Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Webinar: Natural History at Home – Paleo Portraits

Webinar: Natural History at Home – Paleo Portraits
Nov. 13, 2021

Katie Derloshon:
My name is Katie, and I'm an educator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. Welcome now officially to today's Natural History at Home family program. Today's program kicks off our Celebration of Fossils series. From now until November 21, we will be offering online programs with paleontologists, fossil preparators, educators and artists. Plus, we'll also have some activities that you can do at home.

Each program and activity will focus on different life from the Cretaceous Period and how that life moved. In fact, today we'll be looking closely and drawing two animals to learn more about how they moved or what body features that they had to help them move in their environment. You can find out more about some of our programs that we'll be having and activities by visiting our virtual Celebration of Fossils website, which finally brings us to today's program: paleo portraits.

I am so excited to welcome you to our live program, which again is all about paleo art and how to draw prehistoric animals. During today's program, we are going to think about how scientists learn about animals from the past, including things like how they moved or maybe even what they ate, learn how scientists and artists can work together to teach others what these prehistoric creatures look like, and we're going to draw some animals together.

To help us do that, we have two of the world's top paleo artists back with us today. We have guest experts, Bob Walters and Tess Kissinger. They will walk us through the steps of how to create two different prehistoric animal drawings. Now, Bob and Tess have joined us for many programs in the past. In fact, here are a few of the examples of drawings that I've been able to make alongside them. We hope that you will also share some of your drawings that you make today together as a family with us after the program.

But in order to draw alongside the program, please make sure you have some supplies ready to go. You'll at least need some pencils, a marker and an eraser and a couple pieces of blank paper. You'll need at least two blank pieces of paper for each artist that's drawing today, and also a flat surface to lie your paper on so that you can have an easier time drawing.

But before we begin, we need to ask ourselves, "How do we even know what prehistoric animals like dinosaurs look like?" I know I've seen dinosaurs and prehistoric animals in movies and I've seen them at museums, but how do scientists know that they look like this? Because, I mean, dinosaurs aren't just walking around now. The dinosaurs of the past are not walking around right now, so how do we know what they look like? Talk with your family and then share those responses with us in the Q&A.

All right, so whoo. Okay, we have some answers coming in, in the Q&A. A lot of people, Taylor, Teddy, Madeline, Robert, Levi, Lily, George, they're all saying either their bones, fossils or skeletons. Ooh, and [Ari 00:03:06] is also agreeing that the fossils of their skeletons can tell us a lot about these animals, and you're right.

Scientists can learn about these animals by looking closely at the fossils. The fossils help us to know what these animals would've looked like a long time ago, and then scientists can work together with artists to imagine what they would've looked like even a little bit more because they wouldn't have just been these fossil skeleton creatures walking around. They would've had skin and muscles wrapped around these bones. Those artists can help us to know the complete picture of what this animal might have look like.

Now, I'm ready to get this drawing party started. Let's go ahead and welcome Bob and Tess to our program. Hey, Bob. Hey, Tess.

Tess Kissinger:
Hi.

Katie:
Hey, hey, hey. How you doing this morning?

Tess Kissinger:
We're doing well.

Bob Walters:
We're hanging in there.

Katie:
All right, all right. Now, many people might be returning to our program and they might have met you in previous programs, but would you mind sharing a little bit about yourselves with some of those families that might be new?

Bob Walters:
Well, I'm Bob Walters. I'm a paleontological reconstruction artist.

Tess Kissinger:
I am Tess Kissinger. I also am a paleo artist.

Bob Walters:
We'd work for museums, books, TV, once in a while a movie reconstructing prehistoric animals. We work with scientists very closely to get the anatomy of the animals and their behavior and the environments as accurate as we can make them.

Katie:
Ooh. Oh, sounds very exciting and very important. Now, we've been using the word paleo art, and you're saying paleo artist. Can you tell us exactly what exactly is a paleo artist?

Bob Walters:
A paleo artist is a kind of scientific illustrator that specializes in prehistoric animals and environments and reconstructs them as accurately as possible in variety of media, traditional media and digital media.

Katie:
Wow. We have a picture of a mural that both of you were able to work on. Will you tell us a little bit about this mural?

Bob Walters:
This mural is a digital mural, it was done on computer, and is at Dinosaur National Monument, the edge of Colorado and Utah. It portrays the Morrison Formation in the Jurassic. The big animal in the center is Allosaurus fragilis. It's reproduced on the wall about the actual size of the animal. On the wall, it's about 30 feet long.

