This is the famous Velociraptor mongoliensis in its native late Cretaceous Gobi Desert. Velociraptor was a small dromaeosaur, or raptor dinosaur, and contrary to its most famous depictions was almost certainly feathered from head to tail. This is no longer based merely on phylogenic evidence, either - as of 2007, reanalysis of the fossil has shown that its posterior forearm contains quite obvious quill knobs.

Velociraptor surely went after larger prey like Protoceratops at least occasionally, as we have fossil evidence that it certainly did so. However, like many modern mid-sized carnivores, its diet probably consisted of a large proportion of much smaller animals, which it may have ambushed or sniffed out of crevices. I imagine such a predation event would have been rather felid in nature, wherein the animal displayed a curious mixture of predatory grace and pure silly ridiculousness as it bounced and flailed after a frantic prey animal. In this case the prey in question is Zalambdalestes, a small shrewlike eutherian from the Djadochta Formation of Inner Mongolia.

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Andrewsarchus mongoliensis (“Andrew’s Ruler”)

….One of my favorite prehistoric mammals for semi-obvious reasons, Andrewsarchus was a species of mammal that lived during the Eocene epoch. Although Andrewsarchus looks similar to a creodont or carnivoran it is actually more closely related to Artiodactyls.

A.mongoliensis is known only from a single meter long skull found in Mongolia and as such much of its paleobiology is up for debate. Some sources claim it could of been a predator and others claim it was a scavenger. Newer theories claim that it could of been an omnivore due to its ‘blunt’ teeth. However, Andrewsarchus did posses a very strong set of jaws, one of the strongest of all land mammals, and could bite straight through bones. Judging from the coastal location of its fossil Andrewsarchus probably frequented beaches and likely fed beached whales, turtles, shellfish and large land mammals (such as brontotheres)

Phylogeny

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Artiodactyla-Andrewsarchus-A.mongoliensis

Images: DiBgd and Ryan Somma

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Velociraptor Mongoliensis”

This is my interpretation of the little raptor. After studying corvid/raptor feet as well as bird of prey markings and feathers and combining it’s environment and fossils of it’s ancestors; This is what I came up with. I used a little bit of RoadRunner for the face marking.

I also added an egg tooth to the tip of the nose along with shortening the mouth like birds, instead of the split face look you get with lizards and other reptiles.

I also made the boot(the part the raptor sits on when sitting down), vent exposed.

It’s a shot in the dark, but it was fun to do in the end.

Done on 9x12’ sketchbook paper, india inks, watercolor, and colored pencils

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Camille Grohé, a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, is blogging from the field during an expedition to Inner Mongolia.

In her first Fieldwork Journal, Grohé compares the 21st century fossil-finding expedition to the famous Central Asiatic Expeditions, led by Museum paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews in the 1920’s, which yielded amazing discoveries such as dinosaur nests, and gigantic fossil mammals such as Andrewsarchus mongoliensis.

Read about the changes Inner Mongolia has gone in the past century, and what it means for paleontologists

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