Allosaurus fragilis is one of the most famous and easily-recognized dinosaurs. Practically every museum has at least one specimen, either on display or in collections, and absolutely every basic-level children’s book about dinosaurs mentions Allosaurus, usually accompanied with a picture.

Allosaurus lived in western North America during the late Jurassic Period, from 155-145 million years ago. Its fossils have been found in rocks known as the Morrison Formation. It measured a colossal thirty-five feet long (half of it being just the tail), making it the largest carnivore in its environment (Torvosaurus comes in a close second, and Saurophaganax might just be an unusually large Allosaurus). It was also the most numerous. More fossils have been found of Allosaurus within the Morrison Formation than all other theropod dinosaurs combined. In fact, we have so many fossils of Allosaurus, ranging from juveniles up to fully-grown adults, that paleontologists know more about Allosaurus than any other meat-eating dinosaur. In all likelihood, it was the top predator in its environment, sometimes (and appropriately) referred to as “the lion of the Jurassic”.

This drawing was the culmination of years of drafting and revision. As you can tell by the coloration, it is heavily influenced by the color patterns seen on the Allosaurus in Walking with Dinosaurs, but I chose not to make the crests red. The first copy was made when I was just starting college, and that stuck around in my house for a couple of years. Then, I changed the proportions and slightly altered the color scheme. Finally, I added greater textural realism and made the colors substantially darker (on the original and second drafts, the gray was so light that it almost looked white). The hardest thing that I had to work on were the hands – I just couldn’t seem to get them right. When I was volunteering at the American Museum of Natural History, I spent about a half-hour taking numerous photographs of allosaur hands to get the right proportions. I also decided not to make the lacrimal crests too large, but instead kept them exactly as they appeared on the skull – I call them “doorknobs with dimples”. I’m sure that I’ll get some paleo-related flak for my decision NOT to make the characteristic large shark fin-like crests in front of the eyes which many paleo-artists put on their Allosaurus drawings, paintings, and sculptures, but it’s my decision and I like my beast’s head just the way it is.

This drawing was colored using no.2 and no.3 pencils (which I almost NEVER use!) and Crayola colored pencils. I hope you like it.

UPDATE: A revised version of this drawing was created and uploaded in July 2020. You can see it here.

Categories: Paleontology, Uncategorized

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