Katie:
Wow. Really cool. How did knowing about the fossils help you to be able to recreate, I guess, this mural here?

Bob Walters:
Well, we were able to use the skeleton that stands in front of it, which is a full Allosaurus skeleton, and we're able to measure the bones, talk with the scientists, talk about where the muscles would go. We don't know about color and we don't know specifically about the skin, but it probably had scaly skin. If you zoom in close on it, it's a lot of scales.

Katie:
Wow, so at Dinosaur National Monument, there's the skeleton in front of this, in front of your mural?

Bob Walters:
Yes.

Tess Kissinger:
Yes.

Katie:
Wow. I'm sure that really helps to complete the picture of-

Bob Walters:
Yeah, you can compare the skeleton to the fleshed out animal. They're both about the same size, slightly offset from each other so you can see them both.

Katie:
That's cool. How did you both become paleo artists?

Tess Kissinger:
When I was a really little kid back in the last millennium, I saw a Life magazine cover that had dinosaurs on it. Inside, there was a gatefold illustration reproduction of Rudolph Zallinger's mural at the Peabody Museum at Yale. Once I saw that and I was told that these animals were real, these were not fantasy animals, I just said, "Oh, I could do that. I would like to do that." And then I went to a museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and I actually saw the skeletons mounted and that did it for me. I was like, "Wow, they are real."

Katie:
That's really cool. And what about you, Tess?

Tess Kissinger:
Well, I first met a paleontologist in, I would say, the '70s. They are the coolest people on the planet. They really are like Indiana Jones only real. And not only that, but there was kind of a renaissance going on in paleo art. Artists love to live during a renaissance, so I decided, "I'm going to join this gang."

Katie:
Very cool, very cool. And were you an artist prior to learning about?

Tess Kissinger:
Yes, I was.

Katie:
Very cool. Excellent.

Bob Walters:
You were going into art school.

Katie:
Excellent. Cool. Well, thank you for sharing a little bit more about your journey into paleo art. Maybe we'll be having some new paleo artists born today during our program.

Tess Kissinger:
It's certainly a fun thing to do.

Bob Walters:
Open.

Katie:
All right. Well, before we begin, again let's have a quick reminder of the supplies we will need. You'll at least need at home a pencil with an eraser or a separate eraser, a marker or a dark color pen and at least two pieces of paper, one for each artist that is drawing today.

Bob and Tess, you usually join us to teach us how to draw dinosaurs but today, you have something a little different. What will we be drawing today together?

Bob Walters:
We'll be drawing two non-dinosaurs, prehistoric reptiles from the Cretaceous Period. The first one will be Tylosaurus, a really large carnivorous marine lizard. Tylosaurus and the other mosasaurs, it is a mosasaur, are moderately related to the modern monitor lizards, it is believed.

Katie:
Ooh, wait. Okay, so it's related to a monitor lizard, kind of like a Komodo dragon?

Bob Walters:
Yes. If you can imagine a Komodo dragon with a much longer head and much larger swimming in the ocean, instead of arms and legs, the arms and legs have been turned into paddles.

Katie:
Ooh. But this animal, you're saying it's not a dinosaur. So what makes a dinosaur a dinosaur, and why isn't this animal considered a dinosaur?

Bob Walters:
Dinosaurs belong to a larger group of animals called archosaurs. They're generally decided anatomically based on their hip structure, which is a conversation for another day.

Katie:
In short, is it based on how they walk or just based on how their bones in their hips are?

Bob Walters:
[crosstalk 00:09:36] terrestrial and how they walk and how they move.

Katie:
Ooh, okay.

Tess Kissinger:
It's unique.

Katie:
But was this animal still alive during the same time as dinosaurs?

Bob Walters:
Yes, very definitely. It lived in a huge ocean that actually occupied the center of what is now the United States. It's called the Ocean of Kansas.

Katie:
Ooh. So where Kansas the state is now, these were swimming around there before?

Bob Walters:
Oh, yeah.

Katie:
Ooh, cool. Excellent. Okay. Well, I'm excited to learn how to draw this animal with you all today. Earlier, you both had shared that you work with scientists and you look at fossils as well to learn about what the features of the animal would've had to help you draw. Let's all take a look at some fossils from our Deep Time hall exhibit of the Tylosaurus to see what features we can learn about that we'll be including in our drawing today. So families at home, take some observations of this Tylosaurus in our Deep Time exhibit and let us know in the Q&A some of those features that you notice. You can even relate it back to the previous drawing if you want, so if you saw something there and now you see the evidence here.

