It’s been a bit too hot for me to get on with sewing these past few days, but I’ve been working on some less taxing projects.

Here’s the final design for my dinosaur packing tape. It will be printed in solid black onto 50mm wide vinyl and the repeat is 403mm long. The dinosaurs pictured are all species from the British isles and roughly to scale. 1cm = 1m.

This is where I plug the book Dinosaurs of the British Isles, which should be the first stop for anyone interested in British dinosaurs.

I originally planned to throw in some ichthyosaurs, pterosaurs and a pliosaur but I ran out of room and decided to keep it dinosaurs-only. If this one is a hit maybe I’ll do a marine reptiles tape next!

Request (sorta) by karamundy: something picturing non-dinosaurs that are often wrongly considered dinosaurs.

There’s probably other stuff I could’ve put in, but that’s basically everything I could think of.

Fun fact: this chart also doubles as a chart depicting what I can and cannot draw well.

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A step-by-step of making a desperate little pterosaur gallop. I love the idea that these animals were somewhat useful while on the ground, and while they may not have ran entirely like this, I think it’s cute. I haven’t done any drawn animation in a while, so it was nice to get back into it.

You can see a better quality final gif on twitter

Sorry for GIF quality.

[Image: A flock of Hatzegopteryx. One paces along on all fours, another rockets into flight by pushing off with its strong forelimbs, and the rest soar above them.]

Pterosaur Myths Busted (V3)

Pterosaurs are a staple of movies featuring prehistoric animals–yet most media depictions of the poor beasts remain woefully stuck in the 19th century. Real pterosaurs were just about nothing like the sluggish, flimsy-winged gliders that populated our childhood picture books and movies. Here we take a look at how some common misconceptions about them stack up against the facts. 

Misconception: “Pterodactyl” and “pterosaur” mean the same thing.

Fact: “Pterosaur” applies to the entire group, but “pterodactyl” is only correct when you’re referring to, well, pterodactyloids.

In general, pterodactyls had proportionally shorter tails, longer necks, bigger heads, and longer hand bones than non-pterodactyls. Compare these skeletal drawings of Rhamphorhynchus (a non-pterodactyl) and Pteranodon (the ’dactyl of Jurassic Park fame).

M: Pterosaurs were dinosaurs.

F: Dinosaurs fall under the orders Ornithischia and Saurischia. Pterosaurs do not belong to either group, though current evidence places them as close relatives of the dinosaurs within Ornithodira

M: Pterosaurs were the ancestors of birds.

F: Like their cousins Velociraptor and T. rex, birds are a type of theropod dinosaur. Pterosaurs left no living descendants.

M: Pterosaurs had scaly / leathery / bald skin.

F: Though the pads of their feet were scaly, most of a pterosaur’s body was covered in hairlike filaments called pycnofibers. Pterosaurs of the primitive family Anurognathidae, such as the one shown below, seem to have been fluffed up from snout to tail with pycnofibers.

M: Pterosaurs were “cold-blooded.”

F: Nope. With no body heat to insulate there wouldn’t be much point to pycnofibers.

M: Pterosaurs could pick things up with their feet.

F: Their feet were much better suited to walking than grasping. Like humans, they had plantigrade feet–in other words, the entire sole of the foot contacted the ground as they walked.

M: Grounded pterosaurs walked on their hind legs / could only crawl around on their bellies.

F: Pterosaurs usually walked on all fours, and many were quite adept at ground locomotion to boot, especially the pterodactyls. Some, such as the dsungaripteroids, may even have been capable of galloping. The three in the illustration below are shown badgering an azhdarchid for its kill.

M: All pterosaurs had teeth / were toothless.

F: Pterosaurs had all kinds of dental arrangements, from completely toothless to jaws positively bristling with the things—just look at Pterodaustro below. (Pteranodon was toothless, by the way; its name even means “toothless wing.”)

 

M: Females of crested species had large head crests like the males.

F: Head crests were probably sexually dimorphic, with males usually having much larger, more elaborate head decoration, as demonstrated by these two Darwinopterus

M: Pterosaur wing membranes were leathery, flimsy and prone to tearing.

F: Pterosaur wings were supple, complex, multilayered structures. They were reinforced with closely-packed fibers called aktinofibrils. 

M: Each wing was supported by several fingers like a bat’s.

F: Only the hugely elongated fourth finger supported the wing; the other three fingers were much smaller. See here for a diagram of the pterosaur wing. 

M: Pterosaurs had sharply-pointed wing tips.

F: Such a wing shape would have made flight difficult. Here’s our anurognathid friend again, showing off its nice rounded wing tips for you.

 

M: Some pterosaurs were too big / heavy to fly.

F: Even the largest pterosaurs were probably capable of powered flight. 

M: Pterosaurs could only take off by falling from a cliff / tree / [insert high starting point here].

F: They could launch into flight under their own power using all four limbs, a strategy also known in some modern bats. This is called “quadrupedal launch” (or just “quad launch”). See this video for a pterosaur quad launch demonstration.

M: All pterosaurs were ocean-going fish hunters.

