How This Reconstruction "Evolved"

With my fourth attempt at a reconstruction of Murraburrasaurus langdoni, I thought it might be interesting to see how my view of Muttaburrasaurus has changed over the years.

This was my first attempt. My method of rendering shadow was rough (but still interesting I think). I had little knowledge of the bones at the time, so the head is too big for a start. The presence of a thumb spike reflects the view at the time of Muttaburrasaurus being an Iguanodontid. The first skull lacked the front most region, so it was thought that the nasal bulla (the bump on the nose) curved smoothly to the end of the snout as in Iguanodon orientalis (now known as Altirhinus orientalis). I used a reconstruction of a hadrosaur to determine the pose, so the downflex in the spinal column behind the neck is probably too extreme for a supposed Iguanodontid.

My method of rendering shadow has improved some what, and my illustrating style has changed (I had switched from using mainly lines to mainly dots). The head is still too large, however the thumb spike has been removed. At this time Muttaburrasaurus is no longer considered Iguanodontian, but rather a basal ornithopod more "primitive" than Tenontosaurus. This is a much leaner beast, looking somewhat like a giant Hypsilophodontid. The hadrosaurian down-flex in the spinal column has been smoothed out.

The discovery of the second Muttaburrasaurus skull seems to show that the nasal bulla did not curve smoothly to the end of the snout, but rather terminates at the snout with a sudden down turn. This is a large, heavy beast again. The head has been reduced in size. The forepaws have five fingers (a primitive condition amongst large ornithopods). My illustrating style is now a mixture of both lines and dots. I have added the mean-looking heavy brows over the eyes that most ornithopods (and indeed many ornithischians) had.

After a complete re-evaluation of my skeletal reconstruction, I finally managed to get the various skeletal elements at the same scale. The head is much smaller than previously illustrated (although it should be the right size now). I have abandoned ink in favour of pencil. I suspect even this illustration will need to be changed as the Muttaburrasaurus material is fully prepared. The Queensland Museum is in the process of creating a new skeletal mount (the existing one still has the old head, and has a spike on its thumb). When it is complete I may discover errors in this illustration - such as the hands which I have mostly guessed at.
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