All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
/Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings

Drawings of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals either done by team members or sent into Everything Dinosaur.

12 11, 2018

A Colourful Compsognathus

By | November 12th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Colourful Compsognathus

A fan of Everything Dinosaur very kindly sent into us a beautiful illustration of the small, Jurassic Theropod Compsognathus.  Our thanks to Maurizio from Italy for producing such a fantastic piece of artwork and sharing it with us.

A Very Colourful Compsognathus

Compsognathus illustrated.

A beautiful illustration of the Late Jurassic Theropod dinosaur Compsognathus.

Picture Credit: Maurizio

An Elegant Illustration of “Elegant Jaw”

The fast-running Compsognathus was about the size of a small goose and for a time it was regarded as the smallest dinosaur known to science.  The scientific name for this European dinosaur is Compsognathus longipes, the genus name comes from the Latin for “elegant jaw”, a reference to the delicate, slender jaws of this little predator, which probably fed on insects and small vertebrates.

Commenting on the drawing, illustrator Maurizio said:

“I just wanted to send  you [Everything Dinosaur] this illustration.  The illustration features a Compsognathus inspired by the ones seen in “Jurassic Park” and the “Lost World” movies.  My Compsognathus is hiding inside some prehistoric plants.”

Maurizio Has Skilfully Drawn the “Elegant Jaw” of Compsognathus

A close-up view of the elegant jaw of Compsognathus.

A close-up view of the head of the Compsognathus longipes that had been drawn by Everything Dinosaur fan Maurizio.

Picture Credit: Maurizio

Always Happy to Receive Prehistoric Animal Drawings

A spokesperson from the UK-based dinosaur company stated that team members were always happy to receive prehistoric animal drawings from fans of dinosaurs and this person went onto state:

“We get sent a lot of illustrations and examples of prehistoric animal themed artwork and we are always happy to post up the pictures onto the walls of our office or within the company warehouse.  These drawings make a very attractive display.”

Our thanks once again to Maurizio for taking the time and the trouble to send into Everything Dinosaur an example of his artwork.

7 11, 2018

Preparing for Prestosuchus

By | November 7th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Maintenance on Website, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Preparing for Prestosuchus

Everything Dinosaur team members are preparing for the arrival of some of the new for 2019 Wild Safari Prehistoric World models including the Prestosuchus replica.  The beautiful Prestosuchus figure is just one of a number of new Wild Safari Prehistoric World figures that Everything Dinosaur hopes to stock before Christmas.

Coming Soon – The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Prestosuchus Model

Prestosuchus model.

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Prestosuchus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Formidable Predator of the Middle Triassic of Brazil

Prestosuchus (P. chiniquensis) was not a dinosaur, but a member of the Archosauria, just like the dinosaurs, but from a lineage that is more closely related to modern crocodilians than to living birds and extinct dinosaurs.  Fossils of this large predator have been found in south-eastern Brazil from strata that date from the Middle Triassic.  Prestosuchus was named by the German palaeontologist Friedrich von Huene in 1942, the genus name honours Brazilian self-taught palaeontologist Vicentino Prestes de Almeida and the trivial name honours the town where Vicentino Prestes de Almeida was born (Chiniquá, Rio Grande do Sul).

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Prestosuchus Model

New for 2019 the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Prestosuchus.

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Prestosuchus model.   A close-up view of the new for 2019 P. chiniquensis model from Safari Ltd.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Producing a Scale Drawing

It had been thought that this animal measured around 5 metres in length, about the size of a Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus), however, a specimen described in 2010 indicated that this quadruped may have reached lengths of around 7 metres and it might have weighed 1,000 kilograms or more.  Everything Dinosaur team members have had to examine a number of scientific papers in order to produce a scale drawing for use in their Prestosuchus fact sheet.  This fact sheet will be sent out with purchases of the Prestosuchus model.

Everything Dinosaur Prepares a Fact Sheet for the Arrival of the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Prestosuchus Model

Prestosuchus chiniquensis scale drawing.