For example, one of those things I noticed was... Especially since it lives in the water, you're saying it had flippers or paddles instead of... Or like the Komodo dragon had legs, or feet, but this one doesn't. It has paddles or flippers. You can definitely see the evidence here in this picture.

Julian and Clara are saying that this animal is really long, so they notice that the animal was a long animal. Lauren is noticing that it has teeth. Ooh. Ooh, and Emily's saying that they noticed that it has finger bones under the flippers or on the flippers. Finger bones. Interesting.

Yeah, let's take a closer look at that. So Bob and Tess, can you tell us a little bit about... Are these fingers?

Bob Walters:
Yes. They're basically our fingers encased in a pad or flipper.

Katie:
So it would've been not like hands like ours to grab, but more like paddle or a flipper, like a dolphin or like a seal or ... I'm trying to think of an animal that I'm familiar with today that might have something similar.

Bob Walters:
Yeah, very similar.

Katie:
Excellent. We had one family noticing that it had teeth. Colleen is wondering, "What does this animal eat?" Can we take a closer look at the skull and take a look at those teeth? Bob and Tess, with teeth like that, what kind of information can you learn?

Bob Walters:
This is definitely a carnivorous animal. It probably ate a lot of fish. We know for a fact that mosasaurs attacked and bit into the shellfish called ammonites that look a lot like modern nautiloids because we found both teeth and teeth marks embedded in those shells.

Katie:
And the ammonites, those are those circular animals with the soft body part coming out of the shell, right?

Bob Walters:
They look a lot of like a nautilus.

Katie:
Cool. Yeah, exactly. Someone is saying that it looks like an alligator. Is this related to an alligator?

Bob Walters:
Actually, it's not related to an alligator, although it swam very similar to an alligator in that it used its tail to propel itself.

Katie:
Ooh, excellent. Okay. Well, excellent observations, everyone. And thank you, Bob and Tess, for helping us take a closer look and learn a little bit more about its paddles and as well the teeth, what it would have eaten. Here, we can see how your drawing overlaid on top of our fossils, you can really see how they match up and how those fossils could definitely help to create a more accurate drawing. This is really cool.

And you've already shared a little bit earlier, but I want to ask one more time. What can we learn about this animal in particular, if there's anything we haven't talked about, from our observations that will help us to draw this animal more accurately? Are there any key body features we haven't necessarily talked about yet that will help us?

Bob Walters:
Yeah, we haven't gone into a lot of detail. I mentioned that it uses its tail. Unlike an alligator's tail, when we draw this you'll see that this animal had a keeled tail. We'll explain that a little more closely later. It would definitely help it to swim through the water more efficiently.

Katie:
Ooh, excellent. Okay. Well, I'm ready to start drawing. Are you ready to start drawing?

Tess Kissinger:
I'm going to move to the background because I will get in the way of the light, but you can hear me.

Katie:
Okay, sounds good.

Bob Walters:
All right.

Katie:
All right. But before we start, Bob, we're going to start with pencil first, right?

Bob Walters:
Yes.

Katie:
And then how should I have my paper? Should I have it like landscape?

Bob Walters:
I would have it horizontal.

Katie:
Horizontal?

Bob Walters:
Landscape format.

Katie:
Okay, excellent.

Bob Walters:
All right, are we ready? Here we go.

Katie:
Let's do it.

Bob Walters:
I'm going to draw a very sharp triangle.

Katie:
Ooh, okay. So it's kind of like a longish, skinny triangle.

Bob Walters:
I'm going to draw another one that meets it. Like this. This is the skull. This is the lower jaw.

Katie:
Okay, so one triangle and then a kind of triangle-ish shape on the bottom connecting to it.

Bob Walters:
Yeah. Back here would be the hinge of their jaw. Their jaws open and shut like a pair of scissors. I'm going to draw a round circle here. That's the eye.

Katie:
All right. Did you color it in or did you just draw a circle?

Bob Walters:
I just drew a circle now. We'll color it in a little bit later.

Katie:
Okay.

Bob Walters:
Now, I'm going to draw a kind of lumpy semicircle right behind the head. Make it relatively narrow because the neck was relatively thin.

Katie:
So your semicircle here, it starts, though, at that top triangle and then it loops around to the jaw?

Bob Walters:
Yes. You want to meet the lower jaw right there.

Katie:
Okay.

Bob Walters:
Next thing is we draw basically a sort of long hotdog shape for the body.

