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Eosinopteryx by EWilloughby Eosinopteryx by EWilloughby
Here is my rendition of Eosinopteryx brevipenna, the new troodontid described last week in Nature Communications. This tiny feathery, from the Late Jurassic Tiaojishan formation of Liaoning, China, differs from other basal troodontids in that it lacked the long feathers on the metatarsals and pes that typifies related animals, such as Anchiornis. It also had much shorter footclaws than related species, and this together with the lack of "legwings" indicates it was very likely a terrestrial bird. The animal is also a bit unusual in that its tail is rather short and lacks any sign of retrices, which gives it a bit unusual and somehow more "primitive" appearance than its relatives.

Here, the little fellow perches atop a mossy stump, possibly the highest vantage point it was able to manage. The paper makes no mention of whether the ungual on the second digit of the foot could be retracted, but the fossil's second pedal claw is clearly larger than the other claws on the foot, so it's possible it was used to aid in balance as well as predation.

Photoshop CS4.

Godefroit, P.; Demuynck, H.; Dyke, G.; Hu, D.; Escuillié, F. O.; Claeys, P. (2013). "Reduced plumage and flight ability of a new Jurassic paravian theropod from China". Nature Communications 4: 1394. doi:10.1038/ncomms2389.
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:iconhannahmcgill:
hannahmcgill Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Too few paleo artists want to display ancient creatures in such flattering colors with soft textures. :)
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:iconfishofglass:
fishofglass Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014
so good!
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:iconstrawberry-fantasies:
Strawberry-Fantasies Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Gorgeous. <3
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:iconstudiospectre:
StudioSpectre Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
Frickin love it!
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:iconangelotheweasel4227:
Angelotheweasel4227 Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
...and here we come to the missing link between birds and reptiles...
Yep, definetly facing this one:+fav:
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:iconpierredelarge:
PierreDeLarge Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2013
One of my favourite dinosaurs. Well, my favourites are swans, crows (especially ravens) and parrots so I am a man of simply tastes. Though I do adore all maniraptors!
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:iconwhiskerfacerumpel:
WhiskerfaceRumpel Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I just love all the pretty colors in this! 
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:iconjacquelinerae:
JacquelineRae Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2013
Amazing! I love the colors in this one. I like your paleo-illustrations - they seem very accurate and highly detailed, yet still express a lot of creativity.
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:iconhalbatroz:
Halbatroz Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2013
Great work! =D
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:iconthink-like-the-wolf:
Think-Like-the-Wolf Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
Reminds me of a roadrunner. Could it have had some flight capabilities, as in "extended" jumps to escape predators?
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2013  Professional General Artist
Roadrunners definitely are rather deinonychosaurine-looking birds. I do imagine that the extended feathers on the legs and arms could be utilized in something like WAIR stabilizing jumps and fast turns, or extending jumps, but I doubt that it had any significant gliding or flight abilities.
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:iconjoeyv7:
joeyv7 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013
Very cool style. I like the attention to detail and what you did with the shadows here. Nice retro 'field guide' feel to your illustrations, very unique :)
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks muchly! I've never had my work described as retro field-guide style before, haha.
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:iconsketchy-raptor:
Sketchy-raptor Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2013  Student General Artist
It's amazing how realistic your deinonychosaur art is. So much so, when I've been asked by friends how best to reconstruct a deinonychosaur, I always send them to your gallery. Beautiful, as always.
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thank you, that's very kind of you!
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:iconmarcoornithodira:
marcoornithodira Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Magical. What kind of tree is that, by the way?
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2013  Professional General Artist
It's based on Ginkgo apodes, with some speculative reddish coloration - or perhaps the reddish tinge is a result of the strong pink lighting... the viewer can decide! ;)
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:iconlisacrowburke:
LisaCrowBurke Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
i read about this discovery, very interesting stuff. I like your rendition.

I thought I also read that most of these related species were mostly free of feathers on their leg areas though. I recall reading about how one species was documented to have banding of colored feathers around its tail, and some were even mottled like calico cats. Really cool stuff :nod:
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013  Professional General Artist
Other known basal troodontids have longer feathers on the lower legs, such as Anchiornis, which had miniature "legwings" similar to those of Microraptor but smaller and with symmetrical feathers. Sounds like you're thinking of Sinosauropteryx, which isn't a deinonychosaur and not all that relatively closely-related to Eosinopteryx.
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:iconthink-like-the-wolf:
Think-Like-the-Wolf Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
What is the theory of how legwings were carried, horizontal or vertical? How where they used? As stabilizers or flight control surfaces?
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2013  Professional General Artist
Hmm, that is a big can of worms to open...