A scale drawing of Prestosuchus chiniquensis.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To read an article from Everything Dinosaur published in 2010 that describes the discovery of this new, larger fossil specimen of Prestosuchus chiniquensisThe Most Complete Fossil of a Crocodylotarsian found in Brazil

6 11, 2018

Red Plates on a Stegosaurus

By | November 6th, 2018|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Red Plates on a Stegosaurus

This morning, we feature a superb illustration of the Late Jurassic armoured dinosaur Stegosaurus by the renowned palaeoartist from China, Zhao Chuang.  Enormous diamond-shaped plates were located on the neck, back and tail of Stegosaurus.   These plates were not just made of bone, they also had a horny, keratin covering.  This covering has not been preserved in the known fossil record so palaeontologists don’t know how big the plates were or indeed, what shape they were in life.

A Life Reconstruction of the Armoured Dinosaur Stegosaurus

A life reconstruction of the armoured dinosaur Stegosaurus.

Stegosaurus illustration by Zhao Chuang.

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang

What Colour were the Plates on Stegosaurus?

When first described by the American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh in 1877, the bizarre plates of Stegosaurus were thought to provide protection against attack.  They were regarded as armour, however, it was soon noted that although their exact position in life was difficult to determine (the plates are embedded in the skin and not attached to the bone), it was likely that these structures were too high on the back to be effective armour-plating for this plant-eating dinosaur.  As palaeontologists employed more sophisticated techniques to study these plates, it was revealed that they were quite thin with lots of blood vessels running through them.  The theory that these plates played a role in thermoregulation was postulated.  On cold mornings a Stegosaurus could face towards the sunrise and warm its plates.  The blood running through the vessels close to the surface of the plates would then be warmed up, helping the dinosaur to raise its body temperature.  Furthermore, in order to cool down, the Stegosaurus could face the sun in such a way that only a small surface area of the plates was exposed, thus permitting the body to cool down.  As the largest plates were high on the animal’s back, their position several metres in the air, would permit cooler air away from the ground surface to circulate around them, thus cooling the dinosaur still further.

It was the scientist Kenneth Carpenter who first proposed that the plates could be flushed with blood at will and this led to the idea that these adornments could be used to display or to intimidate predatory dinosaurs.  As a result, numerous Stegosaurus illustrations and indeed models, have tended to give Stegosaurus some reddish colour plates.

A Model of a Stegosaurus (Bullyland Stegosaurus) with Red Coloured Plates

Bullyland Stegosaurus dinosaur model.

The Bullyland Stegosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

As for the colour of Stegosaurus plates, when they were not being flushed with blood, nobody knows.

31 10, 2018

Happy Halloween

By | October 31st, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Happy Halloween

The “witching hour” is almost upon us, time to wish all our customers and readers a happy Halloween.  “All Hallows Eve” is a time traditionally linked with monsters and demons and the fossil record is crammed full of very scary looking invertebrates and vertebrate specimens that would have been very much at home in the cast of a horror movie.

Take for example, a demonic dinosaur…

In April 2011, a scientific paper was published announcing the formal scientific description of a demonic-looking dinosaur.  A fearsome, little meat-eater that would have terrorised New Mexico in the Late Triassic.  The dinosaur was named Daemonosaurus chauliodus and the name translates as “buck-toothed evil spirit”.

Although small compared to some of its later descendants, (D. chauliodus measured less than two metres long), it had a deep skull and oversized teeth in the front of its jaws which gave this little Theropod a strong and nasty bite.

A Life Reconstruction of Daemonosaurus chauliodus

Daemonosaurus chauliodus life reconstruction.

The vicious-looking Late Triassic Theropod dinosaur Daemonosaurus chauliodus from New Mexico.

Picture Credit: Jeffrey Martz

Happy Halloween!

20 10, 2018

Deinonychus Artwork

By | October 20th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Deinonychus Artwork

The bird-like qualities of the large dromaeosaurid Deinonychus (D. antirrhopus) have been captured in this superb dinosaur-themed artwork by the Chinese palaeoartist Zhao Chuang.  This is one of our favourite illustrations of this enigmatic, fast-running Theropod, finally named and described in 1969.

An Illustration of the Large North American Dromaeosaurid Deinonychus antirrhopus

An illustration of a flock of Deinonychus.

“They are flocking this way!” A flock of dromaeosaurid dinosaurs (Deinonychus) on the move.  Artwork by Zhao Chuang.

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang

A Modern Interpretation with a Retrospective Look

This beautifully-crafted image was created quite recently (2016, we think), but the choice of colours and the muted tones of the backdrop give this image quite a retrospective look.  It is reminiscent of the prehistoric animal illustrations that featured in the Brooke Bond Picture Cards series “Prehistoric Animals”, that was first published in the early 1970’s, ironically, just a few years after Deinonychus (which features in the card set), was named and described).

