Sketchbook Sneak Peak

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.

  1. It’s easier to compare with pictures and simply see the difference.
  2. 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.
  3. 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…
Jurassic Park monster blend of frog, fish, lizard, and a dash of Dimorphodon.
Eek! It’s a gargoyle fitting for a monster movie. Image is not mine and is copyright to Jurassic World Alive software and Ludia inc.

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.

A placid Pterodactylus is spectator to a clash of marine monsters. Convenient that they chose land for their arena!
A serene and majestic (giant) Pterodactylus is spectator to a clash of marine monsters. How convenient that they chose land for their battle so that we could watch!

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.

That moment of anticipation before the ball is thrown.
Ready? Set…
Dimorphodon launches into the air to catch a ball.
And lift-off! No cliffs, trees, or running starts required! Just leap-frog into the air with strong wings.

Thank you so much for stopping by! See you next week for another Sketchbook Sneak-Peak! 😀