Sketchbook Sneak Peak

What do you like to do over the weekend?

Pete enjoys leisurely walks with the critters at the shop. Today he’s taking Opie the Ornitholestes and Nina the Nanosaurus.

Wait a second, don’t they have a rather antagonistic relationship? Well, yes, you’d be correct if we were talking about wild Ornitholestes and Nanosaurus, but domestic ones can learn to get along with the proper training. A well fed and regularly exercised Ornitholestes soon learns to ignore a Nanosaurus, especially one that is fully grown. Nina here will be just a little bigger than Opie once she reaches her full size, but that’ll be a while yet since she’s already mature and now in slow-growth mode.

Many dinosaurs grow very quickly in size when they’re young, like us. Once mature, we don’t grow any taller, but many dinosaurs will continue growing (at a much slower pace) for as long as they live.

Pete usually has a harness for Nina, but he doesn’t need one for Opie. Opie saw Pete for the first time when he hatched out of the egg, and he followed Pete around like a duckling follows its mother. He’s all grown up now, so he usually spends time out in his paddock, but he’ll still follow Pete around when he comes by. All the Ornitholestes that did not see Pete as a hatchling don’t do this, so he uses a harness anytime he needs to take them somewhere.

Frenemies? Pete takes Nina the Nanosaurus and Opie the Ornitholestes for a walk.
Time for a walk! They don’t really need walks at the shop, but Pete likes to spend a little time with the different animals.

Out in the wild, a fully grown adult Nanosaurus wouldn’t have too much to worry about from an Ornitholestes, especially as a flock. Young chicks would definitely have to watch out though, like these hiding in the cycad fronds. Luckily for them, this Ornitholestes is only curious about the rustling in the foliage, and not particularly hungry. A hunting Ornitholestes would keep its head low, and move slowly and quietly. Then the young Nanosaurus would crouch low to the ground and sit absolutely still, ready to dart out of the stiff cycad leaves if they are found.

Nanosaurus chicks spy on a curious Ornitholestes from behind some plants. He'll never notice...
Maybe he won’t notice us?

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

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! 😀

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! 😀

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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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.jpg

The little girl clung tightly to the small creature, his wings folded close against his furry body. His legs 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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Critter of the Month: Rhamphorynchus

Meet Ron. He’s the flying ace.  He’ll swoop from the sky, dive into the water, and swim anywhere for a shiny fish. 🙂

Ron

Gravel crunched under rubber as Pete pulled in to a stop a short way from the lake. With a turn of his wrist he shut off the ignition and tossed the keys on the console between the two front seats. He grabbed his hat and shoved it on his head as he shrugged open the door, and his heavy boots crunched on the gravel road.

It was a clear afternoon with a sky so deep a blue it looked almost painted, and Pete whistled a little tune as he shut the door, opened the passenger door, and reached into the back seat.

“You awake yet?” he asked, straining a little as he dragged out a large pet carrier. It lurched to the side with a squeal and a jingle, and Pete held it steady to keep it from ramming into the front seat.

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