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Mei long is not always sleeping by EWilloughby Mei long is not always sleeping by EWilloughby
This is my entry to the current art contest at Hell Creek forums. The challenge for this round was "Year of the Dragon", which means that we had to draw any prehistoric animal with "dragon" somewhere in its name. So I drew the tiny troodontid Mei long, the famous sleeping dragon. I'd wanted to draw this animal for a while, so it was a good excuse to put some more effort into it than I normally would've.

Mei long is well-known from its beautiful holotype, which shows the animal perfectly preserved in a sleeping position when it had died, presumably from volcanic ash. The curled holotype is tiny - probably no larger than a softball - but many people don't seem to realize that it represents a very young juvenile. The adult animal was probably a strapping troodontid around the size of a duck. I've reconstructed two adult Meis here, a male and a female, running through a rare patch of Liaoning deciduous trees. The male is nearer to the viewer and is almost identical to his mate save for brighter rufus display patches and a reddish facial streak. Many birds, such as woodpeckers, exhibit a similar sort of dimorphism.

I wanted to draw this cute little troodontid doing something other than sleeping, for once. Even though its holotype fossil is one of the most gorgeous paravians to come out of China (and that's saying something), reconstructing it in this position every time is overlooking the beauty the animal surely exhibited in wakefulness as well. This long-legged, pheasant-sized troodontid was probably a fleet of foot, agile little predator that may've darted through the undergrowth and over logs, flashing glints of shiny feathers in the sunlight.

High res version here: [link]
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:iconmunkas02:
munkas02 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2015  Student Artisan Crafter
Cretaceous pheasant, yum
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:iconheytomemeimhome:
Heytomemeimhome Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2013
But I, retract my statement in regards to Mei long.
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:iconheytomemeimhome:
Heytomemeimhome Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2013
But your Eosinopteryx has bare feet? Also isn't assuming that all trodontids had fluffy feet like assuming that all owls had fluffy feet simply because you have seen a snowy owl?
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2013  Professional General Artist
When we have just a handful of specimens to go by, we have to make certain guesses based on what little evidence we have. I don't think that it's necessarily the case that all troodontids had fuzzy feet, but it's a reasonable guess, especially considering the possible Jehol biota climate. As for Eosinopteryx, more recent analysis has resolved it to be more likely outside of Eumaniraptora altogether. www.nature.com/nature/journal/…
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:iconheytomemeimhome:
Heytomemeimhome Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2013
I'm curiousness to why the feet are so fluffy did it live in a cold climate?
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2013  Professional General Artist
Well, it may have. There is evidence to suggest that the Jehol ecosystem of early Cretaceous Liaoning was likely to vary in temperature much more than previously thought, and may have even snowed occasionally: www.pnas.org/content/108/13/51…

However, the main reason I included fuzzy feet for Mei is simply that fuzzy feet, and possibly legwings too, are probably basal to Troodontidae, as we can see in Anchiornis. They are likely to be basal to Deinonychosauria as a whole and maybe even further down than that!
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:iconhaghani:
haghani Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
All of your works are amazing, but this is my favorite :)
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thank you. :)
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:iconcultistofvertigo:
cultistofvertigo Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2012
cyuuuuuute ^-^

Mei is always going to be a little narcoleptic in my head. It's just that such an iconic fossil leaves an impression, you know? Like when I think Velociraptor I think of it fighting Protoceratopeseses. Or how Hyphalosaurus is synonymous with two-headed. Or Dyzio.
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2012  Professional General Artist
No, I know what you mean. The Mei holotype is one of my favorite dinosaur fossils and pretty indisputably one of the most remarkable and beautiful. I'm sure I would have enjoyed drawing it in that cute sleeping pose too. :)
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:iconraven-amos:
raven-amos Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012  Professional General Artist
Just going back through some of my Favorite'd pictures for inspiration and came across this. AMAZING job on the coat patterning. Entirely plausible, and yet not modeled directly off any one existing bird or animal.
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks very much. :) I based the coloration of these Meis very loosely on the pattern of a male western spindalis, and the body shape is loosely pheasant-shaped, but I tried to avoid copying any extant bird directly.
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:icondamien-christian:
damien-christian Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2012
Simply superb: amazing lifelike image and imaginative reconstruction of an ancient epoch. A job very well done. Love these little troodontids. :)
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks. :)
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:iconmkmack12:
MKmack12 Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2012
they just got that kind of bird-like cuteness to them...like quails do. well done!
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:icontiaray:
Tiaray Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Two thumbs up. I love how realistic you can make your pictures look.:))
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks! :)
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:icontiaray:
Tiaray Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're very welcome. :)
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:iconmattmart:
MattMart Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Complete awesomeness. Definitely one of the best restorations of a feathered dino I've ever seen. The amazing job on the background helps too, must have taken ages to do those leaves!
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks very much, Matt!
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:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Wonderful! Its good to see troodont reconstructions that correctly depict their unusually short forelimbs.
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thank you very much! And thanks for the watch and fave as well. You do beautiful work!
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:iconhoatziraptor:
Hoatziraptor Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012
awesome
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:icontarturus:
Tarturus Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Lovely pic. ^^
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks. :)
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:iconsinande:
Sinande Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012
Sweet!