Katie:
Ooh, okay. And your long hot dog shape, it looks like it kind of overlaps a little bit to that circle.

Bob Walters:
Yeah. We're going to attach these two.

Katie:
Okay, so I'm going to do my hot dog shape here. I'm coming out the neck in a long... Okay.

Bob Walters:
Like that. Now, I'm going to draw a line like this. Let me draw it and finish it.

Katie:
Ooh, what part is that?

Bob Walters:
That's going to be the very long tail that it used to propel itself through the water.

Katie:
So it's going to come out of my long hot dog shape. It's kind of just like a big backwards letter C.

Bob Walters:
Yep. Now, let me draw this again.

Katie:
Ooh, okay.

Bob Walters:
There's the tail. Top, bottom.

Katie:
So coming out of the bottom hot dog and curving down to the end. Cool.

Bob Walters:
I'm going to draw sort of a pyramid shape here. That will become the keel.

Katie:
Can you tell us a little bit more about what a keel is?

Bob Walters:
When you see a keel on a boat, it is used to guide it through the water. This is almost certainly used, when it propelled its tail, to guide it more accurately through the water. It would've been a superior swimmer to a crocodile or alligator.

Katie:
And it would've been on the top part of the tail?

Bob Walters:
Yes.

Katie:
Excellent. Now, Bob, I have to ask a question real quick, because I already have noticed that I did not really like how I did my tail. I've been erasing and redrawing a little bit. That's okay, right?

Bob Walters:
[inaudible 00:17:47]. Erase to your heart's content.

Katie:
Okay, because this can be like a draft, right?

Bob Walters:
Yes. This is just a rough drawing. Do not try to make this the final drawing. This can be quite rough and then at the end when you've inked it, you'll erase the pencil. They won't show it all at the end.

Katie:
Okay. But if I wanted to redo this after if I'm not happy with this one, that's okay?

Bob Walters:
Sure.

Katie:
Do you often have to do drafts?

Bob Walters:
Oh, all the time. To get things accurate, scientists will make me and Tess draw and redraw and draw and redraw pencil sketches, blue lines on the computer. It can be quite a long process, so we have lots of drawings rejected.

Tess Kissinger:
There's a bunch of drafts right here on the floor just for this program.

Bob Walters:
That's true.

Katie:
Oh, wow.

Bob Walters:
Practices are thrown on the floor.

Katie:
So it's okay if it's not perfect perfect right now.

Bob Walters:
Yes. You don't want to go for perfection in your sketch.

Katie:
Excellent.

Bob Walters:
Now, I'm going to draw a semicircle right there and another one there a little bit smaller. These are the paddles, the fins.

Katie:
Now, in the fossil, it looked like it had more than two.

Bob Walters:
Oh, yes. Here, you want to draw one that just connects there. This is the one on the other side. These are on the other side of the animal. It has four flippers.

Katie:
So by drawing that little curved line attaching to the closer flippers, it kind of gives us a little bit of perspective here.

Bob Walters:
Yes, exactly.

Katie:
Cool. Excellent.

Bob Walters:
Well, there's your basic Tylosaurus sketch.

Katie:
Cool. Excellent.

Bob Walters:
Switch over to markers.

Katie:
Now, before we click over to markers, we have a question from Carol in the Q&A wondering how long is a Tylosaurus.

Bob Walters:
A Tylosaurus is over 30 feet long.

Katie:
Wow, okay.

Bob Walters:
Yeah. Some of the skeletons have been clocked in at about 40.

Katie:
Whoo. Okay, excellent. Well-

Bob Walters:
[crosstalk 00:19:50] big.

Katie:
They were very big. You're right.

Bob Walters:
Yes.

Katie:
Cool. Okay, so it's time for marker?

Bob Walters:
Yes. Think of it as a sort of seagoing Tyrannosaurus.

Katie:
All right. Colleen is saying, "Wow." I'm sorry, what was that?

Tess Kissinger:
Think of it as sort of a seagoing Tyrannosaurus.

Katie:
Ooh. Well, in the Q&A Colleen just said, "Wow." Yeah, I agree. This was a big creature.

Bob Walters:
Oh, yeah. And quite dangerous. Just draw ink in around the circle you made before. You can put a dot in the center of it for the pupil, or you can just ink it in dark. Now, I'm going to draw a little eyebrow ridge above it.

Katie:
And is the eyebrow ridge just a little half circle above the eye?

