Critter of the Week: Compsognathus

Meet Twig. He’s a lot more travel-sized, if you’re looking for a dinosaur that’s not a bird.  He makes up for his size by being extra fluffy and huggable.  Can you resist that fuzzy tail?


Twig may be small, but he’s not nearly as teeny as most “educational” sources would have you believe.  Almost all the dinosaur books I’ve come across claim this little guy as the smallest dinosaur. “As big as a chicken” is the phrase often used.

Twig would have you know he’s the size of a turkey, not a chicken (makes a big difference if you’re standing right next to it).  All those other reports are actually based off a German fossil of a juvenile compy, not an adult.  Another well-preserved fossil was discovered in France in the 1970’s, but paleontologists weren’t sure it was a compy until more recent years.

Twig doesn’t mind the confusion though.  He’s not really bothered by much as long as he can snatch a lizard or two out of the bushes. 🙂

Just for fun, here’s a picture of Jurassic Park’s Compsognathus.  This picture is from the Jurassic Park Wikia, but did not have any credit associated with it.  It looks like it was cut from a screenshot of Jurassic Park: The Lost World.  It’s really quite a nice little puppet, and the film makers were able to give it the very lifelike, birdy movements described in the first book of the series.


The model has a few glaring inaccuracies, but I really enjoyed watching it in the film anyway.

  • Shrinkwrapped skin on muscle on bone, with no soft tissue in between.
  • Two fingers instead of three
  • Broken bunny arms
  • The lack of feathers is not technically inaccurate, because some relatives preserve feathers, and others preserve scales on the tail. So it’s a coin toss really, at least until we can find more data.  🙂


Making progress…

Got this done while the kids where happily playing with cars…well, they didn’t play with cars the whole time, but they were playing together, without fighting!  It was a rare blissful morning I tell ya.  😀

dippy comic progress.jpg

Of course it still needs work, but I thought I’d share my progress with you as I work on this.  I was hoping to have the eBook done by Christmas, but that was before I realized it’s almost impossible for me to not add detail.

See, I was going for a style like the size comparison critters in this chart.


 What would you prefer?  The simpler, cuter, faster to draw style, or the more detailed sketchiness I’m currently going with.  It’ll take a bit longer, but I’ll keep you posted regularly on my progress!

Coming Next Week…

Why, oh why must everyone call her ugly?  I really don’t know.  She may not be winning any beauty contests, but she’s a real sweet heart with anyone she meets. 🙂

Share your guess in the comments! She’s one of the critters over on the critter page. 🙂

Critter of the Week: Ichthyosaurus

Meet Flipper.  He’s a happy-go-lucky guy who’s only ambition in life is to cruise the water for a bite of squid.  He loves to greet new friends with a friendly splash.


Flipper the Ichthyosaurus

It’s a dolphin!  It’s a shark!  It’s a…dinosaur?

Flipper is part of a unique-snowflake group of animals called Ichthyosaurs (think Ick!-theosaurs).

Way back when his great-great-great-great-super-great grandaddy (some lizardy thing at the time) started spending a lot of time in water.  So much time, that he got really good at it, so now Flipper is basically what a dolphin or fish would look like if reptiles started an aquatic lifestyle.

At least that’s the theory.  No one’s found this hypothetical, reptilian, super-great grandaddy so far, and there’s a lot of discussion when it comes to figuring out Flipper’s closest relatives.

Flipper here doesn’t think too much about all that though.  He’s just happy with the bucketful of squid Pete brings him.


Making Progress…

With the Holiday Season upon us, I’ve decided that I’ll be slowing down the weekly posts.  After 6 months of developing the habit, it’s going to be tough to come up on Monday and not have a post up…but that doesn’t mean I’ll be slacking!

The time I would normally dedicate to a new post will be used to finish my mini-comic book.  Once that is up on Amazon I’ll then be ready to set up the sign-up forms for Postcards from the Shop, and really get to work on the picture book itself.

It’s time to stop procrastinating in the research and build-up phase, and actually get it done!

