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April 4, 2012
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Panasonic
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DMC-FZ18
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10/3200 second
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Jan 7, 2012, 1:10:08 PM
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Yutyrannus huali - Border patrol by Gogosardina Yutyrannus huali - Border patrol by Gogosardina
acrylics, photography & digital, 2012

124,600,000 years ago, Early Cretaceous (earliest Aptian), Beipiao, Liaoning, China

On a chilly noon in Early Cretaceous Liaoning, the roar of an unfamiliar Yutyrannus rouses the emperor and his entourage to action. With the previous night's snowfall melting underfoot, they confidently stride along the territorial borders to face off any potential incursion by rival predators. A pair of squabbling Beipiaosaurus are slow to give way to the imperial procession and a sharp rebuke from a lieutenant sends them running for cover.

This is a depiction of life in the Cretaceous Yixian Formation of Liaoning, China, focusing on fossils collected in the Beipiao district.

Yutyrannus huali (beautiful feathered tyrant), described in April 2012, is by far the largest known Yixian theropod and likely the top predator of itís time (a slightly bigger fragmentary cousin, Sinotyrannus, is from the overlying Jiufotang Formation).

Yutyrannus was basal tyrannosauroid, anatomically close to the Tyrannosauridae proper. At over 8 metres long and about 1.5 tons in weight, it was approaching the size of classic Late Cretaceous tyrannosaurs like Albertosaurus. The skull, up to 90 cm long, was decked out with spectacular ornamentation with triangular allosauresque brow horns and a long crenulated median crest stretching from between the horns to above the nostrils.

This remarkable species is known from three articulated skeletons. 2 of them are effectively complete and found in very close proximity to one another (inches apart) at a quarry at Batuyingzi. They represent a mature animal (the holotype) and a pair of smaller subadults. There are no signs of violence or scavenging implying some degree of social behaviour. _Perhaps a group of Yutyrannus of varying ages all died together on a lakeshore, perhaps succumbing to disease or volcanic fumes.

Oh, and they had feathers.

Between the three individuals, long filamentous feathers are preserved along the tail, arms, legs and neck. Feathers were already known to have been present in small tyrannosauroids thanks to the description of little Dilong in 2004, a contemporary of Yutyrannus*. With this new discovery, we now know that full-sized baddass tyrannosaurs were fluffy as well. Whiners who bemoan the absence of feathers in the Jurassic Park raptors can now do likewise for T.rex.

Yutyrannus is another piece of evidence that EK Liaoning featured a dinofauna that was distinct from the rest of Asia, one adapted for the unusually cool conditions of that time and place. Far from the stereotypical tropical jungle, mid-Cretaceous Liaoning experienced a mean annual air temperature of 10 degrees centigrade and was blanketed in cool temperate coniferous forests.

Throughout most of Asia during the mid-Cretaceous, big allosauroids were the top terrestrial carnivores but were rare or absent in the Yixian and the slightly younger Jiufotang faunas of Liaoning. In those chilly forests, tyrannosaurs in their warm feathery coats reigned supreme; a reign that would eventually spread to the rest of Asia and North America towards the end of the Mesozoic.

*One of the first things I asked Xu Xing when presented with Yutyrannus in 2011 = "Could Dilong be a juvenile one of these?". He quickly showed me that the largest Dilong (at under 2 m in length) was a much more mature individual than the smallest Yutyrannus whelp (over 5 m long).

OTHER CREATURES =
Beipiaosaurus inexpectatus
From near Beipiao city, this decidedly dopey-looking creature was a small member of the long-clawed therizinosauroid group. Prior to the discovery of Yutyrannus, this 2 metre long herbivore was the largest known feathered non-avian dino.

Eoenantiornis buhleri
From the same area as Beipiaosaurus, Eoenantiornis was a starling-sized enantiornithine bird with a deep, toothy snout.

Feilongus youngi
A mid-sized pterosaur (known from a 40 cm long skull) from Heitizigou with two low sagittal crests: one over the snout and the other on the noggin. Is from a slightly lower unit (probably latest Barremian) than the rest of the critters in the picture.

