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February 9, 2014
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Sapeornis - a weird Early Cretaceous non-oviraptor by ScottHartman Sapeornis - a weird Early Cretaceous non-oviraptor by ScottHartman
A mere 11 years after I originally put this together, here is an updated Sapeornis skeletal. This one came from the weird "transitional phase" between when I switched from pen and ink skeletals to doing them all in the computer. I'll probably write up something on my website about it in the next week. In the meantime, enjoy!
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:icondawley:
Dawley Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2014
Is it possible the shortness of the tail was due to stiff feathers that gave it balance, or is there some other weird biological possibility they're thinking of?
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:iconasuma17:
Asuma17 Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:iconnappaplz::iconsaysplz:OMG, It's the bird from HELL!

:iconvegetaplz::iconsaysplz: WHAT The HELL is that suppose to be!? A scientific experiment gone wrong?

:iconnappaplz::iconsaysplz: Uh…They call it a Say-pi-or-niss?

:iconvegetaplz::iconsaysplz: It's not like any dinosaur I've ever seen alive, I mean look at the thing it's like the mutant of the dinosaur world! It's got the body of dinosaur, the feet of a Toucan has fucking huge hands and a stumpy tail! That's no dinosaur that is nature gone wrong! If this thing was one planet Vegeta it be scorn out of existence, I bet even the creatures of it's time laughed or looked in disgust of this thing!

:iconnappaplz: By the way what the hell is an Oviraptorian!?

:iconvegetaplz: I don't know their suppose to be like bird-like dinosaurs with weird head gear on their heads and have parrot-like faces with the body of Gallimimus...

:iconhellyeaplz: Bet you that one of those things had a bad run in….

:iconvegetagrinplz: Hahahahaha! Oh Nappa your just to much!

:iconvegetasayshuhplz::iconsaysplz: You what else?

:iconnappaplz::iconsaysplz: No What?

:iconvegetagrinplz::iconsaysplz: Bet you a quick blockbuster ditch in Jurassic World!

:iconhellyeaplz::iconsaysplz: OH that would be perfect! LOL

REALITY CHECK

I've seen dinosaurs with buck teeth, sauropods with stegosaur thagomizers, tyrannosaurs with three fingers and head crests, raptors with double-sickle claws, pterosaurs with bristles for teeth hadrosaurus with horns on their noses and sauropods with the shortest necks ever, but THIS THING really does take the cake out of strangest dinosaur of all time!
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Protobirds are all a little weird if you ask me. At least it was small enough you could have taken care of it with a good arm and a tennis racket.
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:iconyutyrannus:
Yutyrannus Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014
Indeed it is weird, although now the weirdest dinosaur of all time has to be Deinocheirus.
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Deinocheirus is weird (I've seen the specimen), but it doesn't strike me as any weirder than your average therizinosaur. In fact it looks like a giant ornithomimid trying to BE a therizinosaur.
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:iconyutyrannus:
Yutyrannus Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014
I mean with the bizarre skull. Apparently it is trying to be a hadrosaur as well as a therizinosaur.
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:iconasuma17:
Asuma17 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
It looks more like an Oviraptor though and I know birds are dinosaurs, but this is actually a dinosaur itself which makes it weirder.

:iconvegetagrinplz::iconsaysplz:Yeah then skewer it up and grill it right on the Barbe

LOL!Luffy Anime Emoji (Big grin) [V3] 
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Greg Paul thinks it IS a basal oviraptor, but phylogenetic analysis doesn't seem to back that up.
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:iconasuma17:
Asuma17 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I love Greg Paul, I'd probably think so too since the head looks like an Oviraptor.
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:icondinopithecus:
Dinopithecus Featured By Owner May 12, 2014
Wow, those are some long arms for its size (from they way I'm looking at).

And of course, merely speculative, but the large black outline around the talons of the hind feet remind me of birds of prey (they have a lot of keratin around the bone cores of their talons).
www.ballstonspavet.com/site/me…
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner May 12, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Actually most birds have keratin sheaths that greatly enlarge the claw relative to the bony core - in fact one of the biggest problems with estimating the habitat from extinct birds and proto-birds from their claws is that they rarely have the sheath preserved, meaning we really don't know the final shape.

Perching birds also tend to have quite sharp claws (as opposed to ground-dwelling birds, which wear theirs' flat). Of course there also can be multiple uses to the same set of claws.
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:iconpedrosalas:
PedroSalas Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
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:icondarklord86:
darklord86 Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2014
Cool!
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:icondotb18:
DOTB18 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2014
I'm guessing that last bit in the title is a dig at Greg Paul and his... unconventional taxonomy? I have his book, The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, and his version of Sapeornis has so many little differences (particularly  a much deeper skull) that when I compare it to yours, it's almost hard to believe I'm looking at the same animal.
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
It was indeed a reference to Greg's classification in his field guide. To be fair, there's more of a story there. I first took a stab at Sapeornis in in 2002 or 2003, when it was universally considered to be an early bird (or proto-bird, depending on where you put Aves). I wasn't totally happy with it then but I only briefly revisited it until this major overhaul. In the interim Greg shared with me a half decade or so that he thought it was a basal oviraptorosaur. When I saw his version (still knowing mine needed revisions) I was pretty surprised at just how different it was, so I didn't know if he might be right, or if it perhaps reflected his own preconception. 

Now I should say that the skull of Sapeornis is disarticulated, so it's not as cut and dry as some other reconstructions. Now that I've gone back over it with a fine-toothed comb I feel pretty certain about my current interpretation, plus work on basal oviraptorids (including their brain morphology) makes a strong case that similarities between oviraptors and birds are acquired independently.

