When Dinosaurs Ruled The Mind # 6: Dinosaurs Over The Years: Oviraptor

OK, apologies in advanced for the misleading title. I say I’m going to be reviewing artistic depictions of Oviraptor, but if you’re a dino-nerd like me, that basically means we’re looking at artistic depictions of Citipati. For those of you who don’t know, Citipati and Oviraptor are closely related dinosaurs, but the skull of Citipati was once attributed to Oviraptor, because the known skull of Oviraptor is heavily damaged. However, we now know that Oviraptor and Citipati were separate, albeit similar, dinosaurs. However, the image of Oviraptor having Citipati’s skull is so ingrained in the popular conscience that it is unavoidable. So, see this more as a review of both Oviraptor and Citipati.

Anyway, in this new segment of WDRTM, I’ll be looking at artistic depictions of dinosaurs over the years, specifically those who’s image has changed dramatically over the decades. I chose Oviraptor for the first one because it has suffered from inaccurate depictions for basically all it’s scientific ‘lifetime’.

Speaking of which, remember how I said the first skull of Oviraptor was heavily damaged?

I wasn’t kidding.

This led to some pretty odd depictions of the skull in the early years.

What is that even supposed to be?

We used to think this guy had a horn on the snout because of a notch found on the tip of the nose. A similar thing happened to our old friend Ornitholestes.

Join the club, egg thief.

Join the club, egg thief.

However, we realized with both these dinosaurs that it was just skull damage. This interpretation of Oviraptor isn’t very popular, but it has survived in some ways.

I’ve seen this image from dinosaur books in the 2000’s. Really?

It wasn’t long after this image was rejected that Citipati became basically synonymous with Oviraptor in the public conscience, so from here on out you’ll basically be seeing a bunch of Citipati pictures.

This is how reconstructions looked for a long time, lizard like dragon birds with the classic reptilian hand posture. To modern dinosaur fans this looks wrong on so many levels, but it is progress.

This guy may not seem very different from the guy above us, but  a significant feature is that the hands are actually folded like bird wings, giving it a slightly less reptilian look, and making it look more like a plucked chicken. This is basically the Oviraptor (I know, I’m still calling it that) we get in Disney’s Dinosaur.

Just cut off the appendages and we can serve this thing for Thanksgiving.

After feathers were discovered on dinosaurs, however, people began to realize just how birdlike Oviraptor was, so they decided to add some feathers.

Hmm, still not enough.

Not yet.

Oh, that’s just adorable.

Meh, that’s better.

It was at about this point that people finally began to see these dinosaurs more like birds than reptiles. But even the picture above doesn’t quite do it justice. What do we need? More feathers!

Now, people have brought to attention the similarity between Oviraptor and the modern day cassowary.

Wait, you mean to tell me that ISN’T an Oviraptor?

So many modern reconstructions paint Oviraptor pretty similar.

And I certainly can’t blame them.

But I think my personal favorite interpretation is this.

Like modern birds, the feathers fill out the entire body. It isn’t a lizard with feathers glued on the hide, they look like they belong. This looks like a creature that was actually alive once, not like the dragon birds we used to see.

So, it’s really amazing how this..

..turned into that!

And that’s exactly why I wanted to do this series, to show just how much our view of dinosaurs have changed over the years. And with dinosaur science moving so quickly recently, who knows how we’ll view these creatures in the next decade or two. I can’t wait to find out, though.

I know this was pretty short, but I needed a break in between doing a couple of big reviews. The next one however, is a doosey. I return to television to take on a show that has garnered a lot of hate in the dinosaur community. Is it warranted? Let’s find out.

Jurassic Fight Club is next.


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