REFERENCE
Xu, X., Wang, K., Zhang, K., Ma, Q., Xing, L., Sullivan, C., Hu, D., Cheng, S., and Wang, S. (2012). "A gigantic feathered dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of China." Nature, 484: 92-95. doi:10.1038/nature10906

<update: 10-04-2012: extended feathering to the metatarsals based on the holotype. Early draft of the manuscript I used as a reference didn't mention pedal feathers - nor were they visible in the casts I viewed.>
Add a Comment:
 
:iconteagenmanning:
TeagenManning Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014
This, along with your two other Yutyrannus paintings atm, are some of my favorite pieces on this entire site. I especially love the beard which you gave to The Emperor.
Reply
:icontraheripteryx:
Traheripteryx Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
So many brilliant and lovely details! Amazing! :clap:
Reply
:iconjonagold2000:
JonaGold2000 Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ive seen this pic on the cover of a magazine, Nice! :)
Reply
:iconhomero13:
Homero13 Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2014  Hobbyist
<font><font>wow! polar dinosaurs</font></font>
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks, but the Jehol biota was far from the poles.
Reply
:iconhomero13:
Homero13 Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2014  Hobbyist
Yes, I was referring rather to your appearance
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Okay, I understand!
Reply
:iconsketchy-raptor:
Sketchy-raptor Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2013  Student General Artist
All hail the fluffy tyrant!
Reply
:icontessathedragon:
Tessathedragon Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
i've seen this picture in a dutch newspaper! O.O
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Glad to hear this picture is doing the rounds around the globe!
Reply
:icontessathedragon:
Tessathedragon Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
i can understand why it shows up everywhere! it really is an amazing piece that deserves to be seen by all eyes in the world!
Reply
:icondino-mario:
Dino-Mario Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I've seen this floating around the Internet.Now that i meet its author,i'm really really happy!!!
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Hey, glad you like it.
Reply
:iconsporemasterhimpo:
SporemasterHIMPO Featured By Owner May 26, 2012  Hobbyist
Really REALLY Cool!
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Well Yutyrannus was a really cool animal so I thought this image deserved the extra effort!
Reply
:iconelperdido1965:
Elperdido1965 Featured By Owner May 18, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Beautyfull artwork !!!
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Many thanks!
Reply
:iconpainted-wolfs-den:
painted-wolfs-den Featured By Owner May 17, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love the subtle color on the animals. It makes them feel more realistic than overly gaudy or overly dull reconstructions.
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thats exactly what I was aiming for - especially as these are cool-temperate rather than tropical critters I, tried not to overstate their colouration too much.
Reply
:iconpainted-wolfs-den:
painted-wolfs-den Featured By Owner May 30, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It really pays off.
Reply
:iconsofia-san:
Sofia-san Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
WOW this is soo nice!
And they could live thought it was all snowy and cold?

Now i want to draw a fluffy t-rex XD
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I have a half-finished rex painting lying around that I started over 10 years ago. Think its time to dust it off and add some fuzz.
Reply
:iconrpowell77:
rpowell77 Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012   Digital Artist
Nicely done, mate! I've been working on a piece for ca.org about this dino and saw this piece repeatedly while I was researching. I think your getting a decent amount of publicity with this image.
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks. The amount of attention this animal has received is phenomenal. Yeah, had a quick look at the ca.org competition. Nice stuff!
Reply
:iconwildartguy:
wildartguy Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2012  Professional General Artist
Oh wow! You did this? I've been seeing this wonderful image all over the place. Fantastic work, I hope all the papers and websites are paying you to use your image!
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks - well this was part of the original free press release package from the museum so this was more of a "publicity piece" for me rather than a money-maker.
Reply
:iconwildartguy:
wildartguy Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Professional General Artist
Well it's been excellent publicity. The story has caught on around the world (as it should), and its been on everything. It even made the TV news with your image behind the newsreader's head. Some jobs don't make any money in the short term, but they can make you piles in the long run, and there are SO few really good Paleo-artists. Guys like Dave Krentz, Julius Csotonyi and yourself are in a great position with all the incredible things happening in the field. Enjoy it! I'm going to try to get a few dinos into my own portfolio, I've been drawing them since I was 5, just not recently.
Reply
:iconpristichampsus:
Pristichampsus Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2012  Professional General Artist
I'd really like to know if polar ornithopods like the victorian hypsilophodontids, or the alaskan edmontosaurs had some sort of insulation, I mean, it would be at the very least logical. There's no such thing as a bald giant animal that lives in cold climates. But then again, I hear elephants can cope remarkably well with fairly cold weather, to what extent, I dont know.
Reply
:iconlordofstamps:
LordOfstamps Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2014
Polar hadrosaurs could have kept warm with a thick layer of fat like whales or walruses. Multiple skin impressions show that hadrosaurs didn't have feathers.
Reply
:iconqueenserenity2012:
QueenSerenity2012 Featured By Owner 3 days ago
That assumes that the entire clade must have been scaly. Integument can be quite variable within clades, after all. I do agree that they were probably all scaly, but I wouldn't completely rule it out yet.
Reply
:iconlordofstamps:
LordOfstamps Featured By Owner 3 days ago
That is not how integument works. Integument does not vary in modern birds at all.

Same case for mammals. Most mammals are furry with the exception of some mammals that lost their body hair but even then, they did NOT re-evolve scales. 
Reply
:iconqueenserenity2012:
QueenSerenity2012 Featured By Owner 2 days ago
Integument definitely does vary in modern birds. Areas that have reticulate scales (which is what we appear to be seeing in 'scaly' dinosaur skin) is feathered in some birds and bare in others. True squamate or crocodylian scales aren't known from dinosaurs. The type of scale we do see, the feather derived kind, is variable amongst modern birds and was very probably variable in extinct dinosaurs too.
Reply
:iconlordofstamps:
LordOfstamps Featured By Owner 2 days ago
Scales are only found on one area in modern birds: the legs. Note that ostriches did NOT re-evolve scales on their upper thighs. It just remains bare.


Your idea about hadrosaur integument varying is not supported by the evidence. We have scaly skin impressions from four Hadrosaur species. That is enough to conclude that they didn't have feathers. 

Reticulate scales? The scales of Edmontosaurus are not reticulate. See for yourself. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmontos…
Reply
:iconqueenserenity2012:
QueenSerenity2012 Featured By Owner 2 days ago
That isn't anywhere near enough to conclude anything. What if we had skin impressions from both African elephant species and skin impressions from the Asian species, alongside skin from one of the hairless mammoths. Would that prove that woolly mammoths must have been bare skinned?

I'll direct you to this article.
dinogoss.blogspot.com/2013/09/…
Reply
:iconlordofstamps:
LordOfstamps Featured By Owner 2 days ago
You're ignoring the fact that NO hairless mammal has re-evolved scales. We aren't talking about simple fuzz loss here. We are talking about fuzz loss AND scale re-acquisition. So far the only dinosaur family that we have concrete proof of that happening is in the later Tyrannosaurids. 
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks - this was such an awesome find I became kinda obsessive with the detail.
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
minor update: 10-04-2012: I extended the leg feathering to the metatarsals based on structures on the holotype. The early draft of the manuscript I had as a reference last year didn't mention pedal feathers - nor were they visible in the casts I viewed.
Reply
:iconmaxterandkiwiking:
MaxterandKiwiKing Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Fluffy Tyrannosaurs,FTW!!!!
Reply
:iconeco727:
Eco727 Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Saw this in the news! Great work man
Reply
:iconfractalfiend:
fractalfiend Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012
Great job! Love the level of detail.
Reply
:iconlensreflex:
LensReflex Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012  Student Photographer
Really impressive how much detail is in this :D
Reply
:icongorgoraptor:
gorgoraptor Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012
Incredible reconstruction of an incredible animal.
Reply
:icontimon-r-boese:
Timon-R-Boese Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012
Your great painting is also in the German media: [link]
Reply
:icondarthsantuzzo:
Darthsantuzzo Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012
Beautiful discovery, beautiful illustration :)
Reply
:icondurbed:
Durbed Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012
Amazing! thanks for this. Funny how the little ones are credited as "sauropods" in the media...
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Yarg... I just saw the "sauropod" caption. The things you read when you haven't got a gun!
Reply
:iconsinande:
Sinande Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012
Wait, sauropods? WTF?
Reply
:icongorgosaurus:
Gorgosaurus Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012
Nice.
Spike.
Reply
:iconpilsator:
pilsator Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
As I said, this is amazing work.
Reply
:iconpalaeorigamipete:
palaeorigamipete Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Incredible piece of work! =)
Reply
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