Critter of the Month: Ornitholestes

Meet Opie. He’s a happy little fella who loves to curl up in your lap, so it’s a good thing he’s about the size of a big dog!


Sunlight streamed through the tangled layers of conifer branches and palm fronds to pierce the eternal twilight of the undergrowth. A cloud of tiny, reflective wings coiled like mist in the shaft of light, the thin whine of their hanging flight almost drowned by the whirring, buzzing, drumming, chirping of countless other unseen insects. Alien cries from leather-winged creatures called from above, answered and challenged by a cacophony of voices that clicked, whooped, hollered, whistled…any and every sound fighting to be heard through air so dense with foliage and humidity, constant moisture clung to the leaves and dripped to the black forest floor.

Ferns broke apart. A small, bird-like figure dashed through the stream of sunlight, black and white bars of a long, scaly tail gleaming for an instant before plunging into a thick tangle of rigid cycad fronds.
Branches still swaying, another figure leapt through the beam of light. Larger. Stronger. A flash of claws, and his spotted coat of furry feathers disappeared after the banded tail. He darted through the dense undergrowth, eyes large and luminous in the gloom as he pursued his quarry.
She was fast, her three-toed feet light on the soft forest floor, but he followed the long black and white tail that wove in and out of shrubs, through ferns, over thin streams…Always one step ahead, but not for long. Large boulders crossed their path. The smaller creature hesitated for an instant, her creamy head bobbing, birdlike, searching for an escape.
The predator pounced. Long arms with grabbing fingers reached forward almost as far as his snapping jaws, but they closed around air.
With a startled chirp, the small creature was suddenly high above him. She landed on the broken, moss-grown rocks and scrambled up to the top with clawed hands and feet, the light and dark patches of her feathered body blending in seamlessly with the fragmentary shafts of light that pierced the high canopy. She stood as tall as her small body could stand and chirped a high, rapidly repeating call, her head twitching back and forth with each squeaky note.
The predator crouched, his long back legs shifting like a cat ready to pounce…
A second creamy head appeared at the top of the log. Then another. They looked down at the predator, chirping with the sound of rubber shoes on a wood floor, and more creamy heads materialized in the gloom. Black and white banded tails waved back and forth like a mass of mesmerizing tentacles. The predator took a step back. And then another.

nanosaurus defense

Like a horde of writhing serpents, the scaly mass of black and white jumped down from the rocks, and with a screech the predator turned tail and ran into the forest.

The smaller dinosaurs lowered their banded tails, and one by one disappeared into the gloom. Their quiet chirps muted by the chorus of voices in the undergrowth.



I must say, I think I like this one as much as Bowser’s story. 😀


Not too long ago, Opie chased a character named Pearl the Othnielosaurus. But that has changed. Turns out that Othnielosaurus, Othnielia, and Nanosaurus are all the same critter. Nanosaurus is the name that actually won out, so now I have Nina the Nanosaurus instead of Pearl the Othnielosaurus.

Just FYI, the feathers are purely speculation, more of a “maybe it looked this way, maybe it didn’t, but I kind of like it” sort of thing. There are some two-legged, plant eating dinosaurs (traditionally called Ornithischia) preserved with fur-like feathers…but they’re only distantly related, so aren’t really helpful in knowing anything for sure about Nanosaurus and its close cousin, Dryosaurus.

But…these feathered distant relatives do make feathers a possibility, so I’m sticking feathers on the smaller Nanosaurus. 😀

Oh, and in case you want to hear the sound Pearl and her friends were making…



Making progress…

Woohoo! So much great progress this month! Baby is finally starting to sleep a little more at night, and thanks to my bullet journal I am much more focused on the goal for the week. 🙂

So first on the progress report is a progress chart, because I love checklists and progress charts, anything to show me how far I’ve come and how much I have left to do. 🙂 This progress chart shows how much I’ve done for the short story collection so far. All the critters below have a short story featured in the collection. If the story is polished and ready for publishing, then I have the species name. If the critter has their portrait illustration complete, then they are colored in. Finally, if the critter has one or two sketches ready to place in their story, then they will have a splash of color behind them.

Anthology progress chart_flat


As you can see on the chart, I’ve actually done quite a lot! Mostly everyone has a proper portrait and story that is polished and ready for publishing. The next step now is finishing those few that are left and scribbling a few little sketches to go with them. I say scribbling only as a mental trick to actually do it, because a big reason I haven’t drawn more “sketches” is perfectionism. Then I look at the little doodles accompanying the stories of Winnie the Pooh or so many other children’s stories, think of how adorable and effortless they look, and I’m reminded of how much I’m over thinking it. 🙂

So here’s an example of how it all looks put together… It’s starting to come along nicely.

Sample page


Something else I’ve made great progress, and I’m super excited about, is the update for Copper and Daisy’s portraits!  Just for grins, I thought we could have a little jog down memory lane through the older versions before revealing the shiny new one. 🙂

I think it shows how much I’ve improved over the years. This first one was posted way back in 2016! Unlike Steggy, Copper and Daisy have always kept their colors, but by far the biggest change is the level of detail and the style of painting. Looking at my newest one compared to the first, I think there’s a sense of being more comfortable with illustration overall. There’s definitely more brave explorations with varying poses and light!






Hehe, I just couldn’t resist showing off my beautiful ugly dino toes! This is where I’ve struggled the most, so I really did my best to stretch into it this time. I must say I absolutely loved staring at all the ugly ostrich, emu, cassowary, and rhea feet! I love bird feet!

Aren’t these two the cutest? They’re among my favorites (what can I say? I have a long list of favs lol 😀 ).

Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope to have a lot more progress to report next month. 🙂




Coming April 1st…

This handsome fellow just likes to spend a quiet afternoon near a special friend. 🙂

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

2 thoughts on “Critter of the Month: Ornitholestes

  1. Thank you Brownie, I’m glad you liked it! They are fluffy little things aren’t they? Do not underestimate a miniature army of fluff! 😀

    Thank you for the feedback! I’ll have to see if tweaking the shadow helps. I couldn’t quite figure out how to make it less awkward, so I might get rid of it entirely.

    Yes, Skippy the Hoplosuchus will be featured in the anthology. 🙂 Making progress bit by bit! This has been a slow month, but hopefully I’ll still have something new to add to the progress chart. 🙂


  2. Yay, Nina’s friends to the rescue! They’re so *fluffy.* Heh, I would run too if I saw a whole bunch of fluffy dinos jump out at me from out of nowhere!

    I really like how you use description. The sights, sounds, and smells just kinda naturally came up in my head, so it was easy for me to put myself in the scene. 🙂 Instead of distracting me from the story itself, I think it really helped set the tone. One thing that did stand out a bit to me was the use of slightly wordy-sounding phrases–things like “eternal twilight” and “cacophony of voices.” But that’s probably just a style thing.

    Copper and Daisy are so pretty! 😀 I really like the lighting, texture, details, colors…well, everything! It’s cool to see how you’ve improved, and it’s exciting to think of how that’ll show in the picture book. Only thing is that Daisy’s shadow, while it helps add depth, stands out a little. Maybe it would help to lighten it?

    I really like the progress chart, too. 😀 You’re almost there–keep it up! Hey, maybe when it’s all colored in you could turn it into a poster? 😛 And I noticed you included hoplosuchus. Is he going to be in the anthology?


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