Conchoraptor, meaning “shell robber”, was a small bird-like dinosaur barely measuring 5 feet long. Its fossils were discovered in 1971 within the rocks of the Nemegt Formation of Mongolia, but they were believed to belong to its more well-known relative Oviraptor. It wasn’t until the 1980s that paleontologists realized that they belonged to a new species, and it was officially named in 1986. The name was based upon the idea (supported by minimal evidence) that its strongly-built beak was used to crack open mollusk shells.
Conchoraptor was just one of several feathered theropod dinosaurs which lived in Mongolia during the late Cretaceous Period about 70 million years ago. By that point, iconic late Cretaceous Mongolian dinosaurs like Protoceratops, Oviraptor, and Velociraptor had long gone extinct, and had been replaced by other dinosaur species. Conchoraptor shared its habitat with the tyrannosaurs Alioramus and Tarbosaurus, the dromaeosaurid raptor Adasaurus, the alverezsaur Mononykus, the giant therizinosaur Therizinosaurus, the ornithomimosaurs Gallimimus and Deinocheirus, the hadrosaurs Saurolophus and Shangtungosaurus, the pachycephalosaur Homalocephale, and the ankylosaurs Tarchia and Saichania.
Several large cavities were present on the top of Conchoraptor’s skull, which possibly served as the anchor for a fleshy display structure similar to a rooster’s comb.
The drawing that you see below was made with No.2 pencil and colored pencils on printer paper. The rooster’s comb and the wattles are artistic conjecture.
Conchoraptor gracilis. © Jason R. Abdale (October 9, 2022).
Keep your pencils sharp, everyone.
I love how you illustrated this fascinating animal! I think the coloration looks very plausible and attractive, and the bare skin and wattles work very well for a creature in a hot environment. Naked-neck chickens are purported to do very well in the Texas sun and heat, and though I’ve never owned one, I’ve heard that they have no issues with sun burn, so this feathering is certainly possible. Perhaps it was the chicken-like expression on the creature’s face, or the combination of traits are simply delightful in their plausibility and overall aesthetic…this made me smile. 🙂
Thank you for also providing a mental picture of what other animals also lived in this area. It’s also good to have context for where an animal lived.