I still plan on continuing with our Critter of the Week every Wednesday, but there won’t be any new pages for a while.  At least not until I get the eBook up on Amazon.

You’ll see an Art & Science post every now and then too, since there are still things I don’t know much about, and definitely need more research on.

Here’s what I’ve been working on the last couple of days.  Pretty cool what a few focused nap times can accomplish! 😀

Just for comparison…here I have the current home page, the update I showed you last week, and the most recent update…keep in mind It’s not complete, so there’s lots of places that still need work. 🙂

home page picture


Here I’ve finished the drawing and I’ve started putting down some basic color. 🙂

homepage progress color.jpg

Coming Next Week…

The oft-proclaimed smallest dinosaur in the world is!…not as small as you might think.🙂

Share your guess in the comments! He’s one of the critters over on the critter page.🙂

Five Fast Ichthyosaur Facts

When it comes to prehistoric critters, usually Dinosaurs are the first critters to come to mind, but really that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Among the many strange critters cruising the Mesozoic seas were the Ichthyosaurs.  They’re not dinosaurs at all, even though they’re often lumped into the same pile.  So if they’re not dinosaurs, what are they exactly?  Here are five fast facts to help demystify these swimming reptiles… 


1. First things first, how do you say that?!

I recently realized I’ve been pronouncing this word wrong all my life.  I’ve been saying “Itch-theo-sore”.  But that’s with English phonetics.  The word comes from the Greek ichthys (fish) and sauros (lizard or reptile).  With that in mind, this is what it should sound like…

So now my little girl calls them “icky-saurs” instead of “itchy-saurs”. 😀


2. Ok, so what exactly is an “icktheosaur”?

Long story short, they are reptiles specially adapted to live in water.  They were born, grew up, had babies, and died in water.  Basically, reptilian “fish”.  Or reptilian “dolphins”.

They appeared during the Triassic period, around the same time the first dinosaurs started running around.  They shared a “golden age” with dinosaurs in the Jurassic period, but most died out by the time the Cretaceous period arrived.  A few species held on a while longer, but they missed out on the big asteroid that hit Earth.


3. Why do they look so much like fish/dolphin/shark…things?

If it isn’t broken, why fix it?  The fish/dolphin/shark body shape works so well for a lifestyle in water, multiple animals have adopted it.  A streamlined, torpedo body with stabilizing fins is perfect for slicing through water efficiently, so very little effort is needed to move around.

It’s a perfect example of what is called convergent evolution, which is when several completely unrelated animals (i.e. fish, reptile, mammal) develop similar body plans or lifestyles.

Personally?  I think it’s an interesting coincidence that so many unrelated animals developed the same body shape and lifestyle…very interesting indeed. 😀


4. Wait a sec…How do we know they looked like that?

That’s an easy one.  Some Ichthyosaur fossils have preserved the soft tissue of the animal, so we can see the streamlined outline, as well as a shark-like tail and fins.  Many fossils also preserve things that give us clues on behavior, like a mother giving birth to live young.  The fossil captures the newborn Ichthyosaur mid-birth!


5. No way…how do you know it wasn’t eating the smaller one?

Paleontologists can tell that the smaller Ichthyosaur was not there for some random reason because of where it is.  The little one was halfway inside the larger one (instead of just layered under it), but clearly in the right place for a baby, and not lunch.

And speaking of lunch, some fossils preserve that too!  In many of their stomachs, we find tiny hooks similar to what some modern squid have on their tentacles.  Mesozoic oceans were not a bounty of fish, as we might think, but there were squids, octopuses, and all their extinct cousins with them.  (lots of them had little hooks like switchblades on their tentacles.)

Of course an Ichthyosaur will eat whatever it can get, including fish, but the squidy things where just soo common.  Sheer numbers means they get eaten more often.

Want to find out more?  Just take a look at this awesome post by Duane Nash at his blog, Antediluvian Salad.

So there you go, “Ick-theosaurs” in a nutshell. 😀  Reptiles that dove into the water, took the life and body shape of a shark, and lived alongside the dinosaurs eating calamari.


