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Reflections on Zhenyuanlong by EWilloughby Reflections on Zhenyuanlong by EWilloughby
Zhenyuanlong suni is a new dromaeosaur just recently described by Steve Brusatte and Lü Junchang and published in Nature's Scientific Reports (it's open-access!). This little fellow was about 6 feet (2 meters) long, about the size of its Velociraptor cousin, and was preserved with amazingly large and modern-looking vaned feathers on its arms and tail. Its wings are remarkably large and clearly show the same arrangement of primaries, secondaries and coverts common to modern birds. Some of these feathers even look somewhat asymmetrical, which in modern birds only exist for flying. So what on earth would a dromaeosaur this large be doing with wings like this, when it obviously couldn't fly?

Nest brooding, RPR, wing-assisted incline running are all possibilities, but the authors speculate that their most likely function was in display or signaling, either in courtship to impress mates, or to intimidate rivals. But all sorts of dinosaurs have been drawn displaying at rivals and females dozens of times, so I wanted to illustrate a somewhat unique idea inspired by my dad's encounter with a cardinal last summer.

This male cardinal would come to the same sliding glass door every day and try to attack his own reflection, beating his wings against the glass, pooping all over the porch and window, and generally being full of testosterone and ire. Glass and mirrors are unnatural and therefore it's not too surprising that an animal could be confused by them, but water? Unlikely, but let me paint the scenario:

This male Zhenyuanlong, when competing for a female, has just been forced to back down by a male with a better display. He's feeling rather out of sorts. Hopping across some rocks in a river, he catches sight of that bright orange crest and those striking high-contrast shocks of black and white in his reflection. On some level he knows it's not real, but seeing them just makes him so damn mad. Next thing he knows he's fuzzed up in full display, seething with rage and crapping all over the place. He'll show that bouncing light who's boss!
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WinterWantsMoon Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist
reflection is hard to do, you did excellent. 
69porgs Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2018  New Deviant Student Digital Artist
it him
fluffy boi
TimothyJudge Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I put this on my work computer as a back ground :D
Love your work!
RaptorWings Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2017  Student General Artist
I like the poo on the rock
RaptorWings Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2017  Student General Artist
Looks like I could see it in my backyard
asari13 Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
nice art
IThinkOfaNameLater Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2016
Favourite Zhenyuanlong out they, soo accurate, like a real animal.
Atlantis536 Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It looks like Anchiornis.
dilophosaurus65 Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
He's sexy and he knows it (oooor probably doesn't, cause he's too busy attacking his own reflection xD).
bhut Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2015
It still looks adorable.
LLKoolJosh Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2015
This is awesome!
AchillobatorPrince Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Ms.Willoughby, I really admire your art, and I would really love an illustration of Achillobator, because you've seem to have gotten ALMOST every dromeosaur except for my favourite dinosaur. I would like it to be a lot like the painting you made of Deinonychus (the most famous picture you've made of it so far "the Terrible Claw") showing how you think the creature looked in life, I would like you to do the same to the Achilles Hero, the pennaceous feathers starting at the base of the tail and going all the way down. I'm so sorry if this comment sounds super demanding, Make it look however you want, I just wish for an Achillobator.😉
AcrocanthosaurusA Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2015
The choices of your coloring for the Zhenyuanlong are splendid x3.
Daikaiju-fanboy Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2015
I've never commented on your work before, but I figured I'd start somewhere and what better place to start than with the newest member of the dromaeosaur family to be discovered. We reported the discovery on an episode of the Prehistory: A Traveler's Guide podcast a month or two ago. Words can't describe the amount of thought and effort put into making this piece along with it's subject look lifelike, almost like in a Patterson Field Guide. A depiction like this would have been inconceivable a century ago, goes to show how things change over time. An amazing animal this was no doubt in life and I feel you captured its essence perfectly. 
a1b2c3e4f7 Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hermosa representación, felicitaciones !!
Teratophoneus Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2015
Usually Dromaeosaurids were depicted with a feather fan on the end of their tail, now this thing comes around, do you think that different dromaeosaurs showed different arrangements of feathers on their tail?
AlexornisAntecedens Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2015
I've thought about that. Maybe some did have tail fans running their entire tail instead of the tip, and maybe some had tail fans at the tip of the tail.
Teratophoneus Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2015
it doesnt need to stop there, I was thinkin of all srts of differnt display feathers, maybe some had such complex strcutures as peacocks or lyrebirds
Terizinosaurus Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2015
Nice :)
RileyBenjamin22 Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2015  Student Artist
Amazing work Emily!
raptorkil Featured By Owner Edited Aug 12, 2015
LOL omagad this is so cute XD reminds me of my iguana so much too. That little bugger has glass sliding doors in his cage, and every time he's in it, he'd do the usual iguana head bob at his reflection. Not to mention they also grow to 2 meters in size. I absolutely adore this image c:
SpiderMilkshake Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2015  Professional General Artist
He looks to be saying... "Why can't I be as pretty as Jordan??? I'm so mad I could just... just... poop on this rock." XD

Really awesome painting... It looks so close to a photo.
BUGHS-22 Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
This is trully beautiful! Such realistic drawing!
ImpirrenRyRy Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2015
I like the bird poop XD
ImpirrenRyRy Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2015
Did you make this yourself? If so, it's on the Wikipedia page and looks great.
FredtheDinosaurman Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2015  Student General Artist
So amazing! Keep up the awesome work!
SurfinStalin Featured By Owner Edited Jul 25, 2015
I love it, everything about this is beautiful
pilsator Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Entirely failed to congratulate you for your artwork on Balaur, so consider this a belated "Great work, Emily!".

