“During the Polish-Mongolian paleontological expedition to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, in 1971, an articulated Velociraptor mongoliensis skeleton was found with hands and feet grasping a Protoceratops andrewsi. Evidence suggests that these two dinosaurs were indeed killed simultaneously, smothered by sand, possibly during a dune collapse. The active predatory nature of Velociraptor is graphically illustrated as it grasps its prey with its forelimbs, while kicking and raking the belly and chest with its hindlimbs. Protoceratops was discovered in a semi-erect stance with the Velociraptor’s right forelimb clutched between its jaws in a desperate fight for survival. Their discovery reveals a snapshot in time, of a life and death struggle, between these ancient adversaries.”

Re-creation of the fossil by Black Hills Institute of Geological Research: “The skeleton casts we used, though more complete, are positioned in poses very similar to those of the original scene”

Illustration by Peter Schouten


Raptor Mask

This is a “generic Dromaeosaur” as it is not modeled after any specific species, nor is it even slightly trying to be scientifically accurate. That said, DINOBIRD AND FEATHERS.
The resin blank that this is based on was sculpted and created by Kierstin - http://kierstinlapatka.tumblr.com/  Don’t miss out on looking at her work, because her beautiful sculpting job is the star of the show here!
I then painted it, sculpted and set teeth into it, painted acrylic half-spheres and set them for eyes, added faux fur, and feathers. This is a fully functional mask, and the wearer can see (quite well!) out of holes in front of the eyes. The jaw is articulated and fluidly moves with the wearer’s own jaw movements.

The colors and patterns were inspired by 1) Golden-Crowned Kinglets, and 2) This old art I made, http://nambroth.deviantart.com/art/Dromaeosaur-Ferns-166320439 and, 3) I had this really cool faux fur that I really, really wanted to use… and,

Her expression changes drastically depending on the angle that she looks at you from. Sometimes she looks doofy and happy, and sometimes she looks .. well, predatory.

Based on the new PLOSone paper that I posted about earlier - for those who haven’t seen, there is a new study that looks at how chickens walk differently when they have a long artificial tail strapped to their butts. The paper comes with a lovely little video of the control and experimental chickens walking. A regular chicken’s locomotion is more knee-driven, while the posterior weight of an artificial tail makes the animal walk with a hip-driven gait instead.

This study has obvious implications for how non-avian theropods walked, so I could not resist doing a quick (1 hour or so) animation of a dromaeosaur loosely based on Deinonychus doing the dino-walk.


‘Big Bird’ dino: Researchers discover largest ever winged dinosaur

by Michael Balter

Researchers now report finding the largest ever winged dino in China, a sleek, birdlike creature adorned with multiple layers of feathers all over its arms and torso that lived 125 million years ago. It almost certainly could not fly, however—an important confirmation that wings and feathers originally evolved to serve other functions like attracting mates and keeping eggs warm.

Over the past 20 years, thousands of specimens of feathered dinosaurs have been found in China’s northeastern Liaoning province, adding greatly to researchers’ understanding of the origins of flight. One of the most important of these Liaoning groups is the dromaeosaurs, which include Velociraptor of Jurassic Park fame and Microraptor, one of the few dinosaurs that scientists widely agree could probably fly. That leaves open the question of what function dinosaur wings and feathers originally served if they were not used for taking to the air.

Now, reporting online today in Scientific Reports, paleontologists Junchang Lü of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences in Beijing and Stephen Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom describe the largest known dinosaur with birdlike wings and feathers. The new, nearly complete specimen, which the pair has named Zhenyuanlong suni

(read more: Science News/AAAS)

illustration: Zhao Chuang; photo by Junchang Lu & Stephen Brusatte

I am now the proud owner of THE COOLEST custom iPhone 5S phone case that ever existed!

This beautiful case was laser-engraved by Carved.com, which is a quite lovely small business offering a variety of very high-quality real wood phone cases with an option for custom designs. The design is carved on redwood burl wood which has a gorgeous natural grain pattern.

