This absolutely fantastic field bag was created by Angie T of Miskatonic River Valley Leatherworks and was completed just before Christmas. It is entirely hand-made of real leather and is extremely durable.

The design features Microraptor, the famous holotype with feather imprints. I am totally in love with this bag and could not be more pleased! Check out Angie’s blog (linked above) if you’re interested in the process details, or if you’re interested in commissioning a custom field bag for yourself. 

The recently described Deinocheirus is surely one of the weirdest theropods we know: this humongous, feathered ornithomimosaur sought for food from lake shores and rivers, eating everything it wanted. Its similarity to a gigantic wading bird is striking and although its modern analogue would be the spoonbill (as Duane Nash pointed out in an excellent post on Antediluvian Salad.blogspot, when I think of a big shorebird the first thing I’ve got in mind is obviously the shoebill. And when I think of a shoebill, this (link: is the picture I’m thinking of. Of course putting a duck inside its mouth wasn’t very cool, so I thought that a generic deinonychosaur would be something more suitable. 
It’s obvious that Deinocheirus hunted small vertebrates, but its fragile skull probably couldn’t handle bigger preys like this one. This doesn’t mean that the animal couldn’t have tried at all and maybe it’s just giving a ride to the maniraptoran, like the shoebill did in the photo (that’s right, it’s not trying to eat it - though it could). The idea was good enough so I gave it a go.
Sadly, during the scanning process lots of shadows and effects were lost so if I’ll ever have the occasion I’ll scan it properly. Still, it’s not that bad - I think that the blue hue is a nice touch.
Maybe I’ll do a coloured version with some changes (I’ll sure add a background), but for now this is what you have.

Deinocheirus in “Don’t Forget to Duck”, 2014.
Pencils (H, HB, B, 2B), Adobe Photoshop.
References: Lee et al., 2014.

Blog link:
DeviantArt link:


Carnegie Museum - Part 3

The first thing to greet one’s arrival to the Cretaceous hall is one of the famous quilled specimens of Psittacosaurus. Across the way are some other Jehol Biota animals, complete with models (like this Sinornithosaurus). They look fairly well, so far as museum models of feathered dinosaurs go—that is to say, they don’t look quite like naked dinosaurs with feathers just glued on. Beside the models are a couple specimens, including this Caudipteryx with feathers and its last meal, preserved in its stomach.

A step ahead is Protoceratops, doing what it does best, whatever that may be, and across from that, Corythosaurus. Just ahead are the heavy-hitters of the Cretaceous exhibit, a pair of Tyrannosaurus rex feuding over a corpse. It’s that of Edmontosaurus, being snarled over by tyrannosaurs because this is all edmontosaurs ever did.

Just around the corner is a rare site in most dinosaur halls, a mounted Pachycephalosaurus at full charge. Next to him are a rogue’s gallery of his marginocephalian buddies, the ceratopsians. From the left clockwise, they're Pachyrhinosaurus, Zuniceratops, Diabloceratops, and Torosaurus. Their more famous cousin, Triceratops, stands a bit further down.

Last on the way out of the dinosaur hall is the recently-named caenagnathid Anzu wileyi. The fossil was discovered 15 years ago, and the holotype at this point was presumably sitting just under my feet. Spooky.

Past here, some Cenozoic skeletons and another photoset.

A second concept art for my thesis and paleo art practice! Sketched a bunch of dynamic poses my friends looked over and gave me feedback on, and finally decided on a bathing Deinonychus one!

Once again thank you so much to Xane and Emily for their patience and feedback! And everyone else who gave me awesome feedback and motivation looking over the first concept I submitted!

This is a speculative reconstruction of a subadult Deinonychus displaying semi-arboreal characteristics. It’s based on the tenuous assumption that the type specimen (YPM 5205) represents an immature animal, as compared to later specimens with slightly different morphological characteristics, most notably the Harvard specimen (MCZ 4371) described in 1976. Ostrom noted in the description for this newer specimen that one of the major differences between this and the type is the angle of curvature for the second pedal claw: the newer specimen had a much straighter sickle claw, while the original was very strongly curved. However, he had no opinion at the time on whether this difference in morphology represented individual, ontogenetic, or sexual variation.(1)

In 2006, Parsons & Parsons demonstrated unequivocally that the Harvard specimen is a sexually mature adult, and identified some unique adult characters associated with this and other mature adult Deinonychus specimens.(2) Further study by the same authors in 2009 tentatively indicates that the type specimen—a possible subadult—may be associated with arboreal characteristics. Adult specimens are also found to have proportionally shorter arms, leaving room to speculate whether the longer arms of subadults could have been a semi-volant adaptation involved in some incipient gliding (or, perhaps more accurate for an animal that size, “descent-slowing”) capabilities. The more strongly recurved second pedal claw is implicated in climbing, and its lateral compression and inner arc are compared in this paper to the same ungual in Melanerpes, the red-headed woodpecker (a highly scansorial modern bird).(3)

Behavior rarely fossilizes, and the idea that immature Deinonychus occupied a partially arboreal niche is still highly speculative, especially given that few modern archosaurs possess markedly different ecologies at different ontogenic stages. And while I don’t usually support copying extant birds this precisely for serious paleoart, it proved to be an excellent practice piece to flesh out a highly speculative idea.

