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"Ashdown maniraptoran"
ashdown maniraptoran

The so-called "Ashdown maniraptoran" is a species of primitive birds known from a singlw, tiny vertebra, described by Darren Naish and Steve Sweetman in 2011. It's apparently from an adult animal, and therfore is one of the smallest known non-avialan dinosaurs (see scale chart below). Whle it's obviously very difficult to determine much about the animal from a single bone, it is clearly from a maniraptoran, and it has some similarities with oviraptorosaurs, though this identification is far from certain.

Soon after the announcement of this species, which Naish & Sweetman wisely decided not to give a formal name due to its fragmentary nature, I decided it would be fun to knock out a restoration, which I wrote about on my blog. Obviously, the restoration is entirely speculative, but informed by whatever inferences could be drawn from related species.

Much to the surprise of the researchers involved, the discovery of this little bone was soon picked up by the news media, eager to latch on to the "smallest dinosaur" angle. Naish & Sweetman responded to this unexpected interest as best they could, providing figures and interviews for the press, and most of the reporting to come out on the topic has been accurate as a result. I was more than happy to provide my illustration for the press kit. It has subsequently appeared in various print and online news sources, and was featured on the local BBC program South Today. Unfortunately, all this happened a bit too quickly for the illustration to go through a proper peer-review (well, deviantArt peer review anyway). I quickly moved to correct one error (for some reason I'd erroneously given the original a reversed hallux) but this older version is what has been widely disseminatd. Luckily it's a relatively minor error that's hard to spot in small thumbnails. It's nice to see my spur of the moment digipainting helping fuel interest in this little creature, or at the very least doing its job and illustrating what very small maniraptorans probably looked like in life for an audience who may generally be unaware of how bird-like in appearance we know now these animals to have been.

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Image Details:
Media: Digital, Adobe Photoshop CS3 with WACOM Graphire 3
License: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

DESCRIPTION
Length: 50cm (1ft 6in)
Weight: 165g (6oz)
Location: Ashdown Formation, England
Time: Valenginian age, Early Cretaceous (140ma)

CLASSIFICATION
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Stem-Aves
Order: Caenagnathiformes?

SYSTEMATICS
Sauropsida
Diapsida
Archosauria
Ornithosuchia
Dinosauria
Theropoda
Coelurosauria
Maniraptora

Ashdown maniraptoran scale




 

Peelback Matt Martyniuk 2010-2013