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UTAHRAPTOR SNOUT (IN CAPS!)



> One of the illustrations we commissioned for an upcoming project is
> Utahraptor. The (very well-read) artist has shown Utahraptor with a very
> allosaurian head and neck (no horns, but the same general shape). Looking
> at the cover of RAPTOR READ, I see very distinctive long, flat snouts on
> snaky necks, nothing like the drawing I seem to have just bought. 
> Steve Jackson

One of my favourite niggles. Why _Utahraptor_ is continually being illustrated
with the long, low skull of _Velociraptor_ continues to perplex me, especially
when the animal has been referred to the dromaeosaurine subfamily - guess is,
it'd be more like _Dromaeosaurus_, which has a rectangular snout profile. But
what does the skull material say? Not much, it consists (as best I remember) a
bit of a ?prefrontal - this shows that _U_. has a pretty bit lateral flange
that, from the side, would look the preorbital crest on _Velociraptor_. 

Err, maybe I ought to look at the description and get back to you... well,
later.

In their description of it, Bakker et al compared the curvature of the bit of
the ?premaxilla that was known, and concluded that the animal had quite a degree
of snout curvature, meaning that it looked something like the Ostrom version of
_Deinonychus_ (no comment). I understand that there's a bit of a problem with
this, though, but lots of artists have accepted it and consequently _Utahraptor_
now looks like a big _Deinonychus_ (best known of which being the Mike Skrepnick
pictures). Notably, however, the restorations Bakker did or supervised for the
Earth ish with his 'field guide' in it, and the utahraptors in Raptor Red, don't
have _Deinonychus_-type heads, but instead rather unique D-velociraptor
intermediate ones. Say what you like about Bakker, a fact is that he is a
critical and thorough restorer of the animals he describes.

The picture on the cover of Raptor Red is, IMHO, bunk. Uncle Bob winges that the
artist who did it didn't dissect any vertebrates before completing the piece (a
bit of Bakkerian philosophy for you), but look at the forelimbs and you'll see
it's not top notch.

Must dash, I've got a exam in structural geology. Hoorah! And it's snowing.

DARREN NAISH