In Late Cretaceous South America, around 70 million years ago, an Austroraptor cabazai scavenges on a deceased sauropod.

Austroraptor was a dromaeosaurid dinosaur (or raptor) characterized by a relatively narrow snout and short forelimbs. Most paleoartists depict it eating fish, and it very well may have done so most of the time. But who’s to say it didn’t treat itself to something different every now and then?



A portrait of Giganotosaurus carolinii on the savannas of Cretaceous South America. This is the dinosaur that was touted as being “bigger than T. rex” when it was discovered, though some more recent research has called this claim into question (that is, it may have been only slightly if at all larger than the Tyrant King). Regardless, it remains a rather magnificent theropod dinosaur any way you look at it.

Brewing Storm

A rainstorm is brewing over these jungle-swathed hills in the Late Cretaceous. I’ve been looking at paintings from the so-called “Romantic” period of the 19th century, which often feature storms brewing over lush landscapes, and I wanted to try out that subject matter myself. The prehistoric creatures portrayed here are the pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus northropi and the sauropod dinosaur Alamosaurus sanjuanensis, both from the Late Cretaceous of North America.

Sue the T. rex


My portrait of the largest and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex specimen found thus far, the one called FMNH PR 2081 (better known as “Sue”). In life the dinosaur would have caught a bad case of Trichomonas gallinae, the scars of which remain on their skull. Not to mention numerous other injuries (e.g. broken ribs, a torn tendon on the right arm, and a damaged shoulder blade) and pathologies obtained from a violent predatory lifestyle. Sue would have been approximately 28 years old by the time of death, which is old as far as T. rex specimens go.

That Maniraptoran from Myanmar


This is my reconstruction of that feathered dinosaur whose tail was recently found in a hunk of amber from Myanmar (or Burma). Its identity is unknown, but may be a primitive member of the theropod group known as the Maniraptora. I figured that any dinosaur that would get its tail trapped in the tree resin that would harden into amber would probably have spent some time in or near the trees, so I chose to go with an arboreal (tree-dwelling) interpretation, as if it were the Mesozoic analog to a monkey or lemur.

The Perfect Shot

Rain pounded like drumbeats onto the thatched roof of the bamboo observation tower. It must have been the seventh or eighth rainfall Sid Francis had seen over the first two days of his safari. Supposedly, this was what passed for the middle of the dry season deep in the Musiyinti country. Small wonder they called it the rainforest.

Sid swatted away at a mosquito which whined dangerously close to his face. Already the little devils had marred his pasty Kanuck complexion with a bombardment of red bumps, each and every one of them an itching reminder of his lacking the foresight to bring bug repellant. Or maybe he had simply been too cheap. Sid had already spent a third of his living on a suitable new camera and another third on reaching here from halfway across the world. It was too easy to gloss over a variety of important little details in that kind of hassle.

“Are they here yet?” Sid muttered as he continued to defend himself against the insect’s harassment with his bare hand.

His guide, a lithe Bayinti named Masengu, looked up from her handheld GPS to give him a disappointed frown. Her ebony-dark skin, though decorated with lines of traditional scarifications, remained fragrant with repellant and thus enviably unblemished by the bugs. Not to mention, the brief strips of bark-cloth she wore over her bosom and waist would have made for more comfortable attire in this humidity than the heavy khaki getup Sid had to put on.

“Ah, fuck.” Sid would have gotten out his pack of joints to smoke away the boredom, except he had no idea whether the scent of burning cannabis would attract or scare off the local wildlife. All he could do was continue to stand here on aching feet, watching for anything bigger than a colobus monkey to show up in the mess of foliage, mist, and shadow that was the surrounding jungle. And maybe glance at his guide’s curves a few more times from the corner of his eye.

On second thought, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.

“Ever thought of a modeling career on the side, Masengu?” Sid asked, tapping a finger on his camera.

She thrust at him a glare almost fiercer than the tranquilizer rifle she had slung over her back. “You mzungu men are all the same.”

Sid laughed, not the least offended even if she had almost said the local word for white people like a slur. “It’s a compliment, trust me. A good shot of you would fetch as much as any tyrannosaur. Of course, I’ll split some of the profits with you, 50/50. What do you say?”

