When I saw the pictures, I knew I had to do something about it. Coinciding with a project I’m working in (let’s call it “Dinosaur Goredom”… and this is the second instalment… there are already many more I’m keeping in the vaults for later publication), the now very famous skeletal recreation of a 1896 painting by Charles R. Knight can be admired at the New Jersey State Museum and is simply remarkable… a specific picture of the two Dryptosaurus skeletons mounted leaping over each other in fierce battle.
I saw this in the internet (the excellent photographer is probably John Meszaros) and inspired me to do a fleshed reconstruction in extreme angles… not at all like Knight’s classical, seminal version. Knight’s did a First… a rare attempt to make dinosaurs look agile and not swamp ridden or tail dragging as far back as the Great Old Age of “paleo art”. Quite a contrast with Zallinger many years later, I must say…
In 1866 Dryptosaurus was found and it was one of the first carnivorous dinosaurs from North America ever discovered. It was named Laelaps by Edward Drinker Cope. Renamed by Othniel C. Marsh after its name became a “waste basket”, today is considered a “Tyrannosauroid”, related to Eotyrannus, about seven meters long and lightly built…. perhaps it might be also considered a relative of Yutyrannus .
I’m starting to address the problem of “lips” in dinosaurs… something that I had probably overlooked in many previous restorations, where the lipless, crocodilian smile was preeminent. Lips are advocated by many, if not most, these days thanks to, among others, Mark Witton and (even more extreme view) Greg S. Paul. However, an intriguing possibility crossed my mind while studying my foramina-ridden premaxilla cast of “Stan” the T. rex: the jaws had lizard-like lips like those of varanids? Or perhaps something else? I might be correcting some of the old artwork and proposing new ideas in the future. One thing is obvious: A Tyrannosaurus like “Stan” couldn’t have possibly shown those extremely long and prominent teeth… the roots have clear marks that show where they were inside the sockets; add soft tissue and only about half of the teeth would ‘show’. The thing is: would the teeth be completely covered as in lizards, or they protruded from some sort of gums and then the jaws had fused scales creating prospective beaks instead of “lips” as the foramina might also suggest?