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STL Science Center
21 July 2012
Different Versions of A Diminuitive Dromaeosaur
Little dinosaurs are always intriguing and all dinosaurs, including the little ones, typically have multiple representations drawn out by different artists as to how they should have looked, acted, been colored, ornamented, and presented themselves in social settings. Dromaeosaurs have always been a hot point of contention for paleontologists and illustrators and therefore we see a lot of illustrations that either bridge two views or highly represent one or the other. These days that is less true as most artists have adopted the heavily feathered and avian look of dromaeosaurs. In this case we have a heavily avian influenced version of Buitreraptor, which I believe I forgot to mention means "Gonzalez's Vulture Roost Thief," that is pretty wonderful, though the snout looks a bit strange and shorter than I think it should be.
This illustration retains the feathering, as is the popular trend, as previously mentioned, but reverts the anatomical characteristics of Buitreraptor to much more saurian characteristics. The more reptilian body does, however, fit the structure of the skeleton as shown when mounted with an elongated snout and a narrow body profile. The fingers are lost in feathering, but my still retain the strange, for a dromaeosaur, hand and arm proportions found in its family (subfamily: Unenlagiinae). This fact makes sense when geography is considered because it was a Southern Hemisphere dinosaur whereas the best known and largest family sampling of dromaeosaurs comes from the Northern Hemisphere. Something was sure to be different between the two branches and the hand and arm proportions of the southern families must have adapted the way they did in order to best equip the animals for their environment, which we know was very different geographically, from the northern families territories.
This is a photo illustration, meaning the artist used photos and illustrated around them as well. The overall body appearance agrees with an illustration by Matt Martyniuk on his blog. Additionally, as the artist stated, the positioning of the animal was inspired by Black Heron fishing habits. The idea that Buitreraptor may have fished this way is original to the artist, but has fairly good merit and the idea that the arm feathers may have been used to reduce glare from the sun for fishing purposes is intriguing and original. It does make me wonder though, with the nostrils so low on the snout, could the animal have managed to not disturb the water in pursuing fish with its breathing in or out?