This piece is based directly on an excellent photograph by my most admired living scientist, experimental psychologist Steven Pinker, who was kind enough to grant me permission to do so. Pinker is a world-renowned cognitive scientist as well as a talented photographer, and you can check out more of his better angles of our nature on his website at

It’s interesting to note that of all known specimens of deinonychosaurs, a sizable percentage of them represent juveniles or subadults, animals that lived very brief lives before succumbing to nature’s indifference. For the life of a Deinonychus was surely solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

1. Ostrom, J. H. (1976). “On a new specimen of the Lower Cretaceous theropod dinosaur Deinonychus antirrhopus”. Breviora 439: 1–21.

2. Parsons, W. L.; Parsons, K. M. (2006). “Morphology and size of an adult specimen of Deinonychus antirrhopus, (Saurischia, Theropoda)”. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 26 (3 sup.): 109A.

3. Parsons, W. L.; Parsons, K. M. (2009). “Further descriptions of the osteology of Deinonychus antirrhopus (Saurischia, Theropoda)”. Bulletin of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences 38: 43–54.

Dromaeosaurus albertensis

A highlight of my younger years were the occasional pilgrimages to the hallowed halls of our local science museum; the specimens within always fueled my imagination, and one of my favorites was the articulated skeleton of Dromaeosaurus mounted as if perched on a Centrosaurus skull.

Dromaeosaurus was a relative of the more famous Velociraptor, though with a more robust skull. It lived in what is now Canada (including DinosaurProvincialPark in Alberta), and its fossils are found in rocks dating to the Campanian age of the Late Cretaceous, about 75 million years ago. So far the recovered remains have been incomplete, so this rendition is somewhat more speculative than usual, and based on other related species. The dinosaur probably massed comparably to a modern day coyote, though with its large claws and robust jaws it may have been considerably more formidable.

After reading the excellent recent book All Yesterdays (by Conway, Kosemen, Naish and Hartman), I thought it might be good to step away from the typical paleo-art of charging, thrashing, monstrous theropods with mouths agape and roaring, and depict a quieter scene of dromaeosaur daily life.

Some relevant links (speaking of All Yesterdays):

If you like Dromaeosaurids, you should definitely also check out Emily Willoughby’s art:

Getting better, but I know I have a lot of learning to do, so constructive critiques welcome and appreciated. I may never draw dromaeosaurs again, though – those feathers were a headache. 

I made this using Photoshop CS3 and a Wacom Intuos tablet.

Please do not reproduce without permission.

Diagnostic anatomical reconstruction of Deinonychus antirrhopus, intended loosely for Wikipedia but also as an experimental piece to show pretty much exactly how I believe this animal looked in life.

This was largely inspired by an interesting Facebook discussion with paleoartist Julius Csotonyi about arm-folding in paravian dinosaurs. It occurred to me that people seldom reconstruct paravians, particularly dromaeosaurs, with their arms folded in a reasonable and accurate way. Julius made the fair point that these animals probably didn’t carry their arms out in front of the body, as is so often depicted (in skeletals and otherwise — it makes sense in skeletals, to adequately show the hand and arm anatomy), because such an awkward orientation would leave the hand and arm feathers open to damage and breakage. But they also can’t fold them tightly against the breast or back like birds do, because they lack the mobility to do so.

So how did Deinonychus normally carry its arms? Senter’s 2006 paper on forelimb function in Deinonychus and Bambiraptor shows that the humerus couldn’t rotate much past the horizontal with respect to the scapula. In addition, Sullivan et al. 2010 — winningly translated to layman coherency by Matt Martyniuk — shows that wrist mobility in many paravians is much less than you might expect, given their similarity to birds. The wrist of Deinonychus antirrhopus specifically would not have allowed it to bend its hands even 90° with respect to the arm!

Given these limitations, most of the flexion would have to occur at the elbow, but a fully flexed elbow would mean that the hands would be hanging below the body, not held sleek and secure alongside the body. The arm orientation in my illustration above is based on what I think is probably the perfect configuration for carrying the arms: a fully-flexed shoulder, a fully-flexed wrist, and a nearly fully-extended elbow. A few other people have drawn their dromaeosaurs with the same arm configuration, like Smnt2000 and Pilsator, so kudos to them.

Illustration based on the papers linked above as well as Scott Hartman’s beautiful skeletal. Gouache on 12” x 20” hot-pressed illustration board.