The Stocky Dragon

There is much we still do not know about the ancient origins of birds and near-bird animals, dromaeosaurs and troodontids. As we find more specimens of archaeopterygid or scansoriopterygid-like animals, of Anchiornises and what not, the tree becomes more of a bush, chaotic, involuted, interesting.

The Maastrichtian of Romania reveals a series of islands in what is now eastern Europe, the last remnants of the epicontinental sea that covers Europe diminishing as Africa looms closer to the south, rotating upwards and lifting the Alps of southern Europe. These islands formed intriguing biotas, comprised of small herbivorous ankylosaurs, hadrosaurs, pro-iguanodonts, and sauropods; and large birds and pterosaurs. The largest predators of these islands were probably azhdarchid pterosaurs. But amongst them, the small cat-sized Balaur bondoc is also known.

Balaur bondoc skeleton as bird Continue reading

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The Best Little Oviraptorid in Mongolia – Preview

As I wrote waaaay back in February of 2012 (damn!), my previous versions of the skeleton of the oviraptorid known as Citipati sp., or GIN 100/42 (or, simply “100/42”) were improperly scaled, improperly drawn, etc. Lots of errors, little means of fixing without redoing. I started the work on it, but this languished for years. In prep for a larger discussion of this specimen, I re-prepared the skeletal diagram, and present this here now as a lead-in:

Citipati nsp 100-42 skeleton med

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

As with other skeletal illustrations I’ve produced, this illustration is released under a Creative Commons license. Please be kind.

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Herbivores All the Way Down

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, a revolution in the way dinosaurs were conceived to have evolved occurred, in which a basal stock of croc-ish animals (this was during the “thecodont origin of … everything (?)” phase of archosaur relationship hypotheses) developed into the dinosaurs we know today, basically divided into three groups:

Theropod dinosaurs, including potentially birds; sauropods and their kin, the “prosauropods”; and ornithischians. While the latter group were considered herbivorous almost exclusively, with some omnivorous basal forms (like “fabrosaurs”), and the first group was almost exclusively considered carnivorous with some omnivorous forms, the herbivory/carnivory aspects never crossed over. In Sauropodomorpha, the group containing sauropods and “prosauropods,” basal forms were considered mostly herbivores, with some carnivorous trends (some of it based on confused fossils of giant croc-like rauisuchids or postosuchids). But this meant that theropods were nested within a group that trended, at its base, towards herbivory.

All dinosaurs, then, would have had a little plant-eater in their near-ancestry. Continue reading

Posted in Art, Biological Comparison, Paleoecology, Paleontology, Reconstruction, Science Reporting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Strange Tid[w]ings

Yi qi conceptsThe new small theropod Yi qi was described 29 April, 2015, far too late to be a practical joke for All Fools’ Day (by 4 weeks, precisely). Why would it be? The animal, described by Xu Xing and a number of colleagues, is based on a single specimen of a mostly crappy slab. Continue reading

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Facial Expressions

Models for "cheeks" in Ornithischia.How many faces do I have?

The various and many ways to make a “cheek,” and the various facial tissues for which we have primary (preserved remains) and secondary (inferred) evidence for, in fossil sauropsidans. (These images are CC-BY-ND-NC. Please don’t take them without permission.)

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Posted in Art, Biological Comparison, Biology, Biomechanics, Paleobiology, Paleontology, Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments


Art is, perhaps, one of the most expensive things I’ve ever done. And yet the process from setting pen or pencil to paper and producing something coherent seems effortless, flawless, quick, and easy. We make it easy, because we’ve had years of training. Patient family, if exasperated, and careful teachers, studious research, and years upon years of not-so-easy toil, practicing, grinding, suffering to be able to draw out leviathan from the page — all this goes into producing something so simple as a line drawing Continue reading

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A Question of Money

As time goes on, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep progress on the website and handle my own day to day, so the blogging has diminished and even time to research and start work on the process of education and material access — which leads into research and oddly money — fades. To that end I am looking at two forms of outreach and resource gathering:

My skimmer skull in skimming style, from the Redbubble capture of how it looks on a shirt.

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