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Jeholornis in the Morning Light by EWilloughby Jeholornis in the Morning Light by EWilloughby
My final feathered dinosaur illustration for the book I'm working on with ~Agahnim, ~keesey and others. This is the basal bird Jeholornis from the Jehol Group of early Cretaceous of China (of the Jiufotang formation, around 120 million years ago). This species is meant to represent the original J. prima, though the tail fronds are based on the well-preserved tail of J. palmapenis, which may not be a distinct species.

Jeholornis was fairly similar in anatomy to the more well-known Archaeopteryx, but differs in being decidedly more "birdlike" in several respects. It had very few teeth, more well-developed shoulder girdles, longer forelimbs, and claw morphology that indicates perching ability. The hallux may or may not be reversed, and more likely than not is representative of a state of partial reversal.

The type fossil of J. prima is interesting in that it preserved a collection of fossilized seeds in crop area. It is unknown what plant they belonged to, but here I've reconstructed it eating the seeds of a fallen branch of the Ginkgo tree, which it very likely would have done. The morphology of the mandible, dentaries and teeth indicate that Jeholornis was well-adapted for feeding on seeds. The seed-eating lifestyle would allow more carotenoids to be present in the animal's diet than would a stricter carnivorous lifestyle, so I've taken some liberties here in giving it some slightly brighter colors on the head and tailfan, which was likely used for display.

It is depicted alongside the Jehol dragonfly Aeschnidium.

Special thanks to ~Agahnim and *Nambroth for their invaluable suggestions and critiques. :heart:

High-res version here.
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:iconjokercarnage5:
JokerCarnage5 Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
beautiful. great work;)
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:iconwhiskerfacerumpel:
WhiskerfaceRumpel Featured By Owner May 25, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is such a beautiful painting!  You have drawn such a handsome dinosaur surrounded by such pretty scenery!  

I know this is a few years old, but this painting is still so good!  
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:iconlipizzaner-kgirl:
Lipizzaner-Kgirl Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013  Student General Artist
He has such personality!
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:iconguardianwtj8:
GuardianWTJ8 Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2013
NO WAY!...this is so awesom!:O
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:iconrobotwezel117:
Robotwezel117 Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2013
Nice and really realistic!
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:iconimbecamiel:
Imbecamiel Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
;_; This is exactly the way I dream of one day being able to paint. So gorgeous.
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Professional General Artist
That is very kind of you to say, thank you.
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:iconblanket86:
blanket86 Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
This is so amazing and very realistic! Beautiful colours! :-)
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:iconcharlierenwick:
CharlieRenwick Featured By Owner May 21, 2012  Student Filmographer
Gorgeous work!
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:iconjurassicpark40:
JurassicPark40 Featured By Owner May 16, 2012
Too good for words!
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:icontacimur:
Tacimur Featured By Owner May 6, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Urgh, if you know the smell of ginkgo seeds... XD
The painting is absolutely stunning, from the little dinosaur to the ferns (seriously: how did you do them) and all the details on the foreground. Thanks for sharing!
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:icondbw13:
dbw13 Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2012
It looks wonderful hanging on my wall.
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thank you! I'm glad. :heart:
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:iconfatcaiman:
FatCaiman Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This looks fantastic. :D I can't even fathom how many hours of work you must have put into this. It certainly paid off, though. It looks so beautiful, I could just stare at it for hours. :la:

I do have one question, though. Why is the mouth visible only up to slightly in front of the eye? I see it's that way in several modern birds, but in the absence of a long bill, it looks a little odd to my eyes. Would they have had cheeks of some sort? Sorry if this is a silly question. ^^;
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thank so much, Leandra. :hug: I'm glad to know my hard work and many hours of a cramped hand and raging at Photoshop for being slow paid off. ;)

