Falcarius was a 12 foot long theropod dinosaur which lived in Utah during the early Cretaceous Period, approximately 139 to 136 million years ago. It was a very primitive therizinosaur – so primitive that it still bears a close resemblance to the coelurosaurs that it likely evolved from. It was almost certainly feathered, although the extent of how much of its body was covered in feathers is still unknown.

Falcarius’ fossils were found within the lower part of the Yellow Cat Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation. During this time, Utah was much more verdant and fertile than it is now, with evidence of rich soil, forests, and a much higher rainfall. Falcarius shared its habitat with the turiasaurian sauropod Mierasaurus, the iguanodont Iguanacolossus, and the primitive raptors Geminiraptor and Yurgovuchia. Other creatures who inhabited the landscape which have not yet been named include a large allosauroidean theropod similar to Acrocanthosaurus, an ankylosaurian similar to Gastonia except it was much larger, and another iguanodont ornithopod.

It’s possible that the genus Falcarius is divided into two species. One of them is F. utahensis, named in 2005. However, in 2014, a short abstract was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology which hinted that a second primitive therizinosaur had been found in the same rock layer which was very similar to F. utahensis. This might represent a second Falcarius species. However, it hasn’t been officially named or described yet.

Below is a drawing that I made of Falcarius utahensis. The drawing was made with No.2 pencil on printer paper, and measures 12 inches long from nose to tail (1/12 scale). It was afterwards colorized with No.3 pencil and Crayola and Prismacolor colored pencils. The color pattern was based upon the Eastern Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum) and a few species of rattlesnakes with similar color patterns.

Falcarius utahensis. © Jason R. Abdale (July 17, 2022)

Keep your pencils sharp, everyone.

Categories: Paleontology, Uncategorized

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