North America, Judith River Formation
Named from a single tooth in 1856, for many years this enigmatic little dinosaur defied exact classification, being considered first a lizard, then a megalosaurid and even a pachycephalosaur, its unusual tooth morphology consistent with an omnivorous diet. Since then it has been firmly established that Troodon formosus was in fact a small theropod dinosaur of a lineage extremely close to birds. Subsequent fossil discoveries have shown that Troodon possessed large eyes with reasonable depth perception, ideal for nocturnal hunting. With feathers, and a small sickle claw on the second toe of each foot, it was similar to its close relatives the dromaeosaurids.
The moist coastal forests of Late Cretaceous North America would have looked superficially similar to many forests today. Conifers (Taxoidium sp.) give way to broadleaf trees Ficus (figs) and Fagus (beech). Epiphytes grow on fallen debris, ferns and cycads grow as understorey plants. Many angiosperm varieties grow alongside. Palms, laurels and Erlingdorfia (sycamore) are illustrated.
Originally painted in 1996/7 and used for a poster by The Dinosaur Society UK. In 2018 I updated the image to depict the dinosaurs’ feather integument.
Acrylic on board.
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