Quick Question:  We all make mistakes, and sometimes a pronunciation mistake can be pretty funny (like my little girl’s “itchy-saur”).  Have you ever pronounced something a certain way, only to find out it’s something totally different later?  It could be a dinosaur name, or something else.  I’d love to hear from you in the comments! 😀

Critter of the Week: Brachiosaurus

Meet Elmer. He’s a little shy, and likes staying in his comfort zone, but he’ll be your best giant friend if you give him some greens and a big hug.


The best way to a dino’s heart is through his stomach, as they say.  Well, that’s not really the phrase, but I’m sure it’s just as true, especially when it comes to these long-necked sauropods. 🙂  I think the rough estimate is a solid cube- 5ft x 5ft – of vegetation in a single day to feed one of these guys.

Oh, there’s Elmer, browsing on a few of the trees that grow here in the pasture.  You’d think you’d see him right away, he’s so big.  But his striped pattern is surprisingly good camouflage in that grove of tall conifers.

What’s he looking at…? Oh, here comes Pete on the Kabota. He’ll be joining us here on the platform to feed Elmer.  If you lean over the railing a bit and look down, see that row of big boxes kinda spaced along the wall?  That’s where the big bunches of conifer branches and ferns will go.  They’re in the big shed behind us, the one to the left of the stairs we came up.

And here comes Elmer.  My goodness, he’s fast.  It looks like he’s moving slow, but with those long legs he sure covers ground quickly!  And so quiet…You’d think there’d be the big stomping footsteps you hear in Jurassic Park.

Hey there Elmer!  We have a friend to see you today. 🙂

I just can’t get over how big he is!  What are we, 30 feet up? 40?


It’s hard to grasp how big these guys really are until you’re right next to them.  Come to think of it, that’s the way it is with most animals.

To think that Elmer is as heavy as 5 elephants.  Five!  And not just any elephant.  5 bull African elephants, which are about as big as it gets when it comes to land animals walking around today.

Here’s a video that helps put that into perspective…

So five of those guys is about as heavy as the average humpback whale.  Yes, Elmer here is every bit as big as a whale, and he’s not even the biggest sauropod out there!

Oh, hi Pete, we have a visitor today!

There you are, friend, a nice bunch of ferns you can give Elmer.  Just grab it at the end here, and make sure your fingers are in a nice, tight fist.

That’s it.

Elmer’s teeth are like pruning shears, so we don’t want to lose any fingers today by mistake.

I think he likes you!


Making progress…

I’ve been working on actually finishing the homepage image for a bit now, and I thought I would share my progress so far.

It’s an important part of the site, since it’s the first thing you see, and it’s the “front window” of Pete’s Paleo Petshop.

But it’s also a test.

  • A test for style, to make sure I’m happy with it, and it’ll have the feel I’m going for.
  • A test to see how long it takes me to complete a full illustration. (so far two weeks, but that’s in between the margins of everything else)
  • And a test to make sure you like what you see as well.  After all, this may be an ambitious idea and project, but the long-term goal is to earn a passive income in a way that doesn’t take time from my family.

So here is two weeks of sporadic sketching between posts, child herding, and making sure the house doesn’t fall apart. 😛  (I exaggerate, but truly, being a stay-at-home mom takes quite a bit more work than a lot of people think 🙂 )


Compared to the current homepage…You’ll notice the little saber-tooth cub lost his fangs.  They’re just hidden behind extra large lips.  Turns out only tusks are exposed, so all saber-tooth cats should have their teeth nicely sheathed. 🙂

I did look at reference pictures, but research was kept to a minimum since most of these animals are not in the Jurassic period.  I’ll update the picture as I get to the appropriate periods, which may take a while. 😛

home page picture

Coming Next Week…

I hope you don’t mind getting wet, because this swimming critter loves to splash! 🙂

Share your guess in the comments! She’s one of the critters over on the critter page. 🙂

Which One is the Dinosaur?

