What have you done with Aquilops!?

January 16, 2015

Awesome things, that’s what. In a previous post I asked people to make cool things with Aquilops. And you have. In spades. Here’s a compilation of the best things so far.

Aquilops sketch by Mike Keesey

First, a blast from the past. As far as I know, the first life restoration of Aquilops was actually this sketch by Mike Keesey, which he executed while sitting in the audience for Andy Farke’s talk on our not-yet-named ceratopsian at SVP 2013. Mike kindly sat on it for over a year, and then posted it to his Flickr stream after the paper came out last month. A small adventure ensued – a site called News Maine (which I refuse to link to) used Mike’s image without his knowledge or permission in their Aquilops article. When he wrote to them and pointed out their breach, they swapped his image for one of Brian Engh’s, but still did not provide an image credit! Now their Aquilops article appears to have been taken down entirely. Good riddance.

Mike says of his Aquilops, “I’d like to make it clear that it was done from looking at a slide during a talk and not meant to be rigorous or accurate.” But I dig it (and I did get his permission to repost it!). It has character – it looks weary, maybe a little grumpy, like a pint-size curmudgeon. And it definitely wants you kids to get off its damn lawn. If you want to see more of Mike’s sketches in this style from SVP 2013 – and you should, they’re very good – go here.

Extreme Aquilops papercraft skull by Gareth Monger

Dinosaur skull or starfighter? You decide!

Second, people have taken the paper skull I posted before and used it as the raw material for significantly more awesome versions. Gareth Monger made the more-fully-3D version shown here, and posted about it at his Pteroformer blog. I think it’s totally wicked, and I’d make my own if I had the patience and skill.

Aquilops puppet - Alf museum

But I don’t. Fortunately, there is help for me: Kathy Sanders, the Director of Outreach at the Raymond M. Alf Museum here in Claremont (where Aquilops lead author Andy Farke is based), took my skull drawings and turned them into a papercraft finger puppet suitable for all ages. I know it’s suitable for all ages because at the Alf Museum’s Family Science Discovery Day last Saturday, almost every one of many children going through the museum had an Aquilops puppet on one hand. London and I each made one, and we spent a lot of time Saturday evening goofing off with them.


Alas, poor Aquilops! I knew him, readers; a fellow of minuscule crest, of most excellent beak; he hath borne my career on his head a whole month; and now, how adored in my imagination he is!

You can see a little video of the puppet in action on Ashley Hall’s Tumblr, Lady Naturalist. And you can get the files to make your own from the Alf Museum website, here. You’ll also need a couple of brads to make the jaw hinge joints, and a smaller-than-normal hole punch is handy for making the holes, but ultimately any method that produces a small, round hole will work.

Finished-Aquilops-2 by James Appleby

Heads not enough for you? Want a complete Aquilops to call your own? You are in luck – not one but two such critters have emerged from the virtual undergrowth. James Appleby, a 16-year-old who blogs at Edaphosaurus.com, did something that would not have occurred to me in a million years: he took the baby Aquilops (Aquilopses?) from Brian Engh’s awesomely detailed Cloverly environment scene and made a paper model. It’s a great example of how releasing something under an open license – in this case CC-BY – encourages people to do cool new things with your work. You can get the parts here.

Aquilops paper toy by Gareth Monger

Want something cuter? Try this papercraft Aquilops toy, another creation of the apparently indefatigable Gareth Monger. Post and parts here. I love Gareth’s concluding exhortation: “Edit it, share it, distribute it. Keep it fun and keep it free.” That’s practically the Aquilops motto.

I’m probably just scratching the surface here. I know there has been a flowering of awesome Aquilops restorations on DeviantART. David Orr has an adorkable ‘Pixel Aquilops t-shirt on Redbubble. Tell me what else is out there, and keep making new stuff. Let’s keep this thing rolling.

And a big thank you to Mike, Gareth, Kathy, Ashley, and James for making cool Aquilops stuff and posting it for people to see and build. You all rock.

13 Responses to “What have you done with Aquilops!?”

  1. Rob Gay Says:

    I had my paleontology students make the papercraft models in class. They thought it was so cute and I was pleased to see that they could mostly follow the written instructions.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out and the kind words.

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    “It has character – it looks weary, maybe a little grumpy, like a pint-size curmudgeon.”

    Yes indeed. The caption would be something like: “Seriously? This again?”

  4. @Mike Taylor,

    I think it’s looking disapprovingly at end-Maastrichtian ceratopsians. “Back in my day we didn’t have all this frou-frou get-up — we had a tasteful rostral bump and that’s it! You kids are a bunch of overweight dandies that can’t even handle a meteorite impact….”

