Sketchbook Sneak Peak

Little Scutellosaurus never knew it’s descendants would be such incredible tanks!

Scutellosaurus was a small armored dinosaur from Early Jurassic North America, in what is now the Kayenta Formation in New Mexico. It’s bony scutes were rather similar to those of crocodiles, and probably appeared very similar to crocodile skin in life.

Stegosaurus appeared in Late Jurassic North America, in an area known as the Morrison Formation in the American west. More time separates it from Scutellosaurus than the millions of years between T. rex and us!

Stegosaurus is famous for its elaborate array of plates and spikes, which were covered in sheaths of horn. Like the large horns on longhorn cattle or the large ears of African elephants, these large plates were filled with a complex series of blood vessels that helped the animal stay cool in the heat or take advantage of the sun’s warming light on cool mornings.

Other benefits to large, heavy, and energetically expensive decorations are communication with other stegosaurs and intimidating predators. Cape buffalo have a ridge along their spines to make them appear as large and difficult a target as possible. Perhaps Stegosaurus would’ve faced a predator sideways, swinging its tail and bristling like a porcupine!

Ankylosaurus was another relative of Scutellosaurus that is far more well known than it’s humble ancestor, but it did not appear until nearly the end of the Cretaceous Period. It lived alongside T. rex, and was heavily armored with scutes covered in horn.

Next up is something purely for fun! I absolutely adore the idea of tiny clay creations, and secretly (not so secretly lol ) hope to one day have a collection of all my critters in their tiny clay forms. 😀 This little collection is a mini Morrison march, and is just a bit of fun brainstorming of what mini figures may look like. Can you imagine a tiny, cute environment in an Altoid tin? I love seeing those on Instagram!

Thank you so much for stopping by! See you on July 1st for the next Critter of the Month! 😀

Sketchbook Sneak Peak

Do Pterosaurs make good pets?

Well that depends on what you need in a pet. If you like lizards or birds, and you have the proper enclosures, some of the smaller pterosaurs can make great pets! Take the Rhamphorynchus Pete is holding down below…a fully enclosed run and a small plastic swimming pool is all you need for this little guy to be content.

If your friend needs a companion or two, there are other creatures from the Solnhofen formation that are good options. Rhamphorynchus does not really need company, but it won’t mind if you decide to also bring a Compsognathus to your home. Compsognathus is large enough that Rhamphorynchus won’t bully them.

Pterodactylus and Archaeopteryx are too small to be in the same enclosure as Rhamphorynchus. Rhamphorynchus tend to be more pushy, and may end up bullying critters smaller than them. Both Pterodactylus and Archaeopteryx are social creatures, and are happiest with at least one other of their kind. If kept together in an enclosure, Archaeopteryx and Pterodactylus tend to ignore each other until meal time comes around. Always keep meal times separate to avoid fierce competition.

Compsognathus does not have this problem, and gets along well with anyone. It may be a little more enthusiastic and curious than the other creatures would like, but if it really ruffles their feathers or fluff that much then they can just fly to a higher perch.

A subadult Rhamphorynchus enjoys a back scratch.
Solnhofen neighbors from left to right...Pterodactylus, Archeopteryx, Rhamphorynchus, and Compsognathus.
Pterodactylus will fly to your hand for treats! Pete wears a glove to avoid accidental scratches.

Thank you so much for stopping by! See you on June 26th for the next sneak peak into the sketchbook! 😀

Fossil Friday: A Peak in the Sketchbook

I don’t have a critter ready to feature today, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have Fossil Friday. 🙂 I’ve been hard at work with the illustrations for the short story collection, which is getting close to my personal deadline to finish it! Take a quick peak in my sketchbook to see what I’ve been working on….

First up are a few drawings from the aquatic creatures like Hybodus and Plesiosaurus. Hybodus was a shark-like animal that patrolled many of Earth’s shallow seas for an incredibly long time. Species of Hybodus span from the Permian period (the era just before the Triassic, the dawn of the “dinosaur age”) all the way to the late Cretaceous during the reign of Tyrannosaurus. In the first image all fish are drawn to scale.

The second image is featured on the fun facts section for Plesiosaurus, a marine reptile famous for its long neck. In the story, Nessie the Plesiosaurus is fed squid stuffed into ammonite shells, so I explored ammonites and other similar creatures.

The following two drawings are featured in the fun facts for one of the first stories, Ceratosaurus. Since Ceratosaurus and many of its neighbors in the Morrison Formation have the prestige of being among the first dinosaurs named, I thought it would be fun to show how our image of dinosaurs has changed over time. No, it has nothing to do with an excuse to draw vintage dinosaurs…nothing at all. 😀

Once I started researching vintage paleoart from the late 1800s, I couldn’t help but imitate the charm and personality of their drawings. I love seeing Stegosaurus’ many varying plates and tail spikes before they understood the arrangement as we do now, and most scale drawings have some snarling predator creeping up to an utterly oblivious herbivore and/or human. I almost went for the derpy Diplodocus with toothpicks for legs, but it was just a little too awkward, and even at the time most people did not think Diplodocus was a belly dragger (They thought sauropods were water-dwelling creatures, surely something as big as a whale couldn’t hold up its own weight!). Just for fun though, I’ll show you what I mean at the end of this post. 😀

The middle picture is just a close up of the two Ceratosaurus, modern and old. 🙂

This image was borrowed from, which has collected all of Heinrich Harder’s beautiful artwork along with other art published before 1923.

This picture is not mine, obviously, but painted by German artist Heinrich Harder. He did a large series of paintings for collectible cards of prehistoric animals, and all of them are gorgeous. I find it rather interesting that a Brontosaurus he painted holds its body up on strong, almost bear-like legs instead of these spindly lizardy ones. You can find that Brontosaurus here, and I highly recommend heading over to take a look at his card collection here and here.

Thank you so much for stopping by! See you on July 1st for the next Critter of the Month! 😀

Critter of the Month: Dimorphodon

Meet Douglas. He’s excited to meet you!  This bundle of energy may not be the best of flyers, but he loves to clamber all over things…rocks, trees, the couch, you… 😉

Douglas the Dimorphodon chases after something.

The little girl clung tightly to the small creature, his wings folded close against his furry body. His back paws dangled loosely down by her legs, but he didn’t seem to mind. He gazed up at her pink, rounded face with the wide-eyed curiosity of a bird as she chattered about lizards and the rough bark on the pine trees that bordered the fenced backyard.

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