Saturday, March 21, 2009

Velociraptor sketch

Just a Velociraptor mongoliensis. I sketched this extemporaneously with no skeletal references, so please forgive innacuracies.


  1. This is pretty darn good for using no skeletal references!
    A lot like Greg Paul or Julius Csotonyi's work.

    And I really like how you kept the plumage short and fuzzy the way it SHOULD be. I see way too many paintings of Velociraptor puffed up with a huge mane of flight feathers. The poor critter would have overheated, and had no use for huge eagle-like feathers.

    I think that in their avian fervor to make up for the raptors' outdated reptilian image in Jurassic park, some artists went overboard and forgot the things couldn't fly!

  2. Thanks for the compliments! One thing to point out is that I drew this before the paper (I can't think of the authors right now) came out that identified quill nodes on Velociraptor forearms. Since that implies that V had flight feathers, we have to wonder whether it would have had body contour feathers. Probably not; flightless birds seem to have a covering of long, shaggy feathers. V seems to actually have been a secondarily flightless (non-avian) dinosaur. So it would maybe have had emu- or ostrich-like feathers?

    This drawing done by someone Japanese,, has been online since before the V flight feathers paper came out, but it predicted the flight feathers on the arms.

  3. Yes, it most likely was secondarily flightless. However, since small early dromaeosaurids like the likely airborne Microraptor are known from much earlier bone beds, I would assume that the remnants of flight feathers on the arms would be greatly reduced.

    I don't doubt the arms had some large feathers, but I do object to covering the whole thing with ostentatious amounts of neo-avian flight and contour feathers - like what John Conway did with Deinonychus. This thing wasn't a puffy feathered grouse. It was a vicious hunter which happened to have remnants of feathers from its flying ancestors. And aside from the feathers on the arms, I thinks most of the feathers on Velociraptor and Deinonychus were light and short.

    Ostriches and emus have very different feathers. Ostriches still retain "wings" and long quills like their flying ancestors, while emus have only shaggy soft feathers and greatly reduced vestigial wings which are practically invisible under that shaggy coat. Cassowaries take this even further, losing the wings and having feathers that almost look like fur. But all of these birds are herbivores or seed eaters.

    The way I see it, even these sorts of feathers would be too long for a hunter like Velociraptor. It needed insulation that would not get in the way when it lunged in for the kill (not that I buy the "vulture-neck" hypothesis!) but still, I'd only put the really long feathers on the arms and spine, if at all...