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Jul 26, 2014 / 4 notes

dinopediajurassica said: I follow you on deviantART big fand by the way! What inspires you to create such detailed dinosaur creations?

Thanks for following me :) It’s something I’ve been doing for quite literally two decades now, so it’s sort of hard to recall what first inspired me (although the consistency and standardization of Greg Paul’s Predatory Dinosaurs of the World was certainly a major influence). I think initially it was the idea that if you put in the time and effort you could get much closer to what extinct animals looked like. I still enjoy that aspect, but these days I’m more driven by trying to push skeletal reconstructions to be more of a science, and how doing so may open up new fields of inquiry. 

The actual process of making a skeletal reconstruction isn’t really all that “fun”. But just like people that put in the time to learn to play a guitar solo or throw a football at a high level the time and effort prove worth it to me when I get results that justify the time and effort.

Jul 26, 2014 / 12 notes

Anonymous said: How do you feel about the idea that Dracorex, Stygimoloch, and Pachycephalosaurus are the same species at different ages?

The evidence seems to be on the side of them being a single species at different developmental stages. I’ve seen Dracorex specimens with a tiny dome starting to grow, so…

It’s too bad, as I love the names Stygimoloch and Dracorex.

Jul 25, 2014 / 3 notes

Anonymous said: When will the paper description of Utahraptor be released?

Hard to say - it could end up waiting until Jim Kirkland’s new jacket-o-Utahraptors is prepped, in which it could be years. Or it could end up slipping out sooner with what is already known. I’m not an author on the paper, I just did the skeletal, so I don’t have that much insight into the timeline I’m afraid.

Jul 24, 2014 / 379 notes
Jul 24, 2014 / 21 notes

Anonymous said: Hello Scott! I have two questions: a) is there any reason to think that feathers and pycnofibers are homologous? b) where would you push the origin of feathers at this point?

Sure, there’s reason to suspect they could share some developmental homology, although this ultimately rests on whether or not the quills found in ornithischians are homologous to coelurosaur “dinofuzz” and ultimately maniraptoran feathers. If so, and assuming pterosaurs and dinosaurs share a close ancestry (the most common inference, but not one without detractors) then some sort of elaborate epidermal structure could potentially be the ancestral condition of both pycnofibers and feathers.

True feathers (epidermal structures with a rachis and barbs) are not currently known outside of coelurosaurs - they weren’t known outside of maniraptora, but the recent description of what may be true feather impressions in an adult ornithomimid would push it towards the base of coelurosaurs. That’s as far as you can go with current evidence, though dinofuzz almost certainly goes deeper. How deep? We really don’t see it outside of coelurosaurs either, though as mentioned above some sort of prickly quill-like structure may be basal to all dinosaurs or even all avemetatarsalians.

Jul 22, 2014 / 22 notes
Jun 14, 2014 / 24 notes

Anonymous said: I have a question about the Bird-Dinosaur link. How is it decided where birds begin? What are the traits that make Archeopteryx a bird but not Microraptor or Anchiornis?

Most names are now pinned to groups rather than traits (e.g. if you are the most recent common ancestor of Iguanodon and Megalosaurus or any of its descendants you are a dinosaur) and the traits that are unique to the group are inferred once you know who is related to whom.

That said, there is little agreement about where Aves (the proper name for “birds”) should go - some people think Archaeopteryx should by definition be a bird, while others (including me) think it should be restricted to the avian crown-clade, in which case Archaeopteryx wouldn’t be a bird either (and neither would enantiornithines or even Ichthyornis).

But the important thing isn’t so much where we decide to pin the name, but rather the pattern of relationships, and most phylogenetic analyses find Archaeopteryx closer to living birds than Anchiornis and Microraptor, although not all (especially Anchiornis).

prehistoric-birds:

Silhouette of the new Utahraptor, courtesy of Scott Hartman and Phylopic! 

You guys are fast!
Mar 22, 2014 / 221 notes

prehistoric-birds:

Silhouette of the new Utahraptor, courtesy of Scott Hartman and Phylopic

You guys are fast!

The newly described “hell-chicken” Anzu, keeping its toothless beak closed up tight.
Mar 20, 2014 / 449 notes

The newly described “hell-chicken” Anzu, keeping its toothless beak closed up tight.

Another close-mouthed skeletal: The primitive theropod Tawa hallae, being seen rather than heard.
Mar 17, 2014 / 129 notes

Another close-mouthed skeletal: The primitive theropod Tawa hallae, being seen rather than heard.