When it comes to prehistoric critters, it can be real easy to point at any large, scaly beast and call it a dinosaur.  But there are a lot of prehistoric critters that were not dinosaurs, even during their heyday.  In fact, dinosaurs are only a small fraction of the animals that walked around during the “Age of Reptiles”.


Unfortunately, sometimes even “educational” books and movies will lump in the other critters in the same group as the dinosaurs.  So how can you tell which is which?

Let’s have some fun with a little quiz. Can you tell me which critters are the dinosaurs, and which ones aren’t?

First off, a handy dandy dino checklist. 

  • Dinosaur hips make for straight, sturdy legs under their bodies, just like mammals.  Unlike other reptiles that walk with legs splayed out, dinos tend to walk with one foot in front of the other, just like we do.
  • Dinosaurs all lived in the Mesozoic period up to the present day.  Birds, of course, can be seen outside your kitchen window.  All other dinosaurs, or non-avian (not-bird) dinosaurs, appeared in the Triassic, reigned all through the Jurassic, and met their end at the Cretaceous.
  • All Dinosaurs share the same latest common ancestor- the great-great-great-grandaddy of Iguanodon and Megalosaurus.  Iguanodon is a giant, spike-thumbed plant-eater from Cretaceous England.  Megalosaurus is a meat-eating distant cousin of T-rex, from Jurassic England.


Fun Fact on that last one:

Sir Richard Owen coined the name Dinosauria based on Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, and Hylaeosaurus (a plant-eater built like an armored tank, but without the club-tail of more popular armored dinos.  Cretaceous England).

All three of these critters can still be seen today at the Crystal Palace in London, where sculptures were built based on the latest scientific knowledge of the 19th century.  It’s in a sad state compared to the grandeur of its golden years, but it’s still on my bucket list. 😀

Dinosauria is often translated from the Greek as “Terrible Lizard”, but it can also translate to “Fearfully Great Reptile”.  Owen seems to have named the creatures based on their awesome size and how majestic they must’ve looked in life.  Not on their “terrible” teeth, spikes, and claws.

Now that you know the features that make a dinosaur, let’s get started! 😀  I’ll leave the answers for the very end, so that you can test yourself.


First up, Bowser the Ceratosaurus!  He’s big, and lived in Jurassic North America.  He has a nice beefy tail with the muscle power to move his legs forward, one foot in front of the other.


Plesiosaurus_not dino.jpg


Look who’s come out of hiding…Nessie the Plesiosaurus!  Those flippers are great for gliding through shallow Jurassic seas or paddling in murky rivers.  You’ll find her swimming around in Jurassic England.



Here comes Bella the Camarasaurus!  She’s a big girl, and proud of it, but she has no problem moving all that weight around.  Her legs are like pillars, strong and sturdy under her body.  You can find her in Jurassic North America.


dimetrodon_not dino.jpgWhy hello there, Dan the Dimetrodon is here for a special visit.  He came by all the way from Permian North America, an earlier time than the Triassic period.


Twig the Compsognathus is a little guy, only as big as a turkey, but that just means he’s extra fast.  He runs like a roadrunner, and easily snatches up splay-legged lizards.  You can find him in Jurassic Germany.

(quick note: there are rumors of scale patches on the legs and tail for this little guy, but I haven’t been able to find the papers describing them.  So I’ve given him feathers based on a close cousin.)


Flipper the Ichthyosaurus comes in with a splash! But what is he?  You can find him cruising Asian and European waters during the Triassic and Jurassic periods.



Tango the Archaeopteryx loves to sing and dance, and no lizard can dance like Tango can!  He’s got the finesse of a duck and the enthusiasm of a parakeet.  You can find him and his fancy feathers in Jurassic Germany.



Here comes Tigger the Pliosaurus with a big grin.  An apex predator in the water, this big guy would’ve made the Jurassic seas around Europe and South America a dangerous place to be.



Are those…Turkeys?  Why yes, yes they are.  They’re showing off their festive plumage by strutting with one foot in front of the other.  You probably see one at your dinner table on occasion.