Bob Walters:
Just a little half circle above the eye. You see these on a lot of lizards. I'm also going to put a little dot here behind the eye. That's the auditory opening, or ear opening.

Katie:
Oh, so it would've just been a little tiny dot?

Bob Walters:
Yeah. At this distance, you wouldn't show up. If you look at a Komodo dragon, you can see the auditory opening very clearly behind the eye at the back of the skull.

Katie:
When you're saying inking... So we have a question real quick in the Q&A about what color should we use. Does it matter, or what color do you suggest?

Bob Walters:
Right now, I would just say use black.

Katie:
Okay.

Bob Walters:
Or dark brown.

Katie:
Black or dark brown. Okay.

Bob Walters:
Now, I'm going to had a little half circle behind the ear and behind this nostril. The nostril's relatively far up on the skull.

Katie:
And for the nostril, did you do a little dot or did you do a little line?

Bob Walters:
I did a little dot and then a little curved line. Now, on the actual animal, the nostril may have been a little bit higher than this.

Katie:
Excellent.

Bob Walters:
Now, we're going to draw the top of the skull. Let me draw that in before you do anything. Just follow that line, the original line.

Katie:
Did you stop when you got to the eyebrow arc?

Bob Walters:
I went past it almost to the ear, touching the line behind the ear.

Katie:
So just that top line of that triangle.

Bob Walters:
Yep. I'm going to put a little half circle under the eye.

Katie:
Is that just for a little detail?

Bob Walters:
Yep. Now, I'm going to finish this snout. I'm going to curve it down very slightly to give it a little bit of a crocodile smile, but you don't have to do that. You could just make it go straight back to the end of the jaw.

Katie:
You're not tracing that whole triangle line. You're still stopping a little bit before it?

Bob Walters:
A little bit before it ends.

Katie:
Okay.

Bob Walters:
I'm going to draw the lower jaw.

Katie:
So tracing that bottom triangle.

Bob Walters:
Now curve it up a little bit.

Katie:
When you say curve it up the back?

Bob Walters:
[crosstalk 00:23:06] more curve at the back rather than a straight line.

Katie:
Excellent.

Bob Walters:
Here comes a fun part. I'm going to draw in the teeth. I'll draw them in, and then you can add your teeth. This thing, as you could see on the actual fossil, has a lot of very sharp teeth.

Tess Kissinger:
But they're short.

Bob Walters:
Yeah, they're not terribly long, as you could see, but they are sharp.

Katie:
It's a little tricky to see. Are you just drawing little tiny triangles?

Bob Walters:
Yeah. I'll draw one bigger. It just sort of looks like this.

Katie:
Okay, and you're just doing those on the top and the bottom line of inside of the mouth?

Bob Walters:
Just as you saw in the actual fossil, you could see they're on top and the bottom. I'm also going to draw a little half circle inside the mouth. This is where two very powerful muscles crisscross, making it shut like a very powerful pair of scissors.

Katie:
Excellent.

Bob Walters:
Yes, it would hurt. Now, I'm going to draw in the neck. About here, I'm going to put a couple little wrinkles in here.

Katie:
So that neck line was just that top half circle line?

Bob Walters:
And stop when you get to the edge of the back.

Katie:
All right.

Bob Walters:
I'm going to draw in the neck and just attach it to the body.

Katie:
So the top line and the bottom line, just to where we get to that body or that hot dog.

Bob Walters:
There and there.

Katie:
Cool.

Bob Walters:
I'm going to put a couple little wrinkles in here which may have been there or not. Now, I'm going to draw a line like this that meets the paddle. That's where the chest begins.

Katie:
So the the paddle that's closest to us.

Bob Walters:
Yes. And I'm going to draw two lines like this. This is where the paddle attaches to these muscles. I'm going to put some little bumps in as if you can see the end of the fingers. But if you want to make it perfectly smooth, that is perfectly all right. Little lines showing the phalanges. But they may not have shown on the surface. It may have been completely smooth. I'm going to draw in the paddle behind. Now, I'm going to draw the back to the beginning of the tail.

Katie:
All right.

Bob Walters:
And the tummy.

Katie:
And the tummy line will go all the way again to that paddle?

Bob Walters:
To the back paddle.

Katie:
All right.

Bob Walters:
It's starting to look sort of like a Tylosaurus. This is a good thing.

Katie:
I think so. And then do we trace the back paddle as well, right?

Bob Walters:
Yep, and the one behind it.

Katie:
All right.

