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Ornitholestes by ScottHartman Ornitholestes by ScottHartman
This is supposed to be the classic small theropod dinosaur from North America, but it turns out that Ornitholestes has been harder to pin down than researchers originally thought. It appears to be more closely related to birds than the allosaur-grade theropod that some thought. While it's not as close to Paraves as say oviraptosaurs, there are a couple features that seem to be "proto-deinonychosaur" in general, including the narrowing and somewhat stiffened distal tail, a sort of incipient "killer claw" on the second toe, and a vertical pubis. I wish more was known of the wrist and pectoral girdle, but for now they are speculations based on where Ornitholestes comes out in phylogenetic studies. Even at this stage of bird evolution Ornitholestes was almost certainly covered in a fur-like feather covering, and quite possibly sported proto-wings on its hands and tail.

Edit: Wow! This may have been the oldest skeletal on DA without an update, as it sat untouched since 2007. Aside from the usual repose and soft-tissue updates, I also tweaked some of the restored elements to bring them more into line with Ornitholestes place on recent cladograms (specifically the wrist and scapula). Mercifully the known skeletal elements held up more than half a decade later.
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:iconarchanubis:
Archanubis Featured By Owner May 30, 2015
Definitely different from the animal depicted in Walking with Dinosaurs.  I knew that the nasal horn had been discredited, but I hadn't realized that it had a proto-sickle claw akin to the raptors and troodons.
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:iconthediremoose:
thediremoose Featured By Owner May 2, 2015
The Tyrrell's Ornitholestes casts are actually mounted with hyperextended second toes. With Dromaeosaurus mounted in the gallery nearby, the resemblance is striking.
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner May 4, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
I can imagine. I found some photos of that mount - I like it!
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:iconpedrosalas:
PedroSalas Featured By Owner May 1, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
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:iconornitholestes1:
Ornitholestes1 Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Handsome devil, aren't I? :)
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Want to know a vaguely creepy coincidence? The updated image file I uploaded was titled Ornitholestes[1].jpg.

Cue the Twilight Zone music :P
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:iconornitholestes1:
Ornitholestes1 Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Doo de doo doo doo dee doo doo...There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to....Eh, never mind.
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:iconzegh8578:
ZEGH8578 Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2013
I didn't know it has such a confirmed "raptor claw", that is indeed quite intriguing. Is it lifted to the maximum in this restoration? As in - lift it any more, and it will break or cause pain? If the claw has grown this much by this species, it is sign that it has been an adapted feature for quite some time. How sure are we still about Archaeopteryx lifted toe? Archie's claw isn't even that much bigger than the other, which makes me curious wether the claw grows large first, or the toe flexibility, evolutionary speaking.
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I'm really sure about Archaeopteryx, seeing as how I've personally spent hours examining the specimen in question (the Thermopolis Specimen). I'm only working from photographs and measurements on Ornitholestes, so I'm not as sure about the range of motion, but I suspect it can extend at least a bit more (though perhaps not to where it would be comfortable to carry around).

It's always possible that Archaeopteryx had secondarily reduced the size of the claw. Or perhaps whatever initial function they had (e.g. prey acquisition) soon led to a wide range of morphs as the toe was adapted to different lifestyles. As I think I mentioned in response to someone else, even some oviraptorids seem to show evidence of the toe proportions (shortened digit 2 with subequal 3 & 4), despite lacking the ability to hyperextend the second toe (and not having a scythe claw).

