant with marrow cells from a thigh bone of a deceased mammoth, the researchers believe they can re-create an animal that has not walked the planet in more than 10,000 years (Poeter).  When Jurassic Park was released back in 1993 it was impossible to imagine that science would ever be able to actually re-create the fictional experiments that were portrayed in that film, but not even 20 years has passed since then and mankind is playing with fire by reaching back thousands of years to defy the laws of Natural Selection and raise a species from the dead. If these scientists are successful, it’s only a matter of time before they reach even further back in time to satisfy their mad desires to see dinosaurs walking the Earth again.

When they do, it will be a sad day for us all.

If you wish to survive the inevitable dinosaur apocalypse, the time to prepare is NOW. If you wait until the creatures have broken free from their mad creators it will be too late. This guide will help you prepare yourself and your home for the horrible day when science trumps logic and we are thrust head first into a war with a vicious and deadly foe.



It is important to note that, while accurately portraying the risks involved in cloning dinosaurs, Jurassic Park actually did a great disservice to the public by misleading it into believing that the primary threat during a dinosaur apocalypse came from Velociraptors. This is incorrect, but the premise that was set in the film has even led to the creation of organizations such as The American Society of Velociraptor Attack Prevention ( Real Velociraptors were quite different from the beasts portrayed in the movie. They were small (no larger than a big chicken), covered in feathers, and NOT pack hunters (Strauss). While certainly a vicious animal, a Velociraptor would not pose nearly the threat to human life that was seen in Jurassic Park. The most immediate threat during an actual dinosaur apocalypse would come from the Deinonychus.

Deinonychus is Greek for “terrible claw,” and the dinosaurs that bear that name were the actual inspiration for the reptiles seen in Jurassic Park(Strauss). For the sake of clarity, when this document references “raptors” please assume that it is referring to the Deinonychus and not a Veolciraptor. In order to best prepare your defense against Deinonychus attacks, you should familiarize yourself with the physical characteristics of the beast as shown in the following illustration:

 © 1995 Dorling Kindersley Multimedia

  • Size: Deinonychus are approximately 12 feet long and 150 pounds (Strauss). The average Deinonychus would be considerably taller than a human being.
  • Toe Claw: The primary method of attack used by the Deinonychus is the use of the large toe claw. In fact, the bite of the raptor is relatively “weak” in comparison to this attack – about as strong as the bite from a modern-day alligator (Strauss).
  • Feathers: Scientists almost universally agree that the Deinonychus would have had feathers of some kind, but no conclusive evidence has been found to prove this theory one way or the other (Strauss). It is important to be aware of the possibility, and to be able to identify this type of raptor regardless of whether or not it has feathers when encountered.

    Illustration : Emily Willoughby

  • Pack Mentality: Like the fictional Velociraptors from Jurassic Park, the Deinonychus was most likely a pack hunter. Fossil evidence shows that this type of raptor preyed on the two-ton Tenontosaurus. Due to the disparity in size, it is safe to conclude that the Deinonychus had a herd mentality. It is this type of group think that makes the raptor especially dangerous, as they will work together to hunt their prey (You!).



The less preparation that you need to put into your home in the event of a raptor apocalypse the better. In order to maximize your safety during this type of incident, look for the following features (illustrated below) when purchasing any new home.

  • Elevation: A home on stilts is an ideal place to wait out the initial assault during a raptor event – preferably one with a wooden staircase that can be easily detached from the main structure of the house to prevent unwanted access. If a stilted house is not available, a multi-story home still offers a considerable tactical advantage in the form of windows that do not need to be boarded up for defensive purposes (see the section below titled “During the raptor apocalypse”).

Drawing : Randall Munroe


  • Windows: The smaller and fewer the better. While large windows add a great deal of curb appeal to your home, they are also additional entry points that need to be secured to prevent entry by raptor hordes.
  • Doors: Contrary to evidence presented in the film, raptors are not intelligent enough to operate door handles (Strauss). Any doors into the home should be solid wood, with multiple deadbolts for extra security.
  • Location: Avoid purchasing a home near a large college, university, or other type of research facility. Zoos and animal refuges should also be avoided. Pay particular attention to avoiding tourist hubs like Orlando, Florida, where eccentric billionaires may be tempted to create an amusement park with real dinosaurs. Predators will move to where the food is, so ideal locations would be anywhere that is far from a major population hub.


Preparing for a raptor apocalypse is no different from preparing for any major disaster.  You need to acquire certain supplies to have on-hand in case you do not have time to get to the store when the reptilian army arrives. The following list is based on the Emergency Supply recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For more information on preparing an emergency kit, visit http://

  • Water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Non-perishable food
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Medications (at least a week)
  • Personal hygiene and sanitary items
  • Cell phones with chargers
  • Map of the local area
  • High-powered rifle or handgun with ammunition (Please see “Long Term Survival Tips and Warnings” below.)


