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Three Styles for A Feathered Tyrannosaurus by Osmatar Three Styles for A Feathered Tyrannosaurus by Osmatar
In 2014 I made this sketch of a feathered tyrannosaurus intending to eventually follow it up with a proper illustration. I never did, so when the new Bell et al. (2017) Tyrannosaur integument paper came out, I though it was the perfect opportunity to make use of the concept. I only planned a single quick one, but in the end ended up doing three different variants, because there are so many ways you could coat Tyrannosaurus in feathers even taking into account the areas that seem to have had scaly skin. 

The top Tyrannosaurus still leaves plenty of room for scales, assuming the Wyrex neck patch comes from the ventral side, or doesn't represent an exclusively scaly region. The feathers on the arms and the lower jaw are ornamental, in the latter case exaggerating the size of the already massive pterygoideus ventralis. The middle and bottom individuals show greater reduction in feathers, with head and neck feathers corresponding to what is seen in some tropical birds. What has been retained still offers protection against the sun, and may aid in cooling. Whether tyrannosauroids had feather types that (like neornithean feathers) would have been considerably more effective at protection from overheating than mammalian hair is uncertain, but even small and sparse filaments offer advantages, which is why the seemingly naked elephants are still covered in tiny hairs.

Based on Scott Hartman's skeletal reconstruction of Sue, with facial integument inspired by WitmerLab and Mark Witton.