  5. Akihiko Says:

    Hello,Dr.Taylor!My name is Akihiko.I’m a Japanese medical student who love T.rex and Alamosaurus.I always enjoy reading this website!!
    I have read the paper of Aquilops too.I’m interested in the philogeny of ceratopsids especially about how they have lost “frontal teeth”. It might something to do with changing of their eating habits( Aquilops and Yinlong might have been omnivore but tend to eat meat too while progressed ceratopsids mainly eat plants …).What do you think about this?

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    Hi, Akihiko, good to hear from you. I don’t know much about ceratopsians, though. For that, you want my co-blogger Matt Wedel, who was involved with the Aquilops paper — or better still, occasional SV-POW! commenter Andy Farke, who was the lead author of that paper and is obsessed by ceratopsians despite their palpable inferiority to sauropods.

  7. Akihiko Says:

    I’m really sorry Dr.Taylor…I have forgot that Dr.Wedel had written the paper too. Please say hello to him and let me study about sauropods in this website from now on.

  8. Zach Miller Says:

    I can attempt to answer (part of) Akihiko’s question.

    Basal neoceratopsians like Aquilops, Liaoceratops, and Archaeoceratops all have two or three premaxillary peg-teeth. Strangely (maybe just to me), those teeth do not oppose matching teeth in the dentary. Rather, they directly oppose the predentary bone. Thus, those peg teeth were doing the job that later ceratopsoids were doing with their rostrals alone–providing a cutting surface. The rostral bone of basal neoceratopsians is small and distinctly downturned, and did not act in concert with the predentary.

    Even basal coronosaurs, like Protoceratops, still had peg teeth, but the deeper lower jaw and larger rostral bone began making the peg teeth redundant (I suspect).

    Leptoceratopsids have lost their peg teeth entirely–a feature they share with ceratopsoids, but their rostral bones are not necessarily larger than basal coronosaurs.

    By the time you get to ceratopsoids (Zuniceratops & Turanoceratops + Ceratopsidae) and of course ceratopsids (Chasmosaurinae + Centrosaurinae), the predentary and rostral bones are large and directly opposed, worked together wonderfully as the “cutting surface” for plant material.

    Matt, Andy, if I’m getting any of this wrong, please correct me.

  9. Matt Wedel Says:

    That all sounds right to me, Zach. The only thing I’d add is that the larger, more derived ceratopsians were really concentrating their oral processing in the scissor-like maxillary and dentary toothrows. The premaxillary teeth weren’t part of that mechanism, and as you point out, they weren’t part of the rostral-predentary cropping mechanism either. It’s probably a toss-up whether premaxillary teeth were selected against, because they interfered with the smooth functioning of the rostral-predentary beak or the maxillary-dentary teeth, or whether they could be lost through deletion mutations without loss of function, so there was no selective pressure to retain them. Or both. Or maybe something else entirely, like the morphogenetic pattern that produces premaxillary teeth was interrupted by some other aspect of facial development.

    FYI, You and Dodson’s 2004 chapter on basal Ceratopsia for the Dinosauria 2nd edition is available on the UC Press website here.

  10. Zach Miller Says:

    Certainly, as the rostral bone became larger and more important, the structure of the premaxillary changed pretty radically.

  11. Akihiko Says:

    Mr.Miller and Dr. Wedel, thank you very much for answering my silly question! You mean that basal ceratopsians used premaxillary teeth for cutting their foods because they had less strong rostral bones than progressed ones, but they gradually lost premaxillary teeth as dentary and maxillary toothrows progressed .
    I can’t wait to find the ” missing link ” of ceratopsians which losts premaxillary teeth little by little.

    By the way, my hometown Kumamoto( Kyushu District, southwest Japan) has been rich of Cenomanian fossils, containing Tyrannosauridae( seems to be “Aublysodon”), Therizinosauridae( looks like Nothronychus),and Lambeosaurinae( whose teeth looks like to be Bactrosaurus). I strongly recommend you to visit ” Mifune Dinosaur Museum” especially during March 20th to 30th( because pretty cherry blossomes around the museum blooms during this time!!)

  12. Finally got my 3D printed Aquilops skull and mandible. I’ve posted pictures on Instagram, FB, and Twitter, but I’ll share them on my blog tonight. It came out really spectacularly, and I’m tempted to paint it. I was surprised to see how favorably it compared, size-wise, to some of my mammal skulls–it’s about the same size as my raccoon and opossum. Pretty awesome, guys. I hope this 3D PDF thing catches on.

  13. […] about getting to help name new taxa is that once you let them out into the world, other people can unleash their considerable talents on ‘your’ critters. Which means that every now and then, something cool pops up that […]

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