Saturday, January 29, 2011


The irony is that Therizinosaurus itself is known only from limb bones.

I must have satirized this before, but it's still a mystery: show anyone an image of a feathered terror bird and no one bats an eye, but show them a feathered deinonychosaur and they whine. Would these people argue that only hadrosaurs known to have scales had them? I doubt it. It's a wonder that they don't advocate we reconstruct Deinonychus as a skeleton or Utahraptor as bone fragments. There's no direct evidence to suggest they had skin or eyeballs or internal organs, after all.

Frankly, there's not a single shred of evidence to suggest that any deinonychosaur (in fact, any maniraptor) had an extensive covering of scales, while at least six taxa to date (Rahonavis, Sinornithosaurus, Microraptor, Jinfengopteryx, Velociraptor, and Anchiornis) show evidence of feathers. When even the MANIACs can't think of any excuses to write off feathered deinonychosaurs, you know you're fighting a losing battle.

Thankfully, such behavior appears to be dwindling on the Internet. A bigger problem with most (serious or semi-serious) reconstructions now is that even though they're feathered, they're not feathered correctly.


  1. Simply reclassifying all Aviremigians as "birds" would help immensely. It makes sense from a typological point of view, and while it's a simplistic and outdated system no longer used by pros, it's easy for random teenagers on the Internet to get their heads around. Try to explain phylogenetic bracketing, and people who have no real concept of how evolution works (i.e. most of them) will not understand. Saying "we used to think raptors were reptiles, but turns out they were birds all along!" might be more accessible.

    As long as they don't misinterpret you as a MANIAC of course...

  2. Good post! I wrote something comparable a few months ago, using the heart of Tyrannosaurus: