Emily Willoughby

Paleoart and bird illustration

Eosinopteryx January 2013

Medium: Photoshop CS4
Time taken: ~40 hours
Published in: Phenomena
High-resolution: Purchase Print

This is my rendition of Eosinopteryx brevipenna, the new troodontid described last week in Nature Communications. This tiny feathery, from the Late Jurassic Tiaojishan formation of Liaoning, China, differs from other basal troodontids in that it lacked the long feathers on the metatarsals and pes that typifies related animals, such as Anchiornis. It also had much shorter footclaws than related species, and this together with the lack of "legwings" indicates it was very likely a terrestrial bird. The animal is also a bit unusual in that its tail is rather short and lacks any sign of retrices, which gives it a bit unusual and somehow more "primitive" appearance than its relatives.

Here, the little fellow perches atop a mossy stump, possibly the highest vantage point it was able to manage. The paper makes no mention of whether the ungual on the second digit of the foot could be retracted, but the fossil's second pedal claw is clearly larger than the other claws on the foot, so it's possible it was used to aid in balance as well as predation.

Godefroit, P.; Demuynck, H.; Dyke, G.; Hu, D.; Escuillié, F. O.; Claeys, P. (2013). "Reduced plumage and flight ability of a new Jurassic paravian theropod from China". Nature Communications 4: 1394. doi:10.1038/ncomms2389.