The artist has taken great care to depict this three-metre-long predator as an active, agile animal just as the palaeontologist John Ostrom envisioned it in his ground-breaking work that led to a complete re-think about the Dinosauria.  This revolution in thinking about the dinosaurs and their close relatives was termed the “dinosaur renaissance”.  The idea that these were slow-moving, clumsy, stupid animals was swept away and there was a definitive move towards portraying dinosaurs as animals that were as well adapted to their environments as modern mammals.

Zhao Chuang shows Deinonychus as a social animal, moving in a flock and at speed too.  The killing second-toe claw is raised off the ground as this dinosaur moves and it possesses a shaggy integumentary covering of simple feathers on its body as well as pennaceous feathers on its arms.  The yellow eye with its slit pupil gives this dinosaur a particularly frightening look.  A flock of Deinonychus heading your way would have been a terrifying sight.

It is a pleasure for Everything Dinosaur to  highlight the artwork of Chinese palaeoartist Zhao Chuang.  Today, we feature one of our favourite illustrations of Deinonychus.

7 09, 2018

Chinese Dinosaur Art – Spinosaurus

By | September 7th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|2 Comments

Spinosaurus aegyptiacus Illustrated by Zhao Chuang

As we approach the fourth anniversary of the ground-breaking work on Spinosaurus aegyptiacus published in September 2014 by Ibrahim et al, which depicted this North African Theropod as a quadruped, very much at home in aquatic environments, we thought we would feature an illustration of Spinosaurus by Zhao Chuang.

An Illustration of the Dinosaur Spinosaurus aegyptiacus

Spinosaurus illustrated as a quadruped.

An illustration of the Cretaceous Theropod from North Africa – Spinosaurus aegyptiacus.

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang

The Artwork of Zhao Chuang

Zhao Chuang is a scientific illustrator and palaeo-artist who has been responsible for providing the artwork to accompany numerous dinosaur and pterosaur fossil discoveries.  His work has been published in leading academic journals such as “Nature” and “Science and Cell”.  He has collaborated with several museums and research institutions including the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chicago University and the American Museum of Natural History, based in New York.  Visitors to the amazing exhibition “Dinosaurs of China – ground shakers to feathered flyers”, held last year at Wollaton Hall and the Lakeside Arts Centre (Nottingham, England), will have viewed a number of his works, as the prehistoric life illustrations of Zhao Chuang formed many or the backdrops and information panels to the fossils on display.

The front portion of the Spinosaurus as depicted by Zhao Chuang is a spectacular piece of art.  It is always a pleasure to feature the illustrations of palaeo-artists on this blog.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s 2014 article summarising the work undertaken to redefine Spinosaurus by Ibrahim et al: Spinosaurus – Four Legs Are Better Than Two

10 08, 2018

The Really Dangerous Predator of Hell Creek

By | August 10th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|1 Comment

Acheroraptor temertyorum – Most Dangerous Critter of Hell Creek

If you could travel back in time and visit western North America 66 million years ago, you might find yourself within the territory of a Tyrannosaurus rex.  Not a very safe place to be you might think, you would probably be right, but the Hell Creek fauna contained another Theropod dinosaur, one that was perhaps, more dangerous to a human visitor than a T. rex or for that matter the other apex predator known from the Hell Creek Formation – Dakotaraptor steini.

Named and scientifically described in 2013, the real man-eater of Hell Creek might have been Acheroraptor (A. temertyorum), at around three metres long and weighing as much as a German Shepherd dog, a pack of these ferocious hunters would probably have made short work of any human visitor to the Late Cretaceous who was unfortunate to encounter them.

A Scale Drawing of the Velociraptorine Dromaeosaurid Acheroraptor temertyorum

Acheroraptor temertyorum scale drawing.

A scale drawing of Acheroraptor.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

“Underworld Plunderer”

Named after the River of Pain “Acheron” in the underworld from Greek myth, Acheroraptor was one of the very last of the non-avian Theropod dinosaurs and it probably played a secondary predator role in the Hell Creek ecosystem.  There were larger predators, the five-and-a-half-metre-long Dakotaraptor for example, that like Acheroraptor was one of the very last dromaeosaurids to evolve.  However, packs of Dakotaraptors and the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex may not have considered a single person much of meal and may not have expanded a lot of energy in trying to catch them.  To a pack of Acheroraptors, a human would have made a very satisfactory lunch, best to avoid Acheroraptor if you can.