To directly answer your question, when it comes to "true" legwings as in Microraptor and Anchiornis to a slightly lesser degree, the verdict is still out on exactly how they were used, and how they were carried both at rest and during gliding. There's some debate about whether Microraptor's legwings were typically held perpendicular to the metatarsals or more in parallel when gliding, and the most recent study on the matter seems to indicate the latter, though I remain personally unconvinced. There is an entire section on the topic at Wikipedia with lots of good sources, if you're interested: [link]

That said, another issue at play here is the definition of "legwings", and whether that term should be applied to animals like Eosinopteryx and, more recently, Sapeornis. I, personally, don't think that it should. It's definitely neat that some dinosaurs and basal birds have elongated vaned feathers on their legs, but elongated vaned feathers does not a wing make. You know what else has elongated pennaceous leg-feathers? Most species of hawks, falcons and owls, which are definitely not using these long feathers to assist in flight. [link] [link] These are not attached to the metatarsals, granted, but the few extant birds that do have long feathers on the metatarsals are not using those for flight assistance, either. [link]

Point is: for animals like Microraptor, where the legwings are huge and asymmetrical (and asymmetrical feathers do typically mean, by definition, that they were being used for gliding or flight), we can infer with a fair degree of certainty what they were being used for. For animals like Eosinopteryx, though, all bets are off - they could be used for anything or nothing at all.
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:iconlisacrowburke:
LisaCrowBurke Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Ahh I believe you are correct, that does sound familiar now. And I recall a brief mention of "legwings" too. Hehe.. sorta sounds cute like that. :)
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:iconcynderorangel139:
cynderorangel139 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2013  Professional
sooooo cute:D
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:iconjwartwork:
JWArtwork Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is gorgeous, simply astounding! :omfg: The lightfall, the reallism, all, just wow... :wow:
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:iconorange-eyed-serpent:
orange-eyed-serpent Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Very beautiful, I also really like how you made the eye look eagle-like. I also like the big fluffy broad feathers on the legs. :D It looks so odd for the tail not to have display feathers when I'm so used to seeing that in your dromaeosaurs. :P I like the background too!
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks. :) The pantaloons are based off the leg feather arrangement typical of hawks. And the eye was intentionally raptorial, glad you noticed! Your comments on my dinosaurs' eyes have really helped me to improve them, I think.
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:iconorange-eyed-serpent:
orange-eyed-serpent Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah, I thought the leg feathers seemed hawk-like. I'm really glad to know that my critiques on your dromaeosaurid eyes helped improve them, because I think they look a lot better now than they used to! :D
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:iconayceman:
Ayceman Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2013
Wow, this looks like your best work with feathers yet!

BTW, some recent news came about sexual dimorphism in a pterosaur (Darwinopteryx). The male has a huge crest, while the female is completely missing it. The article on novataxa is here (links to paper inside): [link]

It would be interesting to see you do a Darwinopteryx couple :)
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks! For some reason I've had several requests to draw pterosaurs lately... perhaps I ought to give it a go sometime.
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:iconi-stamp:
i-stamp Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2013
I bet it would be awesome. :D The hardest part for me is determining how much sub surface scattering the light would have through the wing membranes.
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:iconornitholestes1:
Ornitholestes1 Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Amazing work as always!
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:iconwanderingalbatross:
WanderingAlbatross Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Very lovely! I like its eye, and the rosy hue of the whole piece. An allusion to Valentines? :P
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Professional General Artist
Hah, I hadn't even thought of that! The rosy hue was actually a reference to the prefix Eo-, meaning dawn. This prefix is used in other contexts to reference the color, such as in the dye eosin, named for its reddish-pink coloration.
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:iconwanderingalbatross:
WanderingAlbatross Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Ahh, I see. I'm assuming that's the Greek meaning. Well in either case, you couldn't have chosen a better time to make a pink-hued drawing :P! What an interesting little tail it has.
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:iconred357:
Red357 Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2013  Hobbyist
want one :3
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:iconpalaeorigamipete:
palaeorigamipete Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
it's a bird! it's a plane! it's eosinopteryx! :D
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Professional General Artist
It's a bird! It's a basal deinonychosaur! It's a troodontid! Aw hell, we don't even know anymore.
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:iconpalaeorigamipete:
palaeorigamipete Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:rofl: either way, it's an amazing piece of work :D
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:icondurbed:
Durbed Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2013
This one has a style similar to your last Microraptor with the somewhat otherwordly atmosphere. I love this new direction you're taking in your art. :)
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thank you, I'm happy to hear that the atmosphere is appreciated. I've been told in the past that my paleoart often has a subtle "fantasy" feel to it, and that has always annoyed me a bit (like nearly everyone else, I've tended to prefer realistic paleoart). More recently, though, I've been entertaining the idea that this is a style I should cultivate, and this was my first concerted effort towards achieving it.
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:iconherofan135:
herofan135 Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Looks amazing, another winner for sure! :wow:
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:iconagathaumas:
Agathaumas Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2013
wow beautiful colors! you've definitely found an excellent style to work!
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thank you!
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:iconpuntotu:
puntotu Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2013
beautiful
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks Michele. :)
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:iconvitor-silva:
Vitor-Silva Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2013  Student
Magnificent restoration, Emily! Flawless anatomy and composition :clap:
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thank you Vitor!
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:iconelectreel:
electreel Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2013
Outstanding illustration! This was certainly the cutest chicken of the Mesozoic :D
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks! And I don't know, there were so many cute feathered dinosaurs from out of Liaoning that it'd be hard to choose. ;)
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:iconnolo84:
Nolo84 Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
"It also had much shorter footclaws than related species, and this together with the lack of "legwings" indicates it was very likely a terrestrial bird."

This sentence is throwing me.

Somebody draw me a cladogram!
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