Peel Back the Layers


A while back I started a project in which I would reconstruct an ancient animal layer by layer, moving from various organ systems using some degrees of inference to make sure these organs are correctly aligned, and perhaps correctly sized. Based on work I was already doing, I chose an oviraptorosaur, and because it deserves more attention, the subject would be “Ingeniayanshini. Now, as I’ve said before, there are a few problems with what, precisely, is “Ingeniayanshini. It seems, though, that this is a long-legged, short-armed and giant-thumbed animal that would have resembled Nemegtomaia barsboldi, a crested oviraptorid; enough that common referral of ZPAL MgD-I/95 or “Ingeniayanshini (as with Greg Paul’s various paleo books) has fallen to the wayside, and Kundrát & Janáček (2007) referred it to Comchoraptor gracilis.

This reconstruction proceeded outward in, with the body, the plumage, and the skeleton, and then further inward with the organs. The pulmonary system was tricky, as it forms an intricate layering in itself. And this was all done in pen and ink. Behold:

Ingenia Reconstruction Spread sm

Fanti, Federico, Currie, Philip J. & Badamgarav Demchig. 2012. New specimens of Nemegtomaia from the Baruungoyot and Nemegt Formations (Late Cretaceous) of Mongolia. PLoS ONE 7 (2):e31330.
Kundrát, M. & Janáček, J. 2007. Cranial pneumatization and auditory perceptions of the oviraptorid dinosaur Conchoraptor gracilis (Theropoda, Maniraptora) from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia. Naturwissenschaften 94 (9): 769-778.
Lü J.-c., Tomida Y., Azuma Y., Dong Z.-m. & Lee Y.-N. 2004. New oviraptorid dinosaur (Dinosauria: Oviraptorosauria) from the Nemegt Formation of southwestern Mongolia. Bulletin of the National Science Museum of Tokyo, Series C 30: 95–130.
Paul, G. S. 1988. Predatory Dinosaurs of the World: A Complete Illustrated Guide. Simon & Shuster (New York City).

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13 Responses to Peel Back the Layers

  1. MCasti says:

    Impressive! Just a question: what is the muscle recostruction based on?

    • For the most part, birds, with a smattering of crocodilians, and an extension of inference drawn from ornithischian dinosaurs (especially in extending the abdominal musculature across the ventral pelvic bones). I am welcome to correct any errors this has. It is meant to correspond to the most superficial layer of muscle. I am currently working on deeper muscle layers, so it’s going to get a bit more detailed.

  2. TimW says:

    Nice. No, more than nice. Love it! Were the forelimbs capable of that degree of abduction (folding)?

    • Ingeniayanshini has a HUGE distal semilunate carpal (DC1+2, or DC1?), but the mobility of the rest of the limb might be fudged a bit to permit the avian-style posture. Nonetheless, I kept the forearm from laying against the humerus and thus less flexed as a concession to this uncertainty. No mechanical analysis was performed to achieve this result.

  3. TimW says:

    Thanks Jaime. What specimen(s) is the reconstruction based on?

    I also had no idea that the forelimbs of yanshini were so short! This makes me wonder if the massive semilunate carpal (‘swivel-wrist’) was there to simply to keep the hands out of the way.

    • This is mostly based on Nemegtomaia barsboldi, with the manus directly reconstructed after the holotype manus MPC-D 100/30. I am less certain in reconstruction of the pelvis, and of course the other limb bones are fairly generic.

  4. Casey says:

    I dig it. I have always been a fan of the old school clear plastic peel away anatomy books and models, or Tool album art (Lateralus), or even a few GSP art pieces like his Coelophysis. Here are a couple bits to fix if it matters:
    1. Nerves: The ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve is responsible for the premax, so that top nerve in the head should curve all the way down to the beak, rather than the maxillary division curving upwards around the nares. The maxillary nerve should ramify and terminate at the rostral portion of maxilla and maybe kick off a few ventral narial branches.
    2. Arteries. Its more likely that the maxillary artery gives rise to a large facial branch that climbs dorsally in front of the orbit and up near the dorsal portion of the frontonasal region. not a huge deal. More important though is back at the craniocephalic junction. The carotid artery should split into 2 major branches (rather than the central nexus you currently have): the internal carotid that feeds the brain medially, and the stapedial artery laterally. The stapedial is the major vessel that gives rise to the occipital branches (they recurve back towards the neck), maxillary and palatal vessels, skull roof/temporal region, the mandibular & lingual vessels, and branches in the ear. This is why, if I recall correctly, the maxillary is ultimately responsible for supplying much of the nasal region, but i’m a bit rusty up in the face.

    Cool stuff!

    • This is great, and thanks for the hints at fixing the head tissues, Casey. A better version will be produced once I clear up the deeper muscle arrangements I am working on now.

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