F: They occupied a variety of niches, and many lived inland.

M: Pterosaurs cared for their hatchlings in much the same way as modern birds.

F: Other than protecting them during the hatching process, pterosaur parents might not have had much to do with their offspring (called “flaplings”) since they could probably fly almost immediately after birth.

Recent findings reveal that at least some pterosaurs, such as Hamipterus, were social and may have built their nests together in huge colonies.

M: Pterosaurs went extinct because they were outcompeted by birds.

F: The evidence for this idea is weak at best.

M: Live pterosaur sightings prove that pterosaurs never really went extinct. 

F: This idea relies on scant evidence as well. 

———-

If you have anything more than a passing interest in pterosaurs, you really should pick up a copy of paleontologist Mark Witton’s book on themPterosaur.net is another useful resource of information about these fascinating, ridiculous creatures.

Sources to avoid include David Peters’ Pterosaur Heresies and ReptileEvolution.com. While these sites seem professional on the surface and feature loads of attractive artwork, scientists have been unable to replicate the results of Peters’ research, and repeatable results are a hallmark of good science. Read more about Peters here (PDF), here and here

(Credit: Skeletal drawings by Scott Hartman; all other illustrations by Mark Witton.) ( #long post )

Most of the time evolution just hangs out being all, “Bug. More bug. Shinier bug. Slightly bigger AND shinier bug. Too many legs bug? Yessss.”

But other times evolution just goes completely off its rocker and is like “guys GUYS LOOK AT THIS CLADE I JUST INVENTED”

“IT’S GOT THIS FLAPPY POINTY THING”

“AND THIS CHOMPY PIECE OF SPAGHETTI”

“SOME KIND OF GLIDEY THING”

SO FIT FOR THEIR ENVIRONMENTS AMIRITE WOW”

A restored skeleton of Quetzalcoatlus a massive Pterosaur and the largest known flying animal.  It’s total wingspan is estimated to reach up to 40 feet.  Quetzalcoatlus had an unusually long neck, and when it stood on the ground it was as tall as a giraffe.  

It’s fossils have been found in Texas (yes everything is bigger in Texas)  During the Upper Cretaceous period (65-70 million years ago) this area was covered by the Western Interior Seaway.

Be sure to follow the Fossil Porn Tumblr blog for more amazing fossil photos and news stories.

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There’s a kids’ anime about soccer that has a surprisingly decent Quetzalcoatlus character.

He’s called Tochan (meaning “Dad,” as he’s a human character’s adoptive parent) and… well, look at him! Plantigrade feet, stands on all fours, not a bat wing in sight. He even has visible pteroid bones with propatagia. (The pteroid is the little knob that sticks out partway down each arm, and the propatagium is the flight membrane attached to the pteroid.) ‘Course, I have no idea how this thing is able to play soccer, but that’s beside the point.

Ain’t he cute?

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Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy by Mark P. Witton

For 150 million years, the skies didn’t belong to birds–they belonged to the pterosaurs. These flying reptiles, which include the pterodactyls, shared the world with the nonavian dinosaurs until their extinction 65 million years ago. Some pterosaurs, such as the giant azhdarchids, were the largest flying animals of all time, with wingspans exceeding thirty feet and standing heights comparable to modern giraffes. This richly illustrated book takes an unprecedented look at these astonishing creatures, presenting the latest findings on their anatomy, ecology, and extinction.

Pterosaurs features some 200 stunning illustrations, including original paintings by Mark Witton and photos of rarely seen fossils. After decades of mystery, paleontologists have finally begun to understand how pterosaurs are related to other reptiles, how they functioned as living animals, and, despite dwarfing all other flying animals, how they managed to become airborne. Here you can explore the fossil evidence of pterosaur behavior and ecology, learn about the skeletal and soft-tissue anatomy of pterosaurs, and consider the newest theories about their cryptic origins. This one-of-a-kind book covers the discovery history, paleobiogeography, anatomy, and behaviors of more than 130 species of pterosaur, and also discusses their demise at the end of the Mesozoic.

  • The most comprehensive book on pterosaurs ever published
  • Features some 200 illustrations, including original paintings by the author
  • Covers every known species and major group of pterosaurs
  • Describes pterosaur anatomy, ecology, behaviors, diversity, and more
  • Encourages further study with 500 references to primary pterosaur literature

Mark P. Witton is a paleontologist in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Portsmouth. He has served as a technical consultant for Walking with Dinosaurs 3D and many other film and television productions. His illustrations of pterosaurs, dinosaurs, and other prehistoric creatures have appeared in numerous publications, including Science and newspapers around the world.

http://markwitton-com.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/pterosaurs-natural-history-evolution.html

An Anhanguera Pterosaur (pterodactyl) skeleton at the North American Museum of Ancient Life.  The Anhanguera lived during the Upper Cretaceous period and had a wing span of up to 15 feet.  It’s fossils have primarily been found in the Santana Formation of Brazil.

Be sure to follow the Fossil Porn Tumblr blog for more amazing fossil photos and news stories.