Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dinosaur Feathers: First North American Find

Its no secret that certain dinosaurs had feathers at this point.  This is largely due to the abundant fossils from places like China and a few from Europe that clearly show evidence of plumage on beautifully preserved theropod skeletons.  In 2008, however, the first ever dinosaurs from North America were discovered with actual feathers.

Fossil feathers from one of the Ornithomimus specimens at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Canada

 The dinosaur is not a newly discovered species, its called Ornithomimus and was a very close relative to Struthiomimus which has been talked about previously on this site.  Two adults and one juvenile were found, all three possessing evidence of plumage.  The younger animal has what appears to be fluffy down-type feathers like modern juvenile birds and the adults had quill knobs, like those found on Velociraptor skeletons, proving that it would have had large, wing-type feathers on its arms. Whats interesting is that veined, wing feathers are usually implications of flight, looking at modern birds.  Ornithomimus clearly wasn't much of a flyer, however.  It would have been too large and heavy.  This discovery suggests that perhaps these feathers were originally evolved for something like sexual display or brooding (also observable in modern birds) and later were adapted for flight in certain kinds of animals (not Ornithomimids).

It has been assumed for a while now that Ornithomimids (family of dinosaurs Ornithomimus belongs to) had feathers.  Its only logical to think this way since every other type of dinosaur surrounding them on the theropod family tree (Tyrannosauroids, Oviraptorids, Dromaeosaurids, Therizinosaurids, Compsognathids, birds...) has at least one specimen on the fossil record that clearly shows feathers in some form or another.  Ornithomimids were the only ones that didn't...until now.  The icing on the cake is that its in North America too!  On that note I also should mention this discovery also kills any misconceptions that some people may have had thinking only feathered dinosaurs came from places like China.  In reality feathered dinosaurs were all over the world, many of them already discovered in the form of skeletons and bones where the feathers didn't preserve like Deinonychus, for instance.  Fossilization is rare to begin with let alone preservation of soft tissue! 

Struthiomimus I painted earlier this year with incorrect featherless arms.

Luckily I was able to correct it!

Works Cited

 Hartman, Scott. "Skeletal Drawing: Ornithomimus Had an Adult." Skeletal Drawing: Ornithomimus Had an Adult. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2012. <>.

"Dinosaurs May Have Evolved Feathers for Courtship." NewScientist- Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2012. <>.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Shoprite Toy Section: The Good Stuff

So I was grocery shopping the other day and happened to pass the toy section.  The toy sections in grocery stores are small but usually contain a variety of different things.  A common theme for toys is, no surprise, dinosaurs.  Most little kids had a dinosaur phase (some of us don't grow out of it).  A puzzle designed for toddlers happened to catch my eye that day because it was of dinosaurs (shocker).  It had four typical cartoon-style dinosaurs, with bright colors and each dinosaur was labelled.  To my surprise they were actually correctly labelled! 

The Apatosaurus was called an Apatosaurus, not Brontosaurus!  The theropod I was almost sure would be labelled as Tyrannosaurus or worse, T-rex(gasp!) despite the three fingers but alas, it was labelled Allosaurus!  Even the pterosaur, which is is 99.9% of the time mislabeled as Pterodactyl (an actual genus of animal but not usually what people picture) on toys like this was actually referred to as a pterosaur!  The cartoon creature they have on the puzzle looks like its supposed to be Pteranodon, a kind of pterosaur, so they are safe.  Good job, grocery store discount toddler puzzle!  You have the Jersey Boy Hunts Dinosaurs stamp of approval! 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Pachy goes Pink

Earlier this week fellow Jersey Boy, Gary, called me up to share with me an idea he had for the blog.  He suggested I paint a pink dinosaur in honor of breast cancer awareness month (  I have seen other paleo-artists do this in the past and always liked their work so I was immediately on board with the idea.  Here she is, the pink, breast cancer awareness Pachycephalosaurus!

If you would like to donate to help fund breast cancer research (not just awareness, actual research for a cure.) you can do so right here.