That said, comparing Greg and my versions suggests there aren't quite as many differences as the first impression suggests. The proportions are quite close in the limbs and vertebral column. He thinks the neck is a hair more gracile, and while he and I restore the pectoral girdle the same shape he places it much higher (too high) on the rib cage. So the main differences are in the skull. There are quite a few differences there - the most superficially obvious being the oviraptoresque palate (for which I see no support) and the tall premaxilla (with concurrently higher nasals). I squarely do not see support for either of those, but hopefully new specimens will eventually clarify the situation. 
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:iconchocolatestarfire:
ChocolateStarfire Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
La la la la

I recognize this critter all too well! *MY THESIS-COUGH COUGH*

It isn't online yet...*sobs* CURSE YOU! But this is such a nice skeletal depiction of the bird I studied Meow :3 
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Oooh, is there any new data I can use to refine it even more???

Err, I mean "Thanks!" :)
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:iconchocolatestarfire:
ChocolateStarfire Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
LOL Mayyyyybeeeee? It looks pretty accurate to me, tbh (given my sad illustrations pale in comparison wah wah wah)...I will be sure to send you a PDF when it pops out of the university oven...just note me as a reminder!

And you're welcome. :3
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:iconthediremoose:
thediremoose Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014
I'm wondering about the posture on this one. It seems to me that with the really short pygostyle-tail, Sapeornis would have used a more avian posture with a horizontal femur to be less front-heavy.
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
It IS using a more avian-style horizontal femur. Since in this older Greg-Paul-Style pose it was more or less sprinting the femur is still moving, but it's at full retraction in the image and hasn't come close to vertical.  That said, I do plan to update the pose to the walking one I use for other theropods as soon as time allows.
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:iconthediremoose:
thediremoose Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014
Ah. I didn't realize the left leg was supposed to be fully retracted.
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Understandable - thus are the perils of static poses.
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:iconqilong:
Qilong Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014
Shouldn't you try the "two feet down" posture for your birds, too? It would make them consistent with nonavian theropods.
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
As soon as I have time. This was needed for a commission and it took me all weekend (when not grading papers, doing outreach, or being a dad) to bring it up to date without changing the pose.
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:iconqilong:
Qilong Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014
Cleaning up is good enough! I was just curious if you intended to make the protobirds follow your biped rule.
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Yup indeed. Time is just the limiting reagent.
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:iconlikosaurus:
Likosaurus Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Looks like a chicken with more VISIBLE claws! Nice job by the way Hartman!
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks :D
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:iconlikosaurus:
Likosaurus Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Filmographer
You're welcome! :)
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:iconarchanubis:
Archanubis Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014
Talk about your Chicken-dinos. ;P
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Technically chickens are chicken-dinos ;) That said, this IS a true avialan (proto-bird in my parlance, "birds" to those who want to peg the name to Archaeopteryx), so it's not surprising that it looks very birdy.
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:iconiherduleikdragonites:
iherduleikdragonites Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2014
I remember reading Greg Paul's dino field guide a while back and being convinced that this thing was an oviraptorosaur. Now, however, I know the truth, but that doesn't make this thing any less interesting!
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah, Greg has been telling me they are basal oviraptorosaurs for a while. It's not a crazy idea, but at this point the phylogenetics seems to have come down squarely against it (moreover, against oviraptors being derived from flying avialans).
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:iconwynterhawke07:
Wynterhawke07 Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Looks like a chicken with claws.
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Actually, chickens HAVE claws on their fingers (at least finger number 2).
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014
In addition, I've eaten wings with claws on the first digit as well.
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I've heard that - they're more common on digit 2, but that doesn't surprise me, especially since Hoatzin have the first two claws when young.
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:iconghostinthepines:
GhostInThePines Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Never noticed that on any of ours... perhaps it's breed-specific?
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
They aren't really used, so perhaps it's not uncommon for them not to form? If so I don't know the frequency. They've been on every turkey wing I've examined, but I haven't looked at many live chicken hands I'm afraid.
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:iconmattmart:
MattMart Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Anecdotally, I've seen claws in pretty much every chicken or turkey roaster I've ever eaten, usually on both digits 1 and 2. Clearly visible in this pic, for example:


Wings (like Buffalo wings) are usually processed to the point the claws are either lost or intentionally removed, I imagine, don't think I've ever seen the caws on those.

The claws are small and I imagine it would be very difficult to get scratched by them when handling a live chicken due to all the feathers covering them up. People tend to draw pro to-birds with their claws showing but I doubt at least the digit 2 claw would be very visible except maybe in huge-clawed species like this, even with wing extended.
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:iconghostinthepines:
GhostInThePines Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Perhaps that's it... I'm sure with as many chickens as I've had to catch over the years, I would have gotten scratched with a hand-claw a few times by now, but it's never happened. If they don't always form or are even shed after development, it would be understandable not to encounter them often.

Even though chickens and turkeys are in the same family, turkeys are still a distinct subfamily found only in North/Central America. Despite the diversity of breeds, domestic chickens are all thought to have descended from junglefowl native to southern Asia.
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:iconlikosaurus:
Likosaurus Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Filmographer
I have examined a chicken wing before, it did have a claw.
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:iconwynterhawke07:
Wynterhawke07 Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Hmm... never seen a chicken with clawed fingers, but you're the expert so I'll take your word for it. 
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:iconlikosaurus:
Likosaurus Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Filmographer
They do have claws, they are just quite small and rarely seen due to the feathers.
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:iconwynterhawke07:
Wynterhawke07 Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Hmm... interesting. I'd heard they lost the claws as embryos along with the other atavistic traits. None of the chickens I've eaten have had claws either.
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:iconlikosaurus:
Likosaurus Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Well they do have claws, very small ones in their wings. You can find images on Google images easily.
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