This one's wonderful as usual too. Lü & Brusatte (2015) is yet another publication that makes me wonder how much our ideas of wing configuration in basal chuniaoans will be subject to change. Or maybe Anchiornis really was considering losing all of its aerial adaptations.
grisador Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2015
New paleoart ! Amazingly well artwork ! :D

Dinosaurs; they are 'bird brain-ed' too !
Unintelligent (Or not very intelligent) Theropods could be a good theme for documentaries

(İt will be interestingly funny to see a dumb Tyrannosaurus, to jump on its own reflection and get snapped by a Crocodile ! :nod:)
ZoPteryx Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Great work, I can definitely see this happening! :D  In my own experience, there's a Spotted Towhee that comes to my back window everyday and pecks at its reflection a few times. :)
anhedral Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Beautiful. The dynamism, left foot held just off the stone...the shimmering reflection...even the guano. Superb conception and execution, an absolute delight.
PeteriDish Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
the stones and water look so real it almost looks like a photomanipulation. great work!
PLASTOSPLEEN Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2015
Reminds me of a White-winged Cough with those red eyes popping out. :D
acepredator Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015
Perhaps how the holotype ended up in the lakebed?
namu-the-orca Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015  Professional General Artist
Such wonderful reconstruction work once again. I really admire how you manage to make your prehistoric animals look like living, breathing beings, rather than stiff example specimens only. Putting them in a complex environment and giving them something to do greatly helps with that. For this particular piece though, however much I love the story, it is an impossible one. Because while glass and windows can reflect very well depending on the lighting conditions, water does not. When you look straight down into water, at most you'll see faint white/light reflections of the sky and a darker silhouette of yourself, through which you can see 'into' the water. It will not show an actual reflection of yourself, let alone colours. Such reflections are only possible when looking at the water from a distance an an angle.
Midiaou Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Awesome restoration, Emily!
Xiphactinus Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Anayo-s Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015
This makes me yearn for the days when such creatures walked the earth.
Etomo Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015  Student Digital Artist
I saw this on your twitter yesterday and couldn't help but laugh a little bit. Animals going off at their own reflections is always so funny to me, and I hadn't seen a dinosaur illustration playing off of it before.

Adorable zhenyuanlong and lovely colors on the water and the rocks.
T-PEKC Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015
Gorgeous artwork, Emily! Easily one of my favorites.

I thought for a while what to say and how to comment on this piece, but the truth is everything said would pale in comparison. Maybe it is strange thing to say about any work of paleoart, but what really got me was the landscape and environment and the way you have painted them. The scenery is simply beautiful; you have done wonders with colors here and the play between "cold" and "warm" tones works perfectly. I admit that I spent few minutes just marveling at how skillfully you painted the rocks and especially the wet surfaces. The blue-ish and subtly violet highlights add a lot of feeling and atmosphere, as well as somewhat dreamy realism. Excrements are such a nice little detail.

There is not much to be said about how you painted the animal - it is a flawless reconstruction. Colortation and color patterns are really good and suit it well. The detail and feathers texture are amazing. Everything is much better than the official reconstruction which is making the news.

All in all, this is one beautiful and perfectly executed painting. A true pleasure for the eyes! :)
guilmon182 Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
"Com'ere you piece of shit-I WILL END YOU!!"
bh1324 Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015
Momments latter the Zhenyuanlong attacks his won reflection and drowns.

On a serious note, the reflection, the lighting and the pattern selected for the Dromeosaurid are all very nice.
Carlosdino Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015
My question when I have seen this new animal: Would be the feathers in non-microraptorine terrestrial dromaeosaurs like these?
JonaGold2000 Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I like how much the color scheme resembles that of Anchiornis. Great job. :)
ForvenN20 Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015
Absolutely beautiful!

Silly dromie xD
Dontknowwhattodraw94 Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Really beautiful work as usual. I like the behaviour you've depicted here :)
Alexanderlovegrove Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015
Excellent work on the shadows and the way the colour changes on the rocks!  Looks wonderful.
TheMorlock Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015  Student General Artist
Much better than that one in the news articles.
BannanaMonarch Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2015  Student General Artist
I like your scene's photo-realistic touch.
Tomozaurus Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2015  Student General Artist
Love how the feather patterns variously recall Archaeopteryx and Anchiornis without parroting either of them.
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