Deviation Actions

EWilloughby's avatar

Reflections on Zhenyuanlong

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!
Image details
Image size
1600x1151px 784.19 KB
© 2015 - 2021 EWilloughby
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
WinterWantsMoon's avatar
reflection is hard to do, you did excellent. 
69porgs's avatar
it him
fluffy boi
TimothyJudge's avatar
I put this on my work computer as a back ground :D
Love your work!
RaptorWings's avatar
I like the poo on the rock
RaptorWings's avatar
Looks like I could see it in my backyard
asari13's avatar
IThinkOfaNameLater's avatar
Favourite Zhenyuanlong out they, soo accurate, like a real animal.
Atlantis536's avatar
It looks like Anchiornis.
dilophosaurus65's avatar
He's sexy and he knows it (oooor probably doesn't, cause he's too busy attacking his own reflection xD).
bhut's avatar
It still looks adorable.
This is awesome!
AchillobatorPrince's avatar
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's avatar
The choices of your coloring for the Zhenyuanlong are splendid x3.
Daikaiju-fanboy's avatar
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's avatar
Hermosa representación, felicitaciones !!
Teratophoneus's avatar
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's avatar
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's avatar
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
RileyBenjamin22's avatar
Amazing work Emily!
raptorkil's avatar
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's avatar
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's avatar
This is trully beautiful! Such realistic drawing!
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In