paleontological illustration

Bathornis grallator, a flightless bird about 75cm tall (2′6″) from the Late Eocene and Early Oligocene of Midwestern USA (~37-34 mya).

It was originally mistaken for a long-legged vulture (under the name Neocathartes) when first discovered in the 1940s, but later studies have shown it was actually one of the smaller members of the bathornithids – close cousins of the more well-known South American “terror birds”, successfully occupying terrestrial predator niches alongside large carnivorous mammals.

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Mise en place des premiers panneaux dans les Galeries de Paléontologie, le reste (environ 25 panneaux) suivra dans les semaines à venir! Un grand merci aux scientifiques et aux rédacteurs des textes qui permettent d'apporter, en plus des illustrations, un regard neuf sur ces spécimens de plusieurs millions d'années.

Daeodon, from the late Oligocene and early Miocene of North America (~29-19 mya). About 1.8m tall at the shoulders (6′), it was one of the last and largest of the entelodonts, a group of omnivorous even-toed ungulates with long bone-crushing jaws.

Although often called “hell pigs” or “terminator pigs”, entelodonts weren’t actually pigs at all – instead they were much more closely related to hippos, whales, and Andrewsarchus.

Teraterpeton, an unusual archosauromorph from the Late Triassic of Nova Scotia, Canada (~235-221 mya). Probably around 1m long (3′3″), it was a member of the trilophosaurs, a group of lizard-like archosauromorphs with toothless beaks at the front of their jaws and chisel-like cheek teeth at the back.

It had a very long, thin, rather bird-like snout, with a huge nasal opening, and a euryapsid-type skull with the lower temporal fenestra closed off – a condition seen in some marine reptiles like ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, but unique among all its close relatives.

Its forelimbs also had deep narrow blade-like claws, and the rest of its body is only known from fragmentary remains. It was clearly adapted for some sort of highly specialized niche in its ecosystem, but we just don’t yet know what that niche actually was.

Maybe one day we’ll find more complete fossils of this odd animal and get some answers… or even more surprises.

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Finished the editorial illustration on the possibility that dinosaurs might, or I should say more likely sounded like birds such as pigeons. And in turn cooed like them too. This one was originally going to be a still piece with just text but I decided it might be better to animate it instead.

Mary Anning: English Paleontologist 1799-1847.

Mary Anning was born to a poor family that was shunned due to religious discrimination. To make some extra money the family began collecting fossils by the sea and selling them. Mary took over the family business after her father died and made many important fossil finds in the county of Dorset, but as a woman was kept out of the Geographical Society of London and often did not receive credit for her finds.

My favorite part of researching for this illustration was finding that local parlance referred to vertebrae as “verteberries”