Rhamphorynchus_not dino.jpg

Ron the Rhamphorynchus has dropped by to see you.  Those teeth look a bit vicious, but he’s just an excitable fuzzball really.  You can find him soaring through the Jurassic skies in Germany.


Think you got them all?  Let’s check and see!

  • Bowser the Ceratosaurus is a dinosaur!  He stands upright with his legs under his body, he’s a theropod (who were the theropod dinosaurs?), and he lived during the Jurassic period- the middle of the Mesozoic era.
  • Nessie the Plesiosaurus is not a dinosaur!  She lived at the same time as many dinosaurs, and she’s big and scaly, so I can understand why she’s often thrown into the pile. She’s a marine reptile called a plesiosaur, and she’s actually the first discovered, so she got to name the whole group!
  • Bella the Camarasaurus is a dinosaur!  She stands tall and straight on legs like pillars, and she lived in about the same time and place as Bowser.
  • Dan the Dimetrodon is not a dinosaur!  Dan is quite a few million years too early, with the biggest mass extinction in Earth’s history between him and dinosaurs.  But if you don’t know what time he’s from, then you can see that his legs are sticking out like a croc, instead of underneath his body.  But he’s not a croc either.  He’s a synapsid.  Mostly that’s a fancy term about the skull.  I’ll get to that when I’m working on the Permian period. 😀  That said, I totally get why people would think it’s a dinosaur.  I mean, it’s everywhere!  It’s even on my kids’ favorite oatmeal, y’know the one with the hatching dinosaur eggs?
  • Flipper the Ichthyosaurus is not a dinosaur!  He’s also not a fish, dolphin, or prehistoric whale.  He’s a marine reptile called an Ichthyosaur, and he was the first of his kind discovered, so he got to be the namesake of his group.  Since the name translates to “fish lizard” or “fish reptile”, then there’s no surprise when people call him one.  The reason he looks like a dolphin is because the fishy/dolphin/shark body plan is so perfect.  For an animal that is born, lives, and dies in water, then his body shape is perfect.

Fun fact: Plesiosaurus was given that name because her kind is “nearer to dinosaurs” than Ichthyosaurs like Flipper.

  • Tango the Archaeopteryx is a dinosaur!  Few deny the birdiness of this critter.  Where some people get confused is the dinosaurness of birds…but this little guy is a lovely mix of both.  But now you’re getting to know the drill.  Feet underneath the body and supporting his weight.  Jurassic period, “golden age” of dinos…etcetera, etcetera… 🙂
  • Tigger the Pliosaurus is not a dinosaur!  It’s starting to look like there are no swimming dinosaurs. There are always exceptions to the rule of course *cough*Spinosaurus*cough*, but in general, you don’t really see dinosaurs getting specialized for a life in water.  Tigger is another that gets to name his own group.  The Pliosaurs.  They were marine reptiles that thrived in the Jurassic and into the Cretaceous, but died out alongside the dinosaurs.
  • A Turkey is a dinosaur! Yes, when you sit down for that turkey sandwich, or prepare for that Thanksgiving feast, you are about to eat a dinosaur.  All birds are members of the theropod group (take a look at Bowser up there).  Want more info?  I’ve got a post on birds over here.
  • Ron the Rhamphorynchus is not a dinosaur! Like the marine reptiles, his kind lived at the same time, and so are always being tossed onto the same pile.  Ron is a Pterosaur, a flying reptile that is actually in the same family tree as crocs and dinosaurs, but not so close that he’s mixed in with the dinosaurs.  Pterosaurs were usually pretty good at walking, but they didn’t have the same hip as dinos.


How did you do?  If you didn’t do very well, don’t feel too bad.  There’s a lot of misinformation out there, even from sources that are supposed to be educational.  And really, it’s a lot easier just to call them all dinosaurs, instead of having to remember all the different names for the different groups.  🙂

Quick Question:  What’s your biggest source of info about dinosaurs?  Jurassic Park?  The news?  Dino obsessed friend or kid?  Your own research?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments!  😀

Critter of the Week: Stegosaurus

Meet Steggy.  She might not have very much of a brain, but she makes up for that with the softness of her heart.  There’s not a whole lot that’ll surprise her (thanks to Pete’s training), and she’ll let just about anybody clamber on her back. 🙂


I say “just about” anybody, because there was that one time some kids wanted her to be their fortress in a water balloon battle.  That was a bit too much for Steggy.  But that class of preschoolers who came to visit were adorable.  Steggy just sat there and let them climb all over her (Pete stuck a few tennis balls on her spikes, so they wouldn’t be so sharp).  The kids had a great time painting stars and hearts on her big plates.