Masengu rolled her eyes with a smirk. “As long as you don’t ask me to pose nude.”

A deep rumbling groan resounded from the jungle. Except for the pulsing of his heart, every muscle in Sid’s body turned stiff as rock from the surprise.

“They’re coming after all.” Masengu was looking at her GPS again. “It’s a whole herd. Get ready, and stay quiet.”

Continue reading “The Perfect Shot”

Neighbors at the Museum


Ever wondered why natural history museums often display ancient Egyptian material (and maybe stuff from other ancient civilizations)? I thought natural history was supposed to cover studies of the natural world (e.g. paleontology, zoology, geology, etc.), not man-made stuff like what the Egyptians produced. But then, I guess it’s more convenient for people like me who like both Egyptian and prehistoric stuff. You get to visit both worlds within a few hallways!

Time for another art dump…


This would be a princess of the Yoruba, a people native to the West African country of Nigeria whose history may go back to the Nok culture around 1000 BC. They are the people who venerate the divinities known as Orishas, such as Shango and Oshun. Many of these divinities were associated with rivers and streams, so I gave her background and dress a watery color palette.
My portrait of the Zulu fertility goddess Mbaba Mwana Waresa, who presided over agriculture, rain and rainbows, and beer. She was said to live in a house made of rainbows up in the sky, and one story has her falling in love and marrying a mortal man in defiance of the other gods. Mbaba Mwana Waresa has been called the Zulu Demeter because of her similar niche in the Zulu belief system, and I put a pot on top of her head in reference to certain statues of her Greek analog (which also have her wearing some kind of bowl-like vessel).
 Apparently Stegosaurus had a longer neck than we thought, or so I’ve been recently informed. It was time that I updated my portrayal of this iconic Jurassic dinosaur.
I took an earlier sketch of two Tyrannosaurus rex play-fighting and gave it both a digital color job and a backdrop. The original sketch was modeled after a photo I saw of two young tigers engaging in the same playful behavior. I think of T. rex as essentially filling a tiger-style niche in its native Cretaceous ecosystem, so sometimes I like to give it tiger-like behaviors.
I find prehistoric humans fun to draw because their attire and way of life leave so much more to the imagination than their counterparts from recorded history. It’s almost like you can design them any way you want.

This woman’s pet is not the Smilodon, but another saber-toothed cat called the Megantereon which originated in Africa around seven million years ago before spreading to Eurasia and the Americas. I don’t know for certain if there would have been any surviving populations of Megantereon in Africa by the time anatomically modern Homo sapiens showed up 200,000 years ago, but I wanted to give her a companion that was recognizably prehistoric.

And yes, there is some inspiration from the game Far Cry: Primal here. You can even pretend that she’s a remote African ancestor of Takkar the Beastmaster if you like.

And now for a paleo-art dump…

sleeping-in-the-snowOn a chilly Pleistocene night, Smilodon sleeps in a little opening it has excavated out of the snow. Such dens, called snow caves, are dug out by various species of wild animals in cold environments, as well as human beings (e.g. mountain climbers and winter survivalists) who need some insulation out in the snowy wilds.

When drawing the Tyrannosaurus rex, I feel that one of the most important qualities to convey is its sheer power. I always aim to make it a real beefcake when it comes to musculature. The prize-fighter of antiquity is not a dinosaur you want to draw too skinny, believe me.
On a nippy winter day in the Early Cretaceous of northeastern China, the early tyrannosauroid Yutyrannus huali goes fishing through a hole in a frozen lake. Or maybe it’s just getting a drink since it wouldn’t have necessarily made for a good fisher.
Around two hundred thousand years or so ago, this early Homo sapiens chick is admiring the glitter of her gold jewelry.
Gold is quite soft as far as metals go, which makes it easier to work with using primitive equipment. We know Native Americans in various places were able to make gold jewelry and artifacts using stone tools, so it’s my belief that humans could have been working with gold even further back in our prehistoric past. They probably wouldn’t have ascribed any monetary value to it, but early hunter-gatherers still must have admired the shine of gold and wanted to decorate themselves with it.