The design is the famous Microraptor holotype, and more specifically is a stylized vector image created by my partner Jonathan (who is also an absolutely amazing dinosaur poet, so click on his gallery and check it out) in Illustrator. It will eventually be used as part of the cover for our upcoming anti-creationism book!


Jinfengopteryx elegans by Hillary Esdaile:

“New Caledonian crows fashion sticks into harpoons and use them to snag tasty grubs out of holes and rotting wood. I wanted to draw a dinosaur using tools the same way, and I figured if any dinosaur was clever enough to figure it out, it would be a troodontid. So here is Jinfengopteryx elegans, a small troodontid from China that lived around 122 million years ago. This was my first serious foray into paleo art and though I admit I took some liberties with the flora, I tried to be as accurate as I could with the dinosaur. Jaime A. Headden helped me out a lot with the anatomy (many thanks!)”

GIFs from this video

Zhenyuanlong suni is a new dromaeosaur just recently described by Steve Brusatte and Lü Junchang and published in Nature’s Scientific Reports (it’s open-access!). This little fellow was about 6 feet (2 meters) long, about the size of its Velociraptor cousin, and was preserved with amazingly large and modern-looking vaned feathers on its arms and tail. Its wings are remarkably large and clearly show the same arrangement of primaries, secondaries and coverts common to modern birds. Some of these feathers even look somewhat asymmetrical, which in modern birds only exist for flying. So what on earth would a dromaeosaur this large be doing with wings like this, when it obviously couldn’t fly?

Nest brooding, RPR, wing-assisted incline running are all possibilities, but the authors speculate that their most likely function was in display or signaling, either in courtship to impress mates, or to intimidate rivals. But all sorts of dinosaurs have been drawn displaying at rivals and females dozens of times, so I wanted to illustrate a somewhat unique idea inspired by my dad’s encounter with a cardinal last summer.

This male cardinal would come to the same sliding glass door every day and try to attack his own reflection, beating his wings against the glass, pooping all over the porch and window, and generally being full of testosterone and ire. Glass and mirrors are unnatural and therefore it’s not too surprising that an animal could be confused by them, but water? Unlikely, but let me paint the scenario:

This male Zhenyuanlong, when competing for a female, has just been forced to back down by a male with a better display. He’s feeling rather out of sorts. Hopping across some rocks in a river, he catches sight of that bright orange crest and those striking high-contrast shocks of black and white in his reflection. On some level he knows it’s not real, but seeing them just makes him so damn mad. Next thing he knows he’s fuzzed up in full display, seething with rage and crapping all over the place. He’ll show that bouncing light who’s boss!

Measured drawing of the “double sickle-claw” dinosaur Balaur bondoc from late Cretaceous Romania, compared to a present-day dog. This dinosaur was interpreted as a strange relative of Velociraptor or Deinonychus, but it is now thought to be a unique relative of early birds.


“Swift thief”
Late Cretaceous, 75-71 million years ago 

Thanks to the Jurassic Park series of novels and films, Velociraptor is one of the most famous dinosaur genera. However, JP’s “raptors” are considerably larger than the real-life Velociraptor mongoliensis, due in part to Hollywood’s penchant for stretching the truth, but also to a nomenclatural misunderstanding.
There was a time when Deinonychus (Deinonychus antirrhopus), a large North American relative, was re-classified by some as a species of Velociraptor (Velociraptor antirrhopus), perhaps explaining why an otherwise Asiatic genus was found in Montana near the beginning of the first film. Furthermore, fragmentary remains of a large, then-unclassified “Velociraptor relative” (the 15-to-19-foot-long Achillobator) had been found in Mongolia just prior to Michael Crichton’s first book. So, in the late 1980’s, the idea of a 12-foot “Velociraptor” was not completely unfounded.
As we understand it today, Velociraptor was much less imposing. It was only about 6 feet long and less than 2 feet tall, it had a narrow, upward-curving skull, and it was probably covered in feathers. Yes, feathers.
The new reconstruction has been hard to swallow for many. So entrenched is the Jurassic Park “raptor” in popular culture, that to gain any traction, several experts have decided to rebrand Velociraptor not as a tiny, feathered dinosaur, but as a “giant freaking murder-crow.” [citation needed]