Steggy’s pretty mellow because of all the surprise games and “scary new things” Pete does with her.  Like horses, Stegosaurus tend to be nervous around anything new.  Like training a race horse to ignore the noise of the crowd and the track, Steggy here’s been trained to not freak out when she sees something new or something jumps out of the bushes.

That small brain (just one, and about the size of the average dog brain) means that Stegosaurus tend to be more reactive, you see.  More temperamental and aggressive when they’re surprised, nervous, or scared.  And they’re fast with that tail!

That tail is a spiked mace of pure muscle, and most Stegosaurus have a “swing first, don’t ask questions” sort of attitude.

But once Steggy figured out that Pete is just going to throw new stuff at her all the time, she learned to just not be surprised.

Here’s a peek into her thought process…

A giant stuffed bear in the crook of a tree?  Huh?  Weird.  Leaves are tasty…

Neon flags waving along the fence line?  What’s that! Ooh…pretty. (steps closer, takes a cautious bite out of a green one) Ooh, they taste funny.

A big, inflatable Halloween spider sitting in a corner of the pasture.  Monster?! Wait…monster? (stares at it for a while) Hmm…not coming closer…What’s for breakfast?

Making progress…

I’m clipping along at a pretty good pace.  Or at least a steady one (not really all that fast 😛 ).

  • On Monday I officially posted my 50th post.
  • I now have 19 amazing readers who also enjoy prehistoric critters.
  • The website is looking more like a furnished house than an empty lot.
  • The Critter Cards for six of the primary characters featured in the book are complete and ready as a set of free printables.
  • All the sign-up forms and follow-up pages for Pete’s Postcards from the Shop are done and ready to go (just need to purchase domain name and “email space” so I can send ePostcards from the Shop. 🙂

And all this over the course of almost 6 months. 😀  Amazing what you can do in 15 mins – 1 hour a day

Next step is completing a collection of mini-comics.  Critter Cam: What You’re Dinosaur is Doing When You’re Not Looking.

I’ll also be working on the next set of Critter Cards, and slowly updating some of the header images on the site.  Like the Homepage picture and Meet the Critters.

While I do this it’d be awesome to see a small trickle of income…so the comic-collection gets priority so I can put it up on Amazon. 😀

Thank you so much for spending your time with me.  You’re awesome, and I truly mean that.  I hope what I do can give you a few moments of joy, entertainment, perhaps learn a little something you didn’t know…I always love hearing from you in the comments, so if there’s any way I can make your stay better, please let me know! 🙂

Coming Next Week…

This shy giant will do anything for his special person, even if it means getting out of his comfort zone.

Share your guess in the comments! She’ll be one of the critters over on the critter page. 🙂

The Art and Science of Alfred

Hello there!  Alfred is super excited to see you, and look at how curious he is.  Do you own a cat or dog?  Because he seems to think you smell good. (stay back Alfred, be nice).  Here we go, I’ve got a nice ball of cheese and bacon here.  He’ll love it.  Here Alfred, go get it!




While Alfred gets the ball, I can share this lovely disclaimer.  Que elevator music…

I do the best I can with research, but I definitely don’t claim to be an expert.  I try my best to keep up to date, and all my illustrations reflect this. (thank you internets, and to all hard-working paleo-nerds who are kind enough to make your papers open source!) 😀

That said, all the drawings in the A&S post series are quick doodles to illustrate a point, with not as much reference as I usually use, so there are plenty of inaccuracies for you to point out for me. 😉

Thank you disclaimer, you can go bother someone else now. 😛 Elevator music fades out…Oh and here comes Alfred!  Looks like he wants more…


There we go, good boy Alfred!

