Awesomely Accurate I – Dromaeosauridae

Starting off a new series of blog posts – Awesomely Accurate, I will focus on the inaccuracies of the paleoart of the family Dromaeosauridae. As this includes Velociraptor and Deinonychus, I decided this would be a good starting point. Each Awesomely Accurate post will also have the most accurate illustrations of a large variety genera in the family, all of which will come with permission of the author, and hopefully also, a Creative Commons license.

Dromaeosaurids are highly derived theropods, and their anatomy is relatively well-known, so I will start the first Awesomely Accurate post now.

Accuracy points for dromaeosaurids:

  • The feathers of dromaeosaurids covered their bodies, and their arms and occasionally their legs supported wings.
  • Dromaeosaurids all had only pennaceous feathers, which were light and together would have created a nearly smooth mass. No dromaeosaurids had plumulaceous feathers (like chick down). However, the pennaceous feathers were only assymetrical on Microraptor and possibly related microraptorians.
  • The limited skin that can be shown should not be scaly but wrinkly, like the skin of a elephant.
  • The primary feathers were only found on the second finger and the hand, and extended all the way to the claw.
  • Secondary feathers extended along the entire lower arm, becoming smaller as they neared the humerus.
  • The third finger should not be viewable from the outside of the hand, as it was likely less mobile than the other fingers and was covered by the feathers of the second finger.
  • Two claws touched the ground, and the foot was covered in a fleshy pad. The first toe, the dewclaw, was vestigial and lay beside the ankle in all genera other than Balaur. The second toe was raised in all genera as it sported the large claw.
  • The pupil of dromaeosaurids was like a birds and round, not a slit. They also were only about half the diameter of the cornea.
  • Dromaeosaurid tails were stiff, with tendons greatly limiting side-to-side movement more so than up-down actions.
  • None of the openings in the skull or jaw could be seen in life, they were filled with muscle and fat and other tissues.
  • The cornea was about half the diameter of the orbit, as sclerotic rings attached to the remainder of the eye and were hidden behind flesh.
  • Like in bird eyes, the pupil would always be in the center of the eye, as sclerotic rings limited its movement.
  • Dromaeosaurids also most certainly had tail fans.
  • The arms of dromaeosaurids couldn’t be tucked up very tightly, unlike birds. Their humerus couldn’t rotate forward very much past 50º of the vertical without popping out of the socket.
  • Microraptor was a dark iridescent blue, and had leg wings nearly as big as its arm wings.
  • Sinornithosaurus was an mix of orangey-red and brown feathers.
  • Rahonavis and microraptorians couldn’t quite fly, but could glide, while the remainder of Dromaeosauridae was too big to.
  • Velociraptor is known to have quill knobs on its arms, indicating it had wings on its arms for certain.

And now, for the first Awesomely Accurate featured pictures!

Deinonychus, Emily Willoughby, cc-by-sa 4.0

Deinonychus, by Emily Willoughby, cc-by-sa 4.0

Achillobator, by Durbed, cc-by-sa 3.0

Achillobator, by “Durbed”, cc-by-sa 3.0

Atrociraptor, by Michael Bech, cc-by-sa 3.0

Atrociraptor, by Michael Bech, cc-by-sa 3.0

Balaur, Emily Willoughby, cc-by-sa 3.0

Balaur, Emily Willoughby, cc-by-sa 3.0

Dromaeosauroides, by Michael Bech, cc-by-sa 3.0

Dromaeosauroides, by Michael Bech, cc-by-sa 3.0

Linheraptor, by "Smokeybjb", cc-by-sa 3.0

Linheraptor, by “Smokeybjb”, cc-by-sa 3.0

Luanchuanraptor, by Michael Bech, cc-by-sa 3.0

Luanchuanraptor, by Michael Bech, cc-by-sa 3.0

Acheroraptor, by Emily Willoughby, cc-by 3.0

Acheroraptor, by Emily Willoughby, cc-by 3.0

Changyuraptor, by Emily Willoughby, cc-by-sa 4.0

Changyuraptor, by Emily Willoughby, cc-by-sa 4.0

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About ijreid

I am an amateur palaeontologist thats hobbies include studying extinct amniotes, specifically dinosaurs, birds, and mammals. Occasionally, I focus my time on detailed and accurate illustrations of dinosaurs, and I have completed drawings of Dysalotosaurus, Micropachycephalosaurus, Zhuchengtyrannus, Troodon, Eotyrannus, Europelta, and Achillobator. I do not believe in copyrights, and think that the world would be better if everything was open access.
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