Friday, April 13, 2018

The Camptosaurus Challenge

Camptosaurus dispar skeletal by Scott Hartman
If any of you dear readers follow me on Twitter (@zmiller1902) or any of my blogger colleagues (there’s a handy list at the bottom of this post) you’ve probably seen at least a few entries in the hashtag Camptosaurus challenge. For the deets, check out David Orr’s two posts on this very topic and the deluge of paleoart that it inspired. You’ll see that I have two rather terrible entries—both were rush jobs—but I was determined to put something respectable together last night and I’m pretty happy with the result:

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Lesser-Known Running Lizards (minor update at the end)

by Jaime Headden, from Wikipedia
In the last post, I briefly mentioned a group of dromaeosaurs called unenlagiines. This is still a rather obscure group, especially to the general public, so I wanted to give these South American dromaeosaurs some much-deserved time in the spotlight.

This is a small group—only three (but possibly four or five) genera have been named. They are atypical dromaeosaurs for a number of reasons, foremost among them the elongate, narrow snout packed with minute teeth which lack serrations. While most appear to have been small, one of them was one of the largest dromaeosaurs, approaching Achillobater and Utahraptor in terms of overall size.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Nearly Birds

Adorable Serikornis sungei by Emily Willoughby
Something I really enjoy about paleontology is how quickly things can change. For example, when I was growing up, Dromaeosauridae was confined to half a dozen genera from two continents. If you wanted a complete list, you could check out Raptors: The Nastiest Dinosaurs from your local library. Now, though, Dromaeosauridae is more like Dromaeosauriformes because there are something like five distinct groups now: Halszkaraptorinae, Unenlaginae, Microraptorinae, Dromaeosaurinae and Velociraptorinae (those last two are usually stuck together in a monophyletic Eudromaeosauria). It used to be that dromaeosaurs came in two flavors: large and small. Now you’ve got swan-necked, duck-billed dromaeosaurs; piscivorous, leggy dromaeosaurs; tiny, potentially volant dromaeosaurs; and larger “classic” predatory dromaeosaurs.

All this has happened in the last twenty years. Heck, nobody knew about Halszkaraptor until a few weeks ago.