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About Varied / Professional Core Member Emily WilloughbyFemale/United States Groups :icondomain-of-darwin: Domain-of-Darwin
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Most of my watchers by now will have seen my two illustrations for this new dromaeosaur, but I think the discovery is exciting enough to warrant its own journal entry as well!

Without further ado: meet Dakotaraptor, the first "giant" dromaeosaur from the Hell Creek formation.

Dakotaraptor steini by EWilloughby

I've been sitting on these illustrations for months and can't think of the last time I've been so excited to illustrate a new taxon. At 5.5 meters in length and with magnificently robust ulnar quill knobs, this is not only the first "giant" dromaeosaur from Hell Creek, but it is also the first dromaeosaur in this size range with indisputable evidence of feathers. And not just shaggy and sparse "protofeathers" as many skeptics purport in defense of the "half-arse" integument pattern (I'm sorry you hate that image, Tom, but no other infographic uses the term "half-arse"...).

No, Dakotaraptor had massive ulnar quill knobs, which meant that its arms likely supported thick, heavy feathers with a stiff central rachis. This confirms, once and for all, that feathers stage 3 and beyond existed on dromaeosaurs larger than Velociraptor and Zhenyuanlong. What was such a large dromaeosaur doing with feathers like this? There are several options which are not mutually exclusive: brooding eggs, aggressive mating and territorial displays, shielding young... but many of you will recall my particular fondness for Denver Fowler's 2011 paper on "raptor prey restraint", which posited a unique predatory role for robust wings on non-volant dromaeosaurs. These wings would have acted as stabilizers and balancers for a large animal as it struggled atop still-living prey, much as modern birds of prey do. Modern hawks and eagles have evolved particularly stout and powerful ankles for this purpose, which allow greater torque for the inner claw on each foot to dig into unruly prey. This inner claw is, certainly by no coincidence, by far the largest on most birds of prey.

Dakotaraptor's Ornithomimus Dinner by EWilloughby 

The use of RPR by Dakotaraptor means it would have been especially appropriate when grappling similarly-sized prey, and Hell Creek has given us the perfect also-feathered match: Ornithomimus, a new feathered specimen of which has been described just days before.

There is much to be said on Dakotaraptor, from its possible synonymity with Acheroraptor to its ecological relationships with other Hell Creek carnivores, but it should come as no surprise that the role of feathers in its predatory ecology is what interests me most! I look forward to seeing what future analyses and potentially more material will bring.

As for my watchers, I have a request of all of you: I have not had the time to sift through the rapid influx of new illustrations of this exciting taxon, so please link to your favorites in the comments! (I have seen the Saurian version many times and am more interested in seeing others, mind you.)
  • Mood: Zest


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Emily Willoughby
Artist | Professional | Varied
United States
"I don't build in order to have clients. I have clients in order to build!" - Howard Roark

"Hands are levers of influence on the world that make intelligence worth having." - Steven Pinker

Here are some other places you can find me:


:icondontknowwhattodraw94: :iconthewoodparable: :icongaffamondo: :iconorange-eyed-serpent: :iconanatotitan: :iconsharkeytrike: :iconspikeheila: :iconyoult: :iconchrismasna: :iconhimmapaan: :icondurbed: :iconeorhythm: :iconalbertonykus: :icontomozaurus: :iconpilsator: :iconvoidrae: :iconnicanorjourney: :iconlordkaizen: :iconsagekorppi: :iconchocolatestarfire: :iconscotthartman: :iconkeesey: :icondracontes: :icont-pekc: :iconmattmart: :iconagahnim:


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GameRulrr Featured By Owner 4 days ago
I want to know what program you use to make your art. If you use a program that is. I really love your art and think it's amazing. I hope it's okay if I use one of them for my avatar. Keep up the awesome work.
WhiskerfaceRumpel Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I missed it!   

Happy belated birthday!  I hope it was a truly awesome day for you.  :cake:  :cake:   
Smnt2000 Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Dang it, I didn't have the time to write this: happy birthday Emily!
FlailingFishy Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Happy Hatching Day!
LordOfstamps Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2015
Happy birthday!
EthanRedOtter Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2015  Student Writer
Super Fantastic Golden Platter Cake 3D Happy birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!Super Fantastic Golden Platter Cake 3D 
Tarturus Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Happy birthday.
raptorkil Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2015  Hobbyist Filmographer
TyrannosaurusWreckx Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2015  New Deviant Hobbyist General Artist
Happy Birthday! KimRaiFan's Bday Cake 
Komar4 Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2015  Student General Artist
All the best! :la:
palaeorigamipete Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
elloooo! happy birthday Emily!
Angrydinobirds Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2015  Hobbyist
Happy Birthday! :)
Myuniverseinabox Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy Birthday!
DinoBirdMan Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2015  Student Artist
Happy birthday! :) :party: :cake:
alvringer Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Happy Birthday! :D :cake: :party:
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