49. Hot-Blooded Deinonychus, 1969


If any single event marks the watershed between the dinosaur restorations of Zallinger and Burian, and dinosaurs as we now perceive them, it would have to be the 1969 publication of John Ostrom's description of Deinonychus, with its frontispiece drawing by Robert Bakker. Deinonychus had been discovered in Montana in 1964; it was a larger version of Velociraptor, and the presence of fighting claws on its feet indicated that this fleet predator must have been capable of leaping onto its victims. For the article, Bakker drew a memorable restoration. This dinosaur is alert, intelligent-looking, light on its feet, and very swift. There are hints of Colbert's Coelophysis here, and Knight's Ornitholestes, and perhaps Heilmann's Iguanodon. On the other hand, like all great works of art that build on past visions, Bakker's drawing completely transcended its forerunners, so that in a very real way it had no precedent. It is probably the single most memorable image of modern dinosaur literature, and it is not surprising that it marks the beginning of a new era in dinosaur restoration.


Ostrom, John H. Osteology of Deinonychus antirrhopus, an unusual theropod dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of Montana. New Haven: Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 1969. Series: Yale University. Peabody Museum of Natural History. Bulletin 30. This work was on display in the original exhibition as item 49.

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