Now Alfred here is an Allosaurus.  He’s young, so only about 12 feet long so far, but he’ll grow to be a lot bigger.  Not as big as his wild cousins though, a few of them could be as big as T-rex! (very few, gotta be old to get that big, and most dinos have a live fast, die young policy)


1. On Scaly Skin vs. Feathers

So you see Alfred here has these lovely bright yellow and forest green scales, the colors of youth. (They’ll mellow out a bit when he gets older, like monitor lizards do)

Also like a monitor lizard, you’ll notice that most of Alfred’s scales are quite small, with a rather pebbly texture.  They get a bit larger and thicker on his back, which is good since adult Allosaurus tend to get into quite a lot of tussles with each other.  But most of his scales have that nice cobblestone look to them.

Like this guy, remember him from last week’s post on feathers and scales?


Short answer as to why Alfred has scales…there’s a young Allosaurus with preserved scales somewhere on it’s body.  (Unfortunately the report didn’t say where)

Long answer was so long I made a post out of it…To Feather or Not to Feather Your Dinosaur, That is the Question.  (The komodo dragon above was laying around in that post.  So was this gal, she’s a monitor lizard. 🙂 )



2. Getting Comfy…

*happy sigh* Oh look…nom? -Alfred

Looks like Alfred’s all worn out from chasing after that giant, cheesy bacon-ball.  He hasn’t quite grown into his adult silhouette yet.  He’s still young enough to think he can chase after stuff, but he’s starting to get to an age where it’s getting hard to make those quick turns.

When he fills out his more barrel-chested adult figure, he’ll be spending quite a bit of his leisure hours (think energy-efficient) laying around.  Since his body is a bit taller than it’s wide (more lanky cat than double-wide gator), it’s more relaxing to be lounging on his side.

Of course, that doesn’t mean he can’t do other things to relax, even things that may surprise us (ever seen a large horse roll?  It’s hilarious 😀 ).

Good boy! Roll Over!


Oh, and here’s that horse… 😀 I can totally picture some “duckbill” dino doing this.


3. Where are His Teeth?!

Show us your teeth copy.jpg
Clearly I need more practice drawing people.  Thank you for volunteering Pete. 🙂


I hear ya, I wondered the same thing when I looked up pictures of Komodo Dragons and monitor lizards.  But wait, what does that have anything to do with it?

Pete will help us out here.  I know Alfred looks a little awkward, but he’s actually quite comfy.  Ah- I’ll let Pete tell you the rest…

“Thank you.  Yes, Alfred is quite at ease here.  I’m not heavy to him at all, and he weighs at least a good 300 pounds at this age.  So he doesn’t mind a bit.

I’m tilting his head back very gently- show us your teeth there Alfred, that’s it, nice and easy.

See this is the biggest difference between a domestic Allosaurus like Alfred here and a wild one.  Look how completely relaxed he is.  He’s not fighting me at all, and even his eyes are closed, look at that. (Alfred makes a gurgly, kinda purring sound in his throat)

Anyhow, I’m holding onto his lips here so I keep my fingers out of his mouth.  My fingers can look a bit like treats, so I’ll be sure to keep them right at the edge here, at the gums.

All this, the lips, the gums, the saliva- it all keeps his teeth nice and moist.  Dinosaurs have a healthy coat of enamel on their teeth, same as your teeth, and the key to healthy teeth is to keep them moist.  Even better if you can give your teeth a constant bath of saliva.

Yes, drool is essential to healthy teeth!

Now Alfred will lose his teeth and grow new ones, just like crocodiles and alligators do, but if you look closely at these teeth-they’re serrated.  They’re like steak knives- not like the cone-like teeth of crocodiles.

Thank you Alfred, you’ve been quite patient.  Here’s some jerky. 

But crocodiles don’t need serrated teeth.  They’re eating different things, they have a different habitat, and different diet, they’re eating in a completely different way.  Alfred has teeth like a bone saw.

