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Microraptor Takeoff

By EWilloughby
669 Favourites
This is a complete remake of an old picture of mine, and is hopefully the last full picture for this creation/evolution book, though I know I've been saying that for a while. It's very interesting how much the scope of the project has, well, evolved since 2008.

This painting is, obviously, a depiction of Microraptor gui gliding down from a rock. It is a rock and not a tree branch because (in my opinion, at least) there is not yet enough evidence for the idea that Microraptor was arboreal, so it's possible that it didn't spend very much time in trees at all. Here it is chasing Pompiloperus, a species of early Cretaceous Jehol digger wasp. Insect-chasing was unlikely to be something that Microraptor did often, but as we can learn from All Yesterdays, animals commonly do things they don't do commonly, if you know what I mean.

This is old news at this point, but the main impetus for deciding to redo the old drawing was the Microraptor color study, which revealed a few finer points of the animal: that its long-assumed headcrest was more likely to be an artifact of smushed feathers in fossilization, that at least some Microraptor had a pair of long tail ribbons extending back from the fan, and most notably, that the animal's feathers were iridescent, perhaps shiny blue-black like a crow.

There seems to be some debate at present about whether Microraptor's legwings were typically held perpendicular to the metatarsals or more in parallel when gliding, so I painted them somewhat intermediate - a likely position for takeoff, I think.

This represents probably over 100 hour of work and is entirely hand-painted in Photoshop CS4. As always, a huge thanks to ~Agahnim for endless support, critiques and suggestions.

Be sure to buy the book if you want to see this in high-res! ;)

This will be my last upload for 2012 (perhaps my last ever, if the Mayans are right ;)). May 2013 be full of many featheries!
Image size
1280x982px 656.52 KB
iPhone 4S
Shutter Speed
1/17 second
Focal Length
4 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Apr 7, 2012, 3:15:00 AM
© 2012 - 2021 EWilloughby
anonymous's avatar
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PathtoEnlighten's avatar
Amazing artwork, highly realistic representation of an ancient animal and beautiful as well. :)
seemycriitersss's avatar
I love this art, it show dinosaurs acting like animals, and not monsters.
Filia-Secunda's avatar
I love your dedication to accuracy, to the point of fully remaking your old Microraptor picture. The difference is striking, and I think you've improved artistically just as our knowledge has improved scientifically.

Oh, and Microraptor is my favorite dinosaur, so thanks for giving it such a great picture made with such care.
Luspear-Soram's avatar
This is a really cool picture. Good job. Microrapters are awesome.
FuzzyKittenM's avatar
Great picture. I love how detailed you've made so many of the elements, it's stunning.
bhut's avatar
Wonderful colors, and the subject (i.e. microraptor) is impressively done, too!
Starfish2o's avatar
This is incredible! It must have taken forever to create this. It's cool to see such beautiful prehistoric animals that were put on this earth, into a realistic representation of what they would look like. Great job!
AnonymousLlama428's avatar
Is that a ginkgo tree?
velociraptor1282's avatar
Microraptor was a creature from the late Cretaceous Era correct? 
EWilloughby's avatar
Early Cretaceous, actually—all specimens are from around 120-125 mya.
ProcrastinatingStill's avatar
In your opinion why isn't there enough evidence for Microraptor not spending some time in trees? It would have been an easy target for predators if it was on the ground considering the length of it's wing feathers.
acepredator's avatar
Poultry bred to have long dragging feathers have no issues walking or running around.
EWilloughby's avatar
That's true with respect to speculative ecology, but it's speculation alone--empirically, it lacks the reversed hallux typical of all extant perching birds, and its claws don't seem to be strongly curved enough to peg it as a definite climber. In looser paleoart where I'm free to speculate I'd have no problem depicting it in the trees (and in reality I do think it's likely that it was climbing, at least some of the time) but for an illustration meant to be published in an academic text, I feel obligated to stick to a tightly parsimonious interpretation of the data.
ProcrastinatingStill's avatar
Actually the curvature of Microraptor does match climbers. www.plosone.org/article/info%3… But the fish in the stomach in that one speciman does indicate that it wasn't completely arboreal.
EWilloughby's avatar
Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Thanks for the info. 
River-rex's avatar
Did you know Microraptor may have been capable of powered flight.
EWilloughby's avatar
The jury's still out on that one, but the most recent analysis of aerodynamic performance in Microraptor indicates that it was probably a generalized glider rather than a specialized flyer. 
River-rex's avatar
Well, the orientation and position of the arms may have halted a flapping motion, though others think it was capable of an upwards stroke, but I like to think of it as being capable of powered flight with sturdy reinforcement, though not a very efficient one.  
Ornitholestes1's avatar
Do you mind if I use this piece as a stencil for a metals project in an art class? It won't wind up on the internet or anything; at the most it may be on display at my school.
EWilloughby's avatar
Sure, that's fine. I'd be interested to see the final product if you feel like sharing, though!
Ornitholestes1's avatar
Many thanks! Will do.
Think-Like-the-Wolf's avatar
what species of Ginko is that?
anonymous's avatar
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