To read more about the discovery of Dakotaraptor steiniDakotaraptor – A Giant Raptor

Some of the Typical Dinosaurian Fauna of the Hell Creek Formation (Maastrichtian Faunal Stage of the Late Cretaceous)

Dinosaurs of the Hell Creek Formation.

Typical dinosaurs of the Hell Creek Formation.   Although there were larger predators, to a person visiting Montana 66 million years ago, meeting a pack of Acheroraptors would have been extremely dangerous.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Part of the Vertebrate Fossil Collection at the Royal Ontario Museum

The specific or trivial name “temertyorum” was selected to honour James and Louise Temerty in recognition for their outstanding support and contribution to the Royal Ontario Museum, which houses the jaw fragments that led to the scientific description of this dinosaur back in 2013.  Acheroraptor probably lived in packs and may have had a role similar to extant hyenas or jackals in present-day ecosystems.  Palaeontologists had suspected that dromaeosaurids roamed Montana in very last years of the Cretaceous, numerous teeth with their diagnostic wide ridges (denticles) had been discovered, but the lack of fossilised bones prevented scientists from assigning a genus.

The Holotype Fossil Maxilla and Lower Jaw (Dentary) of Acheroraptor

The fossilised jawbones of Acheroraptor.

The jaws of Acheroraptor.

Picture Credit: Royal Ontario Museum

Acheroraptor More Closely Related to Asian Dromaeosaurids

Palaeontologists have concluded that Acheroraptor was more closely related to Asian dromaeosaurids such as Velociraptor (V. mongoliensis), than it was to other North American dromaeosaurids.  Assigned to the Velociraptorinae subfamily of the Dromaeosauridae, the relatively long-snouted Acheroraptor provides supporting evidence to suggest the presence of a Late Cretaceous land bridge between Asia and North America.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained:

“There is a considerable amount of evidence that supports the idea of the existence of a Cretaceous Beringian land bridge linking North America and Asia.  This land bridge may not have been permanent but appeared at times when sea levels fell, permitting a faunal exchange between dinosaur-based ecosystems.  The ancestors of Acheroraptor temertyorum probably migrated into North America.”

To read Everything Dinosaur’s recent article about Alaskan trace fossils providing evidence of a mixing of dinosaur faunas from Asia and North America: Did Alaskan Therizinosaurs and Hadrosaurs Live Together?

Beasts of the Mesozoic 1/6th Scale Acheroraptor temertyorum

There are lots of models of the Hell Creek Formation biota available, countless T. rex and Triceratops figures for instance, but it was the clever and talented David Silva of Creative Beast Studio who created a 1/6th scale replica of Acheroraptor within the amazing “Beasts of the Mesozoic” model range.

The “Beasts of the Mesozoic” Acheroraptor temertyorum Figure

Beasts of the Mesozoic Acheroraptor temertyorum figure.

The Beasts of the Mesozoic Acheroraptor model.

To view the beautiful Acheroraptor model and the rest of the figures in the “Beasts of the Mesozoic Raptor” range: Beasts of the Mesozoic “Raptors”

28 06, 2018

Deinonychus – Dinosaur Renaissance

By | June 28th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Deinonychus – Dinosaur Renaissance

Everything Dinosaur team members have just updated their Deinonychus (D. antirrhopus) fact sheet.  From time to time, all our fact sheets get reviewed, revised and updated.  The dromaeosaurid Deinonychus has a special place in vertebrate palaeontology, as it was following the publication of a scientific paper by the American palaeontologist John Ostrom in 1969, that the Dinosauria began to be depicted as animals as active as living birds and mammals.  Prior to Ostrom’s seminal paper “Osteology of Deinonychus antirrhopus, an Unusual Theropod from the Lower Cretaceous of Montana” in July 1969, dinosaurs were still largely depicted as slow-witted, slow-moving, cold-blooded reptiles.

The Illustration of Deinonychus from the 1969 Scientific Paper

The Dinosaur Renaissance - Deinonychus

The original “Dinosaur Renaissance” inspired by Bakker (Deinonychus).