I think the mouth is only visible at the tip just because of how fuzzy its face likely was. Microraptor and Anchiornis also had fuzz almost all the way up to their snout-tips. The extending line of the mouth would be more visible if it were open more, or at an angle more parallel to the viewer. :)
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:iconfatcaiman:
FatCaiman Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for explaining that. And you're very much welcome. It DID pay off. :hug:
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:icondinorider:
Dinorider Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012
beautiful!
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thank you. :)
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:iconbahariasaurus:
Bahariasaurus Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012
spectacular!
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks!
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:iconcheddarness8:
Cheddarness8 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:) This is really just spectacular. Brilliant, as always.
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks Lauren. :)
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:iconavancna:
avancna Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
In "The Ghosts of Evolution," by Connie Barlow, the author suggests that ginkgo fruit were adapted to be dispersed by small carnivorous dinosaurs attracted by the stench.
Though, as far as I know, she had poor luck trying to convince modern small carnivorous dinosaurs to eat ginkgo nuts.
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2012  Professional General Artist
Ha!
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:iconavancna:
avancna Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
The "fruit" is toxic, and causes contact dermatitis. The author assumed that the turkey vultures she tried to coax into eating just didn't like being coaxed in the first place, or that they just didn't like trying new things.
...
Of course, there are only two modern organisms that will eat fresh ginkgo fruit: i.e., squirrels and elderly Asian women. Both eat only the seeds after preparing them in ways so absurdly, yet necessarily meticulous bordering on sacred ritual.
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
Lol. That is quite interesting.
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:iconavancna:
avancna Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
And the seeds are toxic, too.
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:iconimeribridzhet:
ImeriBridzhet Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Good
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:iconyoult:
yoult Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2012  Professional General Artist
Sooo... critique-time!
First, Emily, is that I'm just stunned by your recent development - every new work from you kicks the previous one so damn hard in the *** ... ouh sorry for the language! :D
I very enjoy that you paid attention to my comment on Microraptor: Jehol Juxtaposition about the ferns. This time they look nearly perfect, very lifelike.
Also the rest of the environment is well balanced and accurate executed. The different colours of the Ginkgo-Leaves, the shadows, the mossy trees, the hooked mushroom, the sunlight between the trees...
The Jeholornis looks really good, it hasa beautiful colouration and pattern. You paid attention to the eyes as I see, which some guys endorsed you, an really improvement.
Only part-negative critique would be, that I think the posture of the Jeholornis looks somehow crazy. I tought the tail would be better behind the tree instead of in its front. Also Jehol's legs look a bit crooked, as the animal will fall on his right side - but that's just a matter of opinion, I know how you contrived the scene and it looks good as it is. This are just things which somehow look wrong but maybe aren't.
Summarized: A wonderful rendition of a beautiful animal in an lively and reliable environment - an A grade in my opinion. :)
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thank you for the comments and suggestions. I'm glad I can always count on you for critiques - even with work I'm very proud of, there is always room for improvement.

The pose of the Jeholornis was somewhat inspired by the silly poses birds can often get into when eating berries, such as [link] or [link] But, of course, a Jeholornis is a much larger bird so I can see how it would look a bit ungainly. I'll keep it in mind for the future to achieve a better sense of balance with the featured animal in my paintings. :)
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:iconherofan135:
herofan135 Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Such an epic background! You rock at drawing them!
Oh, and the Jehlornis is awesome aswell. ^^
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks so much. Backgrounds are a pain and take forever, but I'm usually pleased with the results. :)
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:iconherofan135:
herofan135 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're most welcome. ^^
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:iconasatrart:
AsatrArt Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2012
I've finally realized that images have to be pretty darn large to start with to get such intricate details visible -- very nice job!
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks. :) And yes, working in high resolution is necessary for a certain level of detail!
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:iconlasochkafier:
LasochkaFier Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2012  Student Digital Artist
it's really amazing!
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks!
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:icongermanvisitor:
germanvisitor Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2012
What a beautiful sight of nature.
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thank you. :)
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:iconpilsator:
pilsator Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Whoa.
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
I hope that's a good "whoa". ;)
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:icontarturus:
Tarturus Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Again, excellent work. :thumbsup:
You've done a great job at making the picture very lifelike. ^^
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thank you very much, Tarturus. :)
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:iconshinyaquablueribbon:
ShinyAquaBlueRibbon Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012  Student General Artist
I love the lighting and colors here. It's like...eye candy...


By the way, what does "basal" mean? As in a basal bird? I see the word around but I don't know what it means. :\
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks. :)

Basal in this context basically means primitive, or more accurately, very near the base of the animal's particular evolutionary tree. Jeholornis is near the root of the bird tree, though the root of the bird tree is very fuzzy at this point in time (pun unintended). Basal birds have a variety of traits in common, many of them "holdovers" from their theropod ancestors, such as teeth and long bony tails.
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:iconshinyaquablueribbon:
ShinyAquaBlueRibbon Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2012  Student General Artist
That makes MUCH more sense now. Thank you!
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:iconforgottendemigod:
ForgottenDemigod Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Aww :aww: .
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012  Professional General Artist
Adorable, innit?
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:iconhyrotrioskjan:
Hyrotrioskjan Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012  Professional General Artist
Speechless :wow:
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks. :>
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March 6, 2012
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