Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Beipiaosaurus Part the Second

Cross your fingers--let's hope this sucker opens for you when you click on it. If not, admire it from afar. So basically, I took the low-res photo of the new Beipiaosaurus specimen and blew it up in Corel, then used my awesome new Wacom to outline the bones (as best I could) and point viewers to the awesome quills (blue) and throat pouch (red). Really beautiful fossil, but I wish I had a higher-res image! Actually, here's a question for you Photoshop/Corel experts out there: Is there a way to save the image without the canvas? I think that would make the resulting image a whole lot easier to see.
Editz: Yes, question from the back. Sean asks how much stock I put into the idea that the quills on Beipiaosaurus are homologous with those of Psittacosaurus. Honestly? Not a whole lot at this time. The quills are similar in that they're hollow, essentially tubular structures. However, the quills of Psittacosaurus are longer, thicker, and more flexible. They are also preserved only on the tail, although the fossil's uneven state of preservation might account for that. Here's what would convince me: a basal tetanurine theropod with feathers or better yet, a coelophysoid theropod with feathers. But then you'd ALSO need a basal ornithischian with feathers. Count thyreophorans out--I think they're covered (HA!).
Given the composition of most dinosaur skin impressions, I'd guess that feathers are NOT plesiomorphic for Dinosauria. These are animals with scaley skin and, oftentimes, armor. Would the feathers erupt from between the scales? I doubt it. Right now, I think it's safer to say that coelurosaurs developed true feathers, and psittacosaurs did their own thing.


Traumador said...

for disappearing the canvas, go into the layer manager and you should be able to make various layers invisible or transparent (i don't use proper photoshop, but same general type of program).

if that doesn't work just copy and paste your drawn layer into a new file, and you'll have the same effect ;p

Sean Craven said...

I'm not standing over your shoulder and so I'm not clear on exactly what you want to do -- but based on what Traumador said, I'm guessing that you want to be able to show the outlines that you did without showing the fossil in the background. Here's a little more detail on how to do what he said.

Go to the Window menu and select Layers. This should bring up the layer window.

Did you draw your outlines on a separate layer or on the background layer? If it's the latter, you'll have to do the traces over again on a new layer.

To create a new layer you can click New in the Layer menu. You should now see a new layer in the layer window.

To the left of each layer listed in the layer window there is a box with an eyeball in it. When you click on the eyeball you can toggle back and forth between having the layer visible and invisible. You should be able to turn off the visibility on the background layer so only your tracing is visible.

So what do you think of the idea that the quills on this sucker resemble those they found on that Psitticosaurus? How much weight do you think this gives the idea that archosaur integument might be more varied than we thought?

Matt Celeskey said...

Nice work, Zach! I've got to second what everyone's said here -- layers are by far the greatest feature ever implemented into any graphics software.

In the fossil renderings I've worked on, I tend to create an insane amount of layers just as an organizational tool—layers for the cranium, teeth, mandible, cervical verts, thoracic verts, etc. etc. I'm not saying that its always worth splitting things up that far, but do use layers to separate out the anatomy in a way that is meaningful for you. That way you can view related features in varying degrees of isolation, or (in this image, for instance) select all your quill lines with just a couple of clicks!

Peter Bond said...

Nice work Zack! I am very jealous of your new toy...