Stegosaurus stenops


Stegosaurus stenops
“Narrow-faced covered / roofed reptile”

Height: 3.1 meters
Length: 7.8 meters
Weight: 4.8 tonnes
Specimen Name: Marie

Stegosaurus is a household name amongst dinosaur enthusiasts both big and small, and for good reason! Stegosaurids as a clade have some of the most defining dinosaurian traits: dorsal plates / spikes and the thagomizer. The arrangement and function of the plates is a debate dating back to Stegosaurus‘ discovery in the late 1800s by Othniel Charles Marsh; he hypothesized the plates would be arranged in a manner similar to that of a pangolin, where they covered the entire animal.

This is where the name Stegosaurus comes from: “covered (or roofed) reptile.” Of course this restoration is outdated. S. stenops and its sister species S. ungulatus have somewhere in the neighborhood of 18-24 plates (depending on who’s counting) that run along the back in a loosely-alternating pattern after the first few on the neck. Here, Marie is shown with the plate arrangement based on the subadult Sophie specimen currently housed in London, which has an astounding >80% completeness!

Despite being comparatively smaller in size to some other herbivores that shared this animal’s habitat (BrachiosaurusBrontosaurusDiplodocus, etc.), Marie and the rest of her kind were rather successful, low-browsing ornithischians. The recent find of further neck vertebrae extends the stationary feeding range of this genus, allowing it to stand in one place and clear a larger volume of plant matter than it would with the typically-renditioned stubby neck.

[Most text recycled from earlier Stegosaurus posts.]

Artist’s Notes / Updates:

This Stegosaurus is one of many that I’ve restored, but this is the most active pose I’ve given one. She’s poised and ready to strike at a moment’s notice, so it’s best to keep your distance! I expedited a steg post because this animal plays a pivotal role in my upcoming short story Chasing Dragons (as do T. rex and Triceratops, but I’ll get to those guys…eventually).

The runny, blotchy pattern on her plates is primarily based on the extant lizard genus Heloderma–with some notable members including the Gila monster and the Guatemalan beaded lizard. I felt those spunky critters would be nice to paint her plates around. There’s also a very subtle set of spots and bands embedded in the greener parts of her skin inspired from alligator lizards (genus Elgaria).

I’ve updated my website to feature my newer digital pieces to reset my “continuity,” and I’m soon going to upload my favorite physical sketch work. Keep an eye for that.

Also, I have a new “Links” page that contains all of my social media as well as my Ko-Fi and Red Bubble. Thanks for your support, you lovely humans. x

Until next time!

Baryonyx walkeri


“See, not a T. rex!
“How is THIS better?!”
– Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, in reference to a charging Baryonyx.

Baryonyx walkeri
“Walker’s heavy claw”

Height: 2.5 meters
Length: 7.5 meters
Weight: 1.7 tonnes
Specimen Name: Leedy

was a medium-large(ish?) theropod from Cretaceous Europe. During its heyday, some 130 million years ago, this dinosaur lived alongside famous contemporaries such as Iguanodon and Neovenator. It is best known for having substantial evidence of a semi-aquatic (or at least water-lovin’) lifestyle. Many of its anatomical features point to this, from the pointed crocodile-like (or egret-like) snout to the giant recurved claw on its first finger that could grow to a foot (0.328 meters) in length. Oxygen isotope analyses (yes, even the chemists are in this) further suggest that Baryonyx and its spinosaurid kin spent more time in or around the water relative to other theropods.

These adaptations allowed Baryonyx to subsist on mostly fish, but the fossilized remnants of juvenile Iguanodon bones in its gut suggest it might’ve had a more complicated diet. This could either mean scavenging or hunting behavior, but I’m afraid I can’t really ask the dinosaur what it was up to on that fateful day. Baryonyx likely evolved to spend more time in or near the water as a response to a high number of competing predators in its environment (here’s a nice list of ’em). Taking to the water reduces the chances of conflict, and this niche partitioning story is very similar for (if not identical with) Spinosaurus and other relatives.

However, despite the long laundry list of reasons why and how spinosaurids would evolve a semi-aquatic lifestyle, the degree of which these taxa were dependent on the water is still contested. Recent literature on calcium isotopes and computer-modeled buoyancy (Hassler et al., 2018; Henderson, 2018) seem to liberate spinosaurids to more terrestrial habits, suggesting that both a significant amount of their diets were comprised of herbivorous dinosaurs and they were no more or less capable of swimming than less-specialized theropods. Both points are still hotly debated (more so the second than the first), as more direct anatomical analyses continue to point to living in shallow water (Ghilardi et al. 2018).

What we’re trying to tell you is that you should still probably run away from this thing in the off-chance that you encounter it in some derelict ranger compound with lava pouring from the ceiling.

Artist’s Notes & Introducing The Menagerie:

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a spinosaurid, and this is my first-ever digital Baryonyx illustration. I’ve been meaning to draw one of these puppies for ages, but I never got around to it. This is also my first post to the blog with my new art style. I haven’t abandoned the lineless, kind of molded look from my older illustrations, but line art and some nice rendering lets more personality flow through. Someone commented on my Instagram that this bary “looks like he’s [she’s] in trouble.”

This was originally just a practice sketch, but then it got blown waaaay out of hand into the dinosaur you see above. I primarily employed the basic watercolor, crayon, pastel, airbrush, textured pen, and rough pencil brushes from Clip Studio Paint. The pose is original, but I did roughly match proportions to Scott Hartman’s skeletal.

Now onto some not-so-real things…

For those of you who don’t know, The Menagerie is my passion project. It’s going to be a series of short stories and vignettes that culminate into a larger novella. I’m working on the first couple of entries, but the entire project has been around since 2014. It’s taken on a number of incarnations over the years. I’d love The Menagerie to be a solid entry in the “dinosaur island” genre of fictional media. However, I wanted to emphasize all the parts of this genre that I enjoy as a scientist. The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Peter Jackson’s King Kong are some of my favorite “dino island” sci-fi films because they showcase ideas of an anachronistic ecosystem. Likewise, the European traveling exhibit “Dinosaurs in the Wild” and the TV show Prehistoric Park have touched on a fascination of studying paleo critters in a modern setting.

So, I’ve hybridized these ideas. The basic premise of The Menagerie is as follows:

The United Nations has set up a research facility on an island in the Pacific that’s dedicated to studying the genetically-engineered fauna and flora that inhabit it. No one’s quite sure how these organisms were created or who was behind it. All that’s left are ruined buildings from the past that are mostly inaccessible. The UN’s fortified research campus, known as The Menagerie, regularly sends expeditions into the island interior to learn more about the biology and ecology of the extinct critters. Hijinks ensue from mysterious venomous dinosaurs to trying to round up and capture the world’s last T. rex.

The Menagerie will focus on a unique perspective. Many entries in the “dino island” genre focus on the hubris of mankind and what happens when things go wrong. Well, what happens when things go right? This series promises to bring an exciting and thoughtful plot that aims to educate and entertain.

Keep an eye out for the first two short stories: Poison Kiss and Chasing Dragons.

The Paint Paddock website will be home to my writing. If you’re interested, please stay tuned!

Until next time.