I’ve been seriously thinking about letting Tet Zoo lay fallow for a while, as I have a lot on right now and it’s a horrendous distraction that I really shouldn’t spend time on. Producing long articles like the one on the Sakhalin Island carcass are very satisfying, but they soak up a lot of time. The day job keeps me busy, well, all day, and academic and editorial commitments keep me busy most nights – and this is on top of having a new baby in the house. Today I made a special effort to just go out on my own and waste time looking at stuff in shops, purely because I feel immense pressure to be on the computer and doing something whenever I’m in the house. What I think I’ll do is resort to ‘posting lite’ for a while. And speaking of which…
Here’s a picture I’ve been thinking of using for a while. It’s another Gregory Irons drawing from All New Dinosaurs and Their Friends, and it shows what is – to my knowledge – the only published life restoration depicting a ‘bradycnemid’*. You will note that this animal, wrongly labelled Brachycneme (it should be Bradycneme), is depicted as a gigantic (literally, 2 m tall) Cretaceous owl. Some dwarf nodosaurid ankylosaurs (Struthiosaurus) wander by in the background. Bradycneme draculae and a second form, Heptasteornis andrewsi, were named by Harrison & Walker (1975) on the basis of tibiotarsal fragments from the Upper Cretaceous sediments of the Haţeg Basin in Romania. The fossils were argued by these authors to most resemble the tibiotarsi of owls. Ergo, both taxa were identified as members of Strigiformes, albeit gigantic, Cretaceous members. This idea was soon criticised. Because I can now see myself elaborating and writing loads more here, I am going to make a concerted effort to stop, sorry. I will end by saying that the ‘bradycnemids’ have turned out to be non-avian maniraptorans (though not troodontids or dromaeosaurids as suggested by some authors), and that one of them – Heptasteornis – might be an alvarezsaurid (Naish & Dyke 2004). I’ve mentioned this before, but, ironically, I didn’t elaborate on it then either.
* This might not be entirely true as an unspecified modern-looking owl was also shown in a Cretaceous scene painted by Giovanni Caselli during the 1970s.
UPDATE: I screwed up, the pic of Bradycneme is not from All New Dinosaurs and Their Friends, but from its sister volume, The Last of the Dinosaurs.
Refs – –
Harrison, C. J. O. & Walker, C. A. 1975. The Bradycnemidae, a new family of owls from the Upper Cretaceous of Romania. Palaeontology 18, 563-570.
Naish, D. & Dyke, G. J. 2004. Heptasteornis was no ornithomimid, troodontid, dromaeosaurid or owl: the first alvarezsaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from Europe. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Monatshefte 2004, 385-401.