Hey, do the two of them actually have different sized tail fans, or is perspective screwing with me? :confused:
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012  Professional General Artist
Haha, I think it's more accurate to say perspective screwed with me. =p It wasn't really intentional, but it does indeed look like the female's fan is extended further up the tail. *cough* Let's just say it's another example of more sexual dimorphism, for some unknown reason. :)
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:iconsinande:
Sinande Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012
The good thing about extinct animals... :laughing:
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:iconsenav:
Senav Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
For some reason it reminds me of a quail or a roadrunner. So pretty <3
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
I was looking for this and now I have found it: [link] Truly the best dromaeosaur-quail on the internet. :D
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:iconsenav:
Senav Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Aww, that's adorable. It'd probably snap the fingers off of anyone who tried to touch it, but it would be adorable while doing so.
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
It was loosely modeled around a pheasant, but I definitely see the quail resemblance. I think it's the stripy face. Either way, I'm happy with that comparison, as quails are adorable.
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:iconjd-man:
JD-man Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012
I'm loving the coloration. Is it based on that of any particular living bird species? Overall, the drawing is very Audubon-esque ( [link] ).
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thank you! The coloration is loosely inspired by that of the western spindalis, though the body shape is more inspired by pheasants.
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:iconjd-man:
JD-man Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012
You're welcome!
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:iconyoult:
yoult Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012  Professional General Artist
You won't stop improving? Why you won't stoping improving?
Ah I know, 'cos you like to see our jaws dropping and our prehistoric-hearts jumping higher.
This is by far the best illustration of Mei I've ever seen, the colouration is simply beautiful and the feather-texture looks so believable.
I wonder what will come next... are you planning to actually clone a Dromie? :D
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thank you very much, Yoult, I appreciate the kind comment. I am open to critiques if you have any. :)
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:iconyoult:
yoult Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
Nothing to thank, it's well deserved!
Critique? Let me see, but there is not much.
You've done an excellent job with the textures, especially in the foreground and the Mei long themselves. The background also fades out quite well. I heard you're not happy with the background? Perhaps because of the lack of living foliage like Trees, Ferns and so on. But there must not always be so much plants in the background, in this it's quite well balanced.
The moving-appearance is not fully believable, if you understand what I mean. There perhaps should be some motion blur and flying bark-shreds behind the left foot of the female Mei. But I'm also at the moment not able to depict something like that believable enough for my taste, so I can't give you further advice.
You see, there are only minor critisms and most depend on taste. ;)
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
Ah, I'll keep that in mind about the bark-shreds for next time. Thanks very much for your input.
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:iconagathaumas:
Agathaumas Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012
Wonderfull
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thank you!
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:iconherofan135:
herofan135 Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Awesome! Love all the detail on the dinosaurs and the scenery! :wow:
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks! The scenery could have been more detailed, but I had to work within a time limit, so. :)
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:iconsmnt2000:
Smnt2000 Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Oh my, this is so beautiful. Amazing work, love the poses and the choice of colours. It looks pretty damn good ;)
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thank you very much, Smnt!
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:iconbensen-daniel:
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012
Lovely. Wildlife illustration of dinosaurs, so they look like animals and not CG monsters. I love it.
What's the thought behind the contour feathers?
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks, I always try to strive for a wildlife-ish look to paleoart.

I'm not sure about contour feathers, honestly. I think it's fine to depict them on the arms and tail, but I wanted to make the body feathers look intentionally ambiguous, but were most likely similar to the plumaceous body feathers found on Anchiornis and Jinfengopteryx (the two animals for which the feathering here was based on).
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:iconbensen-daniel:
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012
Aha. I don't see much detail in the body feathers of the Jifengopteryx photos I can see. How can you tell they aren't fuzzy like a kiwi's feathers?
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:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
I think they basically are fuzzy like a kiwi's feathers - plumaceous rather than defined contour feathers. I think Jinfengopteryx etc had body feathers similar to ratites, though I'm not 100% sure on that.
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:iconbensen-daniel:
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012
That's what I'll aim for, too.
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