In order to maximize your safety during a raptor apocalypse you must secure any windows that are exposed on the ground floor of your residence. To do so you must prepare in advance by following these steps:

  1. Measure all windows on the ground floor from the INSIDE of the building. Add at least four inches of additional space around all four edges of the window so that you have enough room to secure the window to the wall.
  2. Purchase plywood from your local hardware store that is at least 5/8th of an inch thick and has been cut to the measurements taken in Step 1 above.
  3. Purchase drywall screws that are at least 2” long to secure the plywood to the inner wall. You should have enough screws to place one every 12” along the border of the plywood for maximum security.
  4. Purchase a cordless drill and keep it charged at all times so that it is fully powered when you need to secure your plywood on the window frames.
  5. Store the plywood and mounting screws somewhere inside your home. Do not assume you will have enough time to bring all of the materials in when news of the dinosaur attack reaches you.


Time is of the essence during a raptor apocalypse. Once freed from whatever type of holding facility they were previously contained in, the raptors are likely to attack any living being they come across during their initial frenzy. With that in mind, it is vital that the following things be done as quickly as possible.

  1. Bring any children or pets into your home and lock the doors. While it may be uncomfortable to keep pets inside a secure shelter, animals that have been domesticated will stay near your home even if they have been left outside. The more noise they make attempting to get into the house with you the more likely they are to attract the attention of a raptor, so it’s best to just bring them in. If the need to remain secure in your home lasts beyond your food supplies, a pet can also substitute as an alternate food source.
  2. Secure all first floor windows with your previously prepared plywood anchors.Note: You will need to remove any curtain hanging apparatus around the window to board it up. Do not worry about doing this in a manner that preserves the hardware – Just tear it down. If you survive the raptor apocalypse there should be any number of stores with curtain rods available to loot as you rebuild society.
  3. If you have a multi-story home, move your family to the upper reaches of the home and quietly wait out the onslaught. Remember! Raptors are predators, so while making any kind of noise is undesirable, it is especially important to avoid crying, whimpering, or moaning. Any noises that make your home sound like it has wounded prey inside of it are that much more likely to attract the attention of a raptor.


  • There’s no way to know for sure how long it will be before your raptors inadvertently cut off power to your home, so make sure that the you save your non-perishable food until after you have exhausted all food that requires refrigeration or freezing.
  • Once your home is secure do not, under any circumstances, open the door for screaming neighbors or family members. While it may be heartbreaking to hear the cries of your friends and loved ones being ripped apart by mindless killing machines outside of your home, it’s a far cry from having your heart actually ripped from your chest by a mindless killing machine who made it into your home due to a moment of foolish generosity on your part.
  • Firearms are dangerous and should be operated only by those who have been fully trained in their use. Before bringing any firearm into your home, make sure to take a safety course at your local gun range.  Keep a trigger lock on your weapon at all times, and use it only when absolutely necessary to defend your home. A ricocheting bullet is just as dangerous as a raptor!


While it’s impossible to avoid the fact that a raptor apocalypse will be a horrifying experience, with a little preparation and a calm head you can improve your chances of actually surviving long enough for the military to mobilize and remove the threat. The most important thing is not to panic. Remember! This isn’t the movies, and while a raptor is a deadly foe it is by no means a calculating killer that will seek you out simply for revenge. Once you’ve established that you aren’t going to be an easy kill, a herd of raptors will very likely move on to easier, less prepared prey. Don’t panic and you may actually find that, in the end, the long-term benefits of surviving a raptor apocalypse far outweigh the disadvantages you face during the event itself.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention(May 18, 2011). Emergency Preparedness and Response. Retrieved December 13, 2011 from

Munroe, Randall (Artist). (n.d.). Velociraptors [Comic]. Retrieved December 13, 2011 from

Kindersley, Dorling (Artist). (1995). Meat-Eaters [Infographic]. Retrieved December 13, 2011 from

Poeter, Damon. (December 7th, 2011). Scientists Embark on Ambitions Attempt to Clone a Wooly Mammoth. Retrieved from,2817,2397357,00.asp

Strauss, Bob (n.d). 10 Facts About Deinonychus. Retrieved December 13, 2011 from

Strauss, Bob. (n.d.). 10 Facts About Veolcirpator. Retrieved December 13, 2011 from

Strauss, Bob. (n.d.). Deinonychus. Retrieved December 13, 2011  from

Willoughby, Emily (Artist). (n.d.) Deinonychus [Painting]. Retrieved December 13, 2011 from


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  One Response to “How To Survive A Raptor Apocalypse”

  1. Good read. Reminded me of the Zombie Survival Guide…

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