Bell PR, Campione NE, Persons WS, Currie PJ, Larson PL, Tanke DH, Bakker RT. 2017 Tyrannosauroid integument reveals conflicting patterns of gigantism and feather evolution. Biol. Lett. 2017 13 20170092. rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.or…
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:iconharry-the-fox:
Harry-the-Fox Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Professional Digital Artist
PS Nice work!
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Professional General Artist
Thanks!
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:iconblomman87:
Blomman87 Featured By Owner 1 day ago
How quickly things can change in this field 
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Professional General Artist
Things can and will change rapidly with new discoveries, though in this case it's more of a change in public perception rather than knowledge. The only major change I had to make since 2014 was to add a scaly region in the neck. It has resulted in some interesting discussions regarding dinosaur integument in general though, which will hopefully in the future lead us to a better idea of the interplay of feathers and scales in non-avian coelurosaurs and perhaps the very nature of dinosaurian scales.
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:iconblomman87:
Blomman87 Featured By Owner 1 day ago
There have been new recent non published skin impressions too, the thing is that it takes forever for them to get scientific publicated. I think we now have impressions from plenty of regions of the body but tbh it does not settle much. But it gives us atleast a new base with recent evidence.    Media is hyping everything you know !
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:iconshinreddear:
ShinRedDear Featured By Owner 2 days ago
Along with Hyrotrioskjan's, your variants are the most plausible and well made of all the ones that came from that discussion. And I also love the very realistic colour scheme. :)
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Professional General Artist
Thank you. It's always a challenge to come up with plausible coloration for something that big, so I'm glad that you feel it was a success. :)
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:iconshinreddear:
ShinRedDear Featured By Owner 1 day ago
Indeed it is always to tricky to find the right color scheme for big dinosaurs. We never know how much
they could be flashy or on the contrary muted to fit their environment, if need be. But I do find that beige, brown,
dark-brown schemes work well for Tyrannosaurus rex in its environment. Seriously, well done. ;)
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:iconthatcoelurosaur:
ThatCoelurosaur Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I recommend you read Mark Witton's latest blog post. It suggests that a fully scaly T.rex is entirely possible, just as, if not more so than a feathered one
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Professional General Artist
I haven't read the blog post yet, but I already agree with this notion: it seems that dinosaurs had the ability to switch from filamentous body covering to a scaly integument, and there's no reason why Tyrannosaurs (or Tyrannosaurids in general) couldn't have. This is not to say Tyrannosaurs was fully scaly, we don't have quite enough skin impressions to be sure, and we don't have a clear reason why such a radical switchover would have taken place, but it seems plausible.
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:iconthatcoelurosaur:
ThatCoelurosaur Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Honestly, one could argue for either depiction. It really depend on the kind of scales tyrannosaurs had. Were they true reptilian scales? Or hardened feathers like in wood storks? If the latter, then that could mean that they were feathered as juveniles, and mostly, if not entirely scaly as adults. If these were true scales, then tyrannosaurus would either be fully scaly from the start, or have feathers between the gaps. We honestly don't know. The main point is that a fully scaly T.rex is no longer off of the table of possible depictions. I for one welcome the return of scaly Rex depictions, as it now means that there is a wider variety of Paleoart. Who knows, only time will tell
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Professional General Artist
I suspect that the keratinous growths on a wood storks's neck and head are a result of birds having lost the ability to revert their feathers into reticulae in most regions of their body. This could have something to do with the evolution of pennaceous feathers and the restriction of feather growth into tracts. There are still neornitheans that can switch between feather and scale production, but only on their legs, the only part avians that remains scaly. And further, my hunch is that these reticulae are the only scales you'd find on tyrannoraptorans. It might even be that the original saurposid scales were lost in basal ornithodirans, and all dinosaur scales are modified protofeathers. There is to my knowledge no evidence of feathers being interspersed with scales in the tyrannosaur skin impressions, but if they were, they were probably simple filaments comparable to the sparse hairs of elephants that you wouldn't even notice at a distance (not that you'd be able to see individual scales either).
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:iconthatcoelurosaur:
ThatCoelurosaur Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
All very true. We still have much to discover, and at the end of the day, we can only make guesswork
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:iconshinreddear:
ShinRedDear Featured By Owner 2 days ago
Considering feathers seem to be an ancestral trait in Coelurosauria, including basal Tyrannosauroids, it is more likely that IF Tyrannosaurus rex was indeed feather-free, those "scales" would most likely be like reticulae in birds, that are more and more likely to be highly derived feathers. I don't have a solid opinion on the whole discussion and the horrendous press coverage left a bitter taste in my mouth. But a secondary feather-less Tyrannosaurus rex is at the very least a viable possibility, but not necesseraly the most likely alternative. One thing is sure, we still have a lot to learn.
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:iconthatcoelurosaur:
ThatCoelurosaur Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Indeed we do. Either depiction could honestly work, we just need time
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:iconshinreddear:
ShinRedDear Featured By Owner 2 days ago
Indeed ! More work on taphonomy, more discoveries of better preserved skin impressions
and more studies in general need to be made. ^^
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:iconthatcoelurosaur:
ThatCoelurosaur Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yup. And until then, we can only speculate. I for one welcome scaly tyrannosaur depictions back into Paleoart with open arms
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:iconkazuma27:
Kazuma27 Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Whiskers for a T.rex... Well, it's not too far off, imho,
Anyway, love this trittic, personally, i'd go for a blend of the middle and bottom one ;)
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Professional General Artist
Thank you! I'm actually working on an illustration featuring the middle one with minor changes. I actually feel like I half-arsed the bottom one: it should have slightly more feathers in some places and less feathers in others to fully make sense.
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:iconzealandiatherium:
Zealandiatherium Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Student
The last one is what i think Trex would be
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:icontimelordeternal:
timelordeternal Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2017
I love the one on top the best 
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Professional General Artist
Thanks!
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:icontimelordeternal:
timelordeternal Featured By Owner 5 days ago
Your welcome :D
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:iconattilazilla91:
Attilazilla91 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2017
Great job! i love this.
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Professional General Artist
Thank you. :)
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:icondanneart:
DanneArt Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
I actuly really like your vulture-headed version with the tiny fuzz covering the head!
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Professional General Artist
:D
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:iconpeteridish:
PeteriDish Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
I also think it could very well have a bald head, but in combination with how few feathers it has left on the rest of the body, it makes me wonder why not just lose all of it at this point. :rofl:
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:icondanneart:
DanneArt Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Student Traditional Artist
Yes, you should read Mark Witton's newest blog regarding this area
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:iconpeteridish:
PeteriDish Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
will do! thanks for the recommendation! :)
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:icondanneart:
DanneArt Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Student Traditional Artist
No prob!
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:iconpcawesomeness:
PCAwesomeness Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2017
Amazing!
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Professional General Artist
Thanks!
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:iconpcawesomeness:
PCAwesomeness Featured By Owner 5 days ago
You're welcome!
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:icondinodanthetrainman:
dinodanthetrainman Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
 I wonder how I wonder how much variation could have occurred within actual individuals.
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Professional General Artist
Some amount between individuals undoubtably, but between populations in different parts of Laramidia, potentially a great amount, especially if we include possible sexual dimorphism and the whole lifespan of the species. Maybe even enough that the bottom and middle or middle and top ones could have existed as individuals of the same species.
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:iconpeteridish:
PeteriDish Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
is there really a variation in what portion of a bird is feathered? I agree there must have been variation between species or genera of dinosaurs, but I somehow don't think individuals of the same species would differ signifficantly in the ammount of feathers they had. if it is the case that they lost their feathers over time as they matured, they would differ in the ammount of feathers they currently have based on their age, but this "balding" process would have stopped at some point and the "final look" would be very similar between the various individuals of the same species. of course there would be "freak individuals" who don't fit the norm, but there can be freak individuals for any trait imaginable. Take people for example. There are "wolf children" born with more hair than normal, there is albinism, there are people born with six toes or fingers, or people immune to diseases that are untreatable if contained by the remaining 99.7% of the population and so on. of course there would be variation, but most likely not enough to be visible to the naked eye, or at least I don't think there would be enough variation between adults of the same species to be immediately obvious to somebody who doesn't study these animals in detail, like caretakers at a zoo can tell two leopards apart and call them by name, but all leopards look so similar to me that I don't even bother to look for the minute nuances between them and just pretend they are all basically the same.
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:icondinodanthetrainman:
dinodanthetrainman Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
But there may be subspecies.
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:iconpeteridish:
PeteriDish Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
So? You have just pushed the question back a step. Subspecies typically differ in area, color, size and sometimes diet due to regional differences in the availability of any particular food source, but the differences are very slight, so members of different subspecies can breed successfully as long as any geological features of the terrain don't prevent them from working one another.