Ever cut a roast turkey with an electric knife?  That’s what Alfred’s teeth are doing when he eats, so they need to stay sharp, and they need to be strong in his mouth.  So the gums hold his teeth, and his lips keep them nice and moist so they stay strong and don’t get brittle.”

Thank you Pete, and Alfred.  Just for comparison, here is a crocodile monitor lizard.

Looks friendly doesn’t he?  Image not my own, but I couldn’t find who to credit.  If you know who I should credit, please let me know. 🙂

My first thought, “Where are the teeth?!”  Then I noticed those sharp white triangular things inside the lip.  Also interesting is that it looks like there are pockets for the bottom teeth to slip into. 🙂  Here’s the skull of the same animal…

Image not mine.  If you know who I should credit, I’d love to give credit where credit is due.  Thank you. 🙂

They look quite different from the other picture don’t they?  Almost, shall I say, dinosauresqe?  Take a look at an Allosaurus skull. 😀

Image copyright to Jason R. Abdale.  

The one and only skull I could find that doesn’t have its teeth halfway falling out of their sockets (it happens when the dead critter decays).  Jason has many more pictures of the Allosaurus mounts at the American Museum of Natural History, and I’d highly recommend you check out his blog post.  You’ll also discover all my errors and where I need to fix Alfred. 😀

 Quick Question: Help me find what I need to fix!  If you wouldn’t mind checking out this blog post on Allosaurus, you’ll get to see some great pictures of excellent mounts, and you’ll see what I have to correct in my illustrations of Alfred.  

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!  I’ll be posting a comment on how many I find, and let’s see if we come up with the same ones or more. 😀

P.S.- You can always hop over the the A&S page to pick out who you want to see next! 🙂

Critter of the Week: Diplodocus

Meet Dippy!  A giant with a heart of gold, life is never boring when this big guy is around.  Nothing is out of reach!  He’ll stick his nose into everything until every mystery is solved.


Looks like he’s found a very, very big ball to play with.  That ball is pretty much indestructible, and something that comes in handy when you have curious giants like Dippy around.  He loves food just as much as your average sauropod, but Dippy is…how shall I say?  Easily distracted. 😛

Dippy here loves investigating anything new.  He’s not the sharpest rock around, but when you’re this big, brains aren’t a requirement.  I wonder what he plans to do with that ball?  Pete found his old one flattened out in the pasture a couple weeks ago, so we’ll see how long this one lasts.

What’s that you say?  An accident?  Oh no, I’m sure the ball was squished on purpose.  These guys have an amazing sense of touch.  Dippy doesn’t like stepping on certain things, and he’s very careful where he puts his feet (elephants are like this too).

Dippy seems to like the smooth bounciness.  But who doesn’t like to play every now and again? 🙂

To get an idea on how big the ball is, check out the super-sized balls these horses are playing with. 😉


Making progress…

Dippy’s official page is up! 😀

And it looks like I can purchase a domain name (like instead of and be able to forward emails from the site for less than $100!  So that’s awesome. 😀

With that in mind, I’m working on the next step- finishing the first collection of mini-comics for an eBook.  This eBook will be available for 99 cents, but you can purchase a physical copy for a few more bucks.

Once this collection is finished, then I’ll purchase the domain name and you’ll get to download and print those free collectible Critter Cards I showed you a couple weeks back. 😀

Here’s Dippy, since he’s the Critter of the Week. 🙂


Just a friendly reminder.  If you’re seeing this in your email right now, it would be awesome if you’d click on the post title.  That will take you to the actual page, which helps the Paleo Petshop get noticed by Google, which is a good thing if you like what you read and want to share it with others. 🙂 Thank you so much for being here with me.  I truly appreciate it when we can chat a little together.

If you don’t mind spoilers, here’s a preview for one of the comics- Dippy vs. Ball. 





Coming Next Week…

A real sweetie who’ll tolerate just about anything, even dress up.  Just be careful not to spook her.

Share your guess in the comments! She’ll be one of the critters over on the critter page. 🙂