Another thing people may not be giving enough consideration to is how often theropods manipulated objects with their feet. As the hands became more incorporated into the wing (or reduced in some large theropods) pedal manipulation may have become more common...it certainly works for living theropods.
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:iconzegh8578:
ZEGH8578 Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2013
Indeed, I had not thought much about foot-manipulation - then again, I feel most people have ignored theropod hands in general, leaving them hanging there like useless appendages, while evidence suggest otherwise - such as simply: Large hands. Even comparatively small hands, such as carnosaurid hands are still large, and clearly had to be used for something. In yet another un-scanned drawing of a megalosaurid, I wanted to add a subtle attention to that, by showing it curling its fingers inwards - instead of just leaving them hanging - so to suggest that it is moving and curling and stretching its fingers while walking, kindov like a bored person tapping fingers against the desk :D
Lately I've also begun to imagine Tyrannosaurus mini-hands (which are remarkably well developed despite size) to be for communicative flapping :D I'm probably far from the only one with that suspicion, I'm sure!
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:icondinosaurusbrazil:
dinosaurusbrazil Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This dinosaur could be a raptor?
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:iconwynterhawke07:
Wynterhawke07 Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
It is an ancestor of the dromeosaurs and a member of the Maniraptora clade, but not a raptor in and of itself.
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:icondinosaurusbrazil:
dinosaurusbrazil Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for the information. :D
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
No, it's not a dromaeosaur, but it may hint that it's closer to the base of paraves than previously thought. Alternatively, the hyper-extended second toe might be distributed more widely than we thought.
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:iconamorousdino:
amorousdino Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Student General Artist
I read somewhere that this little guy might have been a very primitive tyrannosauroid. Any truth to that?
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
It's true that someone proposed it ;) I think Ornitholestes belongs further up the coelurosaur family tree than that, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.
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:icontyrannosaurusprime:
TyrannosaurusPrime Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2011
Is it me or did it had a "raptor" toe? :confused:
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
It's not just you.
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:icontyrannosaurusprime:
TyrannosaurusPrime Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2011
Ok then. ;)
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:iconcryptidsaurian:
cryptidsaurian Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
didnt it have a small horn on the nose?
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Definitely not. The idea stemmed from a displaced nasal, but further preparation of the specimen has shown that there was no nose horn on Ornitholestes.
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:iconjdailey1991:
Jdailey1991 Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2015
What if that specimen was a female?
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
What if it was? There's still no evidence of a nasal horn in any specimen, so until there is it's silly to illustrate one.
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:iconjdailey1991:
Jdailey1991 Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2015
What if the males had that nasal horn, except that all the specimens we've found were female?
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
That's of course possible, but it could also be true of almost any dinosaur we've found.
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:iconcryptidsaurian:
cryptidsaurian Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
ok, just checking.
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:iconeriorguez:
Eriorguez Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2010
Hey, can you tell me where did you place it in the tree? Basal to (Therizinosauria + Oviraptorosauria + Paraves), or just to (Oviraptorosauria + Paraves). Or do you not follow that distintion and you keep Therizinosauria as the sister clade of Oviraptorosauria? And, as for the claw, secondarily lost in Oviraptorosaurs, or just convergence between this and early tree-climbing paravians? Or would this turn out to be a (very) basal paravian?
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
The problem right now is that there haven't been many analyses done with the Falcarius data to really test what (if anything) should come between therizinosaurs and the oviraptor+paravian clade. My hunch is it should be further up the tree than therizinosaurs, but alas the matrix I'm running right now for a paper doesn't have Falcarius in there either, so of course therizinosaurs and oviraptors clade together in it.
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:icondinodrawer:
DiNoDrAwEr Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
I do not to question the scientific correctness of this reconstruction, but what about this little crest on the top of the snout?
I didn't follow the current researches so perhaps I missed some of them...
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
It's always ok to ask questions; it turns out that the "crest" was just the displaced nasal bones from the other side. We now know for certain that Ornitholestes lacked a nasal horn.
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:icondinodrawer:
DiNoDrAwEr Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
all right... I also looked up some reports on this topic and found the same... (would be strange if not... ;) )
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:iconrickraptor105:
RickRaptor105 Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2009
The original skull was damaged and so it looked like it had a little crest on the snout.

Later finds show it had not.
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:iconahrkeath:
Ahrkeath Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2009
I'd always get excited about seeing an ornitholestes, thinking it was a raptor, only to be disappointed by the truth. But now the truth would seem to be that it really is a raptor of sorts!
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
To be fair, the term "raptor" (which technically refers to birds of prey) when applied to non-avian dinosaurs is usually restricted to dromaeosaurs (or sometimes the group that includes dromaeosaurs and troodonts) and Ornitholestes is more primitive than either of those groups.

That said, it appear to be the type of animal we would expect "raptors" to have evolved from.
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:iconhenrik9470:
henrik9470 Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2013  Professional General Artist
it's the prototype of the raptors :P
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Perhaps in a very real way, yes.
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:iconhenrik9470:
henrik9470 Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2013  Professional General Artist
:) nice
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:iconahrkeath:
Ahrkeath Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2009
True, true; forgive my amateur lingo. Still, an amazing reconstruction. ^^
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:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2008
The proto-scythe claw, is that for reals?
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
It sure is real. It's documented in Carpenter et al's redescription in The Carniverous DInosaurs volume (also edited by Ken...he sure is prolific!).
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:iconqilong:
Qilong Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2008
Yeah, the claw is large, and there does seem to a bit of extra condyle on the dorsal surface of the pedal phalanges of digit two, but not as much as deinonychosaurs, anyway. More Archie-style toe. Still, I never get the idea it's a pre-dromie or sickle-toed critter....
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
I think it's exactly a pre-dromie toed critter (or rather, a basal maniraptoran). Paravians seems to have it basally, and even some oviraptors have the pedal proportions (subequal length digits 3 & 4, enlarged 2nd digit ungal) although no hyperextension or lateral claw compression in the latter. So my interpretation is that the Archie/Ornitholestes condition goes deeper into maniraptora (as it would have to if the condition is homologous between the two).

The whole "Ornitholestes is suprisingly primitive" thing is a load of dingo's kidneys in my opinion, but you won't have to take my word for it, Norell's redescription of the skull should be out shortly(ish), so we'll have a second opinion.
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:iconemperordinobot:
EmperorDinobot Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2007
This is an amazing dinosaur. One never truly knows what it is!
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