Picture Credit: Robert T. Bakker (1969)

Ostrom along with his student Robert T. Bakker helped to usher in a “Dinosaur Renaissance”, that dinosaurs were potentially endothermic and the body plan of Deinonychus could only represent an extremely active, agile hunter.  Writing in the bulletin (Bulletin 30 – July 1969) of the Peabody Museum of Natural History (Yale University), Ostrom explained:

“A detailed description is presented of the skeletal anatomy and adaptations of Deinonychus antirrhopus (Ostrom 1969), a very unusual carnivorous dinosaur (Order Saurischia, Suborder Theropoda) from the Cloverly Formation (Early Cretaceous) of Montana.  The species is characterised by a number of features that indicate an extremely active and agile animal, fleet of foot and highly predaceous in its habits.”

In this very detailed monograph (it runs to something like 160 pages), Ostrom even described the likely “habits of Deinonychus”.  Ostrom compared the vertebrae to those of living flightless birds such as Moas (Ratites),  he concluded that the backbones were held horizontal to the ground and not in the inclined attitude (the kangaroo stance), usually depicted for Theropods.  Comments were made about the potential speed of this dinosaur, it was stated that Deinonychus was likely to be a fast runner, but the absence of a femur restricted Ostrom from making specific claims as to the velocity of this obligatory biped.  Ostrom did state that the elongated foot bones were reminiscent to those found in deer, the cheetah and in fast-running ground dwelling birds.

Ostrom wrote:

“Regarding locomotion, the hind limbs of Deinonychus appear to have been powerful limbs for moderately, but not unusually fast running.”

This description gave plenty of scope to movie makers when it came to depicting “raptors”, in films such as “Jurassic Park” that were to inspire and thrill in the early 1990’s.

The Scale Drawing of Deinonychus antirrhopus on the Everything Dinosaur Fact Sheet

Deinonychus life reconstruction (2017).

Deinonychus life reconstruction showing feathers.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

No Feathers

We don’t think that the Deinonychus paper published in 1969 mentioned the possibility of this dinosaur having a coat of feathers.  After all, despite the holotype material having been preserved in fine clay, which eventually turned to mudstone, no evidence of feathers has been found in association with D. antirrhopus fossil material.  The presence of feathers is inferred based on exquisite feathered dromaeosaurid fossils, most notably from northern China.  Ostrom did however, start to make the connection with Deinonychus and the possibility of this dinosaur being covered in feathers, a year after his ground-breaking paper was published.  Whilst viewing what was thought to be a Pterosaur fossil from Solnhofen, at the Teylers Museum in Holland, Ostrom identified it as an Archaeopteryx specimen (A. lithographica).  He was able to subsequently make the link between the bones preserved on this fossil slab and those of Deinonychus he had described the year before.  The idea that dinosaurs and birds were closely related was revived, as Bakker later put it, the “Dinosaur Renaissance” had begun.

10 06, 2018

Fallen Kingdom Posters Donated to School

By | June 10th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Main Page, Radio Reviews|0 Comments

Fallen Kingdom Posters Donated to School

Yesterday, team members at Everything Dinosaur were able to take a break from their busy schedule and visit the cinema to watch “Fallen Kingdom”, the latest film in the “Jurassic Park/Jurassic World” franchise.  We shall leave it to others to provide a review, but we were able to pass a couple of pleasant hours marvelling at how CGI and animatronics can bring about the resurrection of long extinct species.

Prior to the film starting we got talking to the friendly cinema staff.  They were most interested in our work and as a result, one of the cinema staff members went into their office and returned with two posters.  Free posters are being given out by certain cinema chains to help promote the movie, something that we were not aware of.  Our  posters feature a giant (somewhat oversized), Mosasaurus marine reptile feeding on a shark, a famous scene from the previous film “Jurassic World”.

The Posters that Team Members at Everything Dinosaur were Given

Mosasaurus poster.

The Mosasaurus poster from the film “Fallen Kingdom.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Donating the Poster to a School

We thanked the staff for their gift of the posters, these will go to a good home.  Everything Dinosaur has a school visit arranged for Wednesday of this week, delivering a series of dinosaur workshops to classes in support of their dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed term topic.  We shall take these two posters with us and donate them to the school, perhaps the poster will help the children to remember that an animal like a Mosasaur is not actually a dinosaur.  The poster might even inspire them to have a go at drawing their very own prehistoric animals.

