I have all sorts of pterosaurs flying and scampering around in my sketchbook lately.
Dimorphodon was a smallish flying reptile from the early Jurassic period. The first fossils were discovered by the famous paleontologist Mary Anning off the coast of England, and then named by Richard Owen himself in 1859. Despite its history, it’s not particularly well known aside from its appearance in the Jurassic Park franchise.
Now as much as people like to pick apart the inaccuracy of “those animals” from the Jurassic Park franchise, I will not be doing that here.
It’s easier to compare with pictures and simply see the difference.
The Jurassic Park team is actually quite aware that their prehistoric animals are inaccurate, and most of their new creatures simply keep to the aesthetic of the franchise (though they’ve certainly made an effort to include a little more accuracy in the games, like Jurassic World Alive). There are rumors that Jurassic World: Dominion will have more accurate dinosaurs, which would be awesome even if it’s only a flashback to the Mesozoic.
All prehistoric creatures from the Jurassic Park franchise are the products of Dr. Wu’s genetic manipulations, many of which have either been spliced together with frog or fish DNA, or else simply altered to have whichever traits Dr. Wu wanted to highlight at the time. Considering he created monsters like the Indominus rex and Indoraptor…
On the subject of monsters, I had a blast drawing some vintage antediluvian sea monsters and flying reptiles! I just love any excuse to draw old-fashioned dinosaurs and other prehistoric critters. I referenced some of the original etchings to draw these, so you may recognize them even if I added a few tweaks of my own.
Pterodactylus was the first prehistoric creature ever officially described. Some thought it was a bat-like mammal, which explains the fur here. I drew the wings based on the Pterodactylus sculptures at the Crystal Palace in London. I loved their swan-like grace, and I figured most scientists at the time thought the wings would be more like this instead of the odd circular shape in the original sketch. So even though this pterosaur closely references the first original sketch of Pterodactylus, I took the liberty of swapping out the wings with a model I imagine was far more common at the time.
Now that we’ve had fun with movie monsters and first guesses, let’s take a look at a more modern understanding of pterosaurs. Dimorphodon in particular.
Dimorphodon was rather unusual for a pterosaur. Its body is proportionally heavier than most other pterosaurs its size, and with its shorter wings may have preferred staying on the ground or clambering in the trees. Rather like turkeys do today. So how would you get Dimorphodon off the ground?
Something scary would certainly do it, but Pete prefers to show us this behavior by throwing a treat or a ball.
Thank you so much for stopping by! See you next week for another 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! 😀
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.
Thank you so much for stopping by! See you on June 26th for the next sneak peak into the sketchbook! 😀
Meet Gulper. He’s the biggest, most easy-going fish in the sea. All he wants in life is to drift through nice sunny waters. He’d love it if you joined him for a swim, and you’re welcome to hitch a ride on his fin. 🙂
Today we have a short comic featuring one of Gulper’s giant friends. It’s speculated that these gentle giants would’ve gathered together to feed on giant clouds of plankton and other tiny creatures in the ocean.
Meet Bella. She’s big, she’s loud, and she’s really happy to see you! She’s happy to see anyone really, except Alfred, but can you blame her? There’s about a-bazillion years of conflict going on there…
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… 😉
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.