A Siberian tiger and a Bengal tiger are similar enough to be able to interbreed. Besides their size, length of their fur, and a lighter vs darker shade of orange, there are very few noteworthy differences between them.

Simply put, I don't think it is reasonable to expect one subspecies of tyrannosaurus rex to have a feathered head, and another subspecies of tyrannosaurus rex to have a bald head. That is such a diagnostically significant difference that such two animals would be considered different species, if not outright different genera.
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:icondinodanthetrainman:
dinodanthetrainman Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Also there could be differences between males and females.
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:iconpeteridish:
PeteriDish Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
True. Males of some species could have had a courtship coat during the breeding season or just be a different color altogether.
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:icondinodanthetrainman:
dinodanthetrainman Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
How would you know if there was more than one species with the same basic skeleton?
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:iconpeteridish:
PeteriDish Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
As it is, species are identified through skeletal differences, there is not much else that can be done with the fossils we have, but truth is, many related species alive today are basically the same in terms of their skeleton and the vast majority of differences is found in the soft tissues and in their genetics, such as the number of their hromosomes.

For example modern African antelopes are so similar to each other skeletally, that if they turned into fossils, Horner would have you believe they were different developmental stages of the same species, just like he is doing with stygimoloch, dracorex and pachycephalosaurus and with triceratops and torosaurus.

I would argue soft tissue variation within one species would still be much smaller than the differences between different species. That is the only way recognizing a unique species would make sense at all.
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:icondaboss25:
DaBoss25 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2017  Hobbyist Artist
HOLY SHIT I AIN'T THE ONLY ONE WHO THOUGHT OF A WOLF-SNOUTED T. REX, YESSSS!!!!! :D

Ahem.

Wonderful job on the drawing.
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Professional General Artist
I wouldn't call it wolf-snouted. It's a Tyrannosaurus-snouted Tyrannosaurus. Sue actually had a rugosity on the premaxilla above/in front of the naris that seems to indicate a sizeable mass of armor-like skin. It would have had an interesting-looking nose.
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:icondaboss25:
DaBoss25 Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist Artist
Well, it kinda struck me as having a similar looking snout to the wolf but ok. 
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Professional General Artist
There seems to be some convergence between gorgonopsians, tyrannosaurids and modern carnivorans in the nasal region. For something so closely related to birds, Tyrannosaurus had a remarkably canid-like head shape.
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:iconcandelediva:
candelediva Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2017
I'd like to see Tyrannosaurus with feather whiskers
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Professional General Artist
I doubt Tyrannosaurus would have had those. For a small dinosaur hunting at night in the underbrush or in similar enclosed spaces, unable to rely on sight and smell they would make sense, though. I hope one day Liaoning will yield its first whiskered dinosaur.
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:iconcandelediva:
candelediva Featured By Owner 5 days ago
I hope so too. 
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