When Everything Dinosaur team members visit a school, we tend to bring extra resources to support the school’s scheme of work and during our dinosaur workshops, the opportunity usually arises to challenge the children to undertake some extension activities in support of the curriculum.

We suspect that these two “Fallen Kingdom” posters will be gratefully received and we are sure that they will help the classes to create their own colourful and informative dinosaur and prehistoric animal displays.

30 05, 2018

Proavis – Ground Up or Tree Down?

By | May 30th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Proavis – Ground Up or Tree Down?

Team members at Everything Dinosaur, took the opportunity whilst in London last week to pay a visit to the Grant’s Museum of Zoology, this hidden gem of a museum contains around 68,000 specimens and the densely packed cabinets house an absolute treasure trove of zoological wonders.  The Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy (to give this establishment its full title), is part of the University College London, it plays an important role in helping to teach students about anatomy.  It was founded by Robert Edmond Grant (1793-1874).

The Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy was established in 1827 to serve as a teaching collection at the newly founded University of London (later University College London).  The influential Grant taught the young Charles Darwin and he was the first Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy in England.  A lack of teaching resources did not deter the enthusiastic scientist, he set about amassing an astonishing collection of specimens, diagrams, dissection materials and lecture notes, it is these that form the basis of the Museum today.

Saying Hello to “Proavis”

Tucked up high on a shelf, barely given a second glance by the casual visitor, is a rather strange animal.  This is “Proavis”, otherwise known as Pro-Aves.  It is not an anatomical specimen as such, it is not the preserved remains of a living animal, rather it a model that attempts to depict the ancestor of birds (Aves) and as such, it is extremely significant.

Saying Hello to Proavis – (Pro-Aves)

A Proavis (Pro-Aves) model.

The “Proavis” model at the Grant Museum of Zoology (London).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The rather strange looking creature is a little worse for wear, after all, it is over a hundred years old.  Proavis consists of a wire armature, which has been covered in wax and real feathers.  It represents a theoretical missing link between feathered, Maniraptoran dinosaurs and the first birds, such as Archaeopteryx (A. lithographica).  During the late 19th Century, leading academics began to realise that birds may be closely related to dinosaurs.  Such ideas were fuelled by the publication of the seminal work “The Origin of Species” by one of Professor Grant’s former pupils (Charles Darwin) in 1859 and the excavation of the first, very nearly complete fossil of Archaeopteryx in 1861.

A Model of the Hypothetical “Missing Link” Between Reptiles and Birds

A model of the hypothetical transitional animal Proavis.

A model of the hypothetical animal Proavis.

Picture Credit: Grant Museum of Zoology

A Model of a “Missing Link”

The model is based on an illustration of a “missing link” a hypothetical transitional form between the reptiles and birds.  The term “Proavis” was first coined in 1906 by the English zoologist William Plane Pycraft.  Pycraft wrote a number of books on evolution and natural history including “The Story of Reptile Life”, that was published in 1905.  He believed that flight in early birds developed from ancestral forms that glided between trees, the “tree down” view.  However, other academics at the time proposed alternative theories for the evolution of the birds.  For example, the Hungarian polymath Franz Nopcsa proposed that flight developed first amongst fast-running terrestrial reptiles, which used their flapping arms to run faster.   The feather and wax model in the Museum originally came from Cambridge.  It was probably made by a student and it reflects the “ground up” view as championed by the likes of Nopcsa.

An Illustration of a Transitional Form Between Reptiles and Birds “Tree Down” Concept

Proavis - the origins of powered flight in ancestral birds.

From the “Origin of Birds” by Gerhard Heilmann.

Picture Credit: Gerhard Heilmann

This delicate and fragile model may look very different from today’s interpretations of the first birds and the Maniraptoran dinosaurs from which birds are descended, but it does represent an important milestone in academic thinking.  Models like “Proavis” were used to explore evolutionary theories  from more than a century ago.  As such, it does represent a “transitional form”, epitomising how ideas about Tetrapods have changed over time.

A More Modern Interpretation of a Reptile that was Ancestral to Aves (Dromaeosauridae)

Adasaurus mongoliensis illustrated.

An illustration of the dromaeosaurid Adasaurus (A. mongoliensis).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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