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March 31, 2012
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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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: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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