Bob Walters:
Now, you see it on a lot of lizards, you can see this sort of wrinkle line that runs down just above the belly. I'm going to put it in, but we don't know if it had this. It may well not have. We don't know what the skin looked like.

Katie:
Someone was asking in the Q&A, "Did it have scales?"

Bob Walters:
Yes. Almost certainly it had scales, and it probably looked a lot like the scales on modern monitor lizards.

Katie:
Ah, okay.

Bob Walters:
They'd be quite small. On an animal this size, they'd be quite small. The animal going through the water would probably look remarkably smooth.

Katie:
Do we know how fast it would've swam?

Bob Walters:
We don't actually know how fast it could've gone. Probably at least the speeds that you see on alligators and crocodiles swimming in the water. They're pretty fast. They're pretty effective. Now, I'm going to do the tail.

Katie:
Starting with the bottom line?

Bob Walters:
Yeah, I'm going to start with the bottom line.

Katie:
And stop at the triangle?

Bob Walters:
Yeah, I did.

Katie:
Keel?

Bob Walters:
You're going to make it a little bit longer there. I brought my line a little bit longer than the sketch.

Katie:
All right, so we've got the top line of the tail and the bottom line of the tail.

Bob Walters:
Then you're going to do the keel.

Katie:
Trace the keel, that triangle.

Bob Walters:
There.

Katie:
Whoo. Excellent. This is so cool, Bob.

Bob Walters:
It does look pretty cool. Can you imagine these things swimming around? Don't go swimming.

Katie:
No, no, no. I mean, I don't want to swim with them. I think they're really cool to look at right now, but I don't want to swim with them.

Bob Walters:
No, that would not be a good idea. Now in the past, many artists have put a frill like you see on a moray eel down the back, but there's no evidence for it. And the modern monitor lizards, particularly ones that are semi-aquatic like Nile monitors, they don't have that on the back. Their backs are smooth, like those of a Komodo dragon. So I'm not going to do that. I think that's probably incorrect. Put a couple wrinkles here.

Katie:
So you're just adding some final details?

Bob Walters:
These are just final details which you can add or not add on your own. This line shows the top of the tail as it curves around, but you don't actually have to put that in if you don't want to.

Katie:
Cool.

Bob Walters:
And then you can add some wrinkles here to show it's curving around, just lines showing that it curves around, that it's rounded. And you got Tylosaurus.

Katie:
Ooh, I'm going to add in some of those little extra lines there.

Bob Walters:
And you can color it basically, we don't know the colors, basically any color you want to. I would suggest looking at modern monitor lizards, crocodile, alligator coloration, but then look at the coloration of other animals in the sea, like just sharks, other kinds of fish, just for variation in color. We don't actually know. The colors that I showed in the piece of artwork is conjectural.

Katie:
Yesterday when we practiced, I ended up coloring mine a kind of a blueish-y, purplely, grayish color because I was thinking about the water that they would have been living in.

Bob Walters:
Oh, don't forget to sign your work.

Katie:
Ooh, okay. Let me write my name. Can I show you mine, Bob?

Bob Walters:
Yes. Let's see. Let see.

Katie:
All right.

Bob Walters:
Hey, looks like mine.

Katie:
All right.

Bob Walters:
Good idea. [inaudible 00:30:47].

Katie:
Now, I just erase all the pencil.

Bob Walters:
Yes, you just erase the pencil. When you get a chance, just erase all the pencil away. You'll have a finished ink drawing, and then you can color it to your heart's content.

Katie:
Excellent. And before we switch animals, we have a question. It lived in the water. Did it have lungs or did it have gills?

Bob Walters:
Oh, it has lungs.

Katie:
It has lungs.

Bob Walters:
It is definitely a lizard and it's an air breather. It would have to surface and take in air the way whales and porpoises have to and seals have to.

Katie:
Okay, so it definitely would have had to... If it was living in the water, that's okay, but it still would've had to then just come up for air.

Bob Walters:
Yes, come up for air literally.

Katie:
Excellent, okay.

Bob Walters:
[inaudible 00:31:31] the marine iguanas on the Galapagos Islands have to do.

Katie:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've seen them swim, never in person but on video, and they kind of swish their body because their tails aren't as long as this one.

Bob Walters:
Right. They have to undulate their entire body to do that, whereas a crocodile and alligators can use their tail. This animal definitely used their tail.

Katie:
Excellent, excellent. And we had one more friend asking... It was a carnivore, right?

Bob Walters:
Yes.

Katie:
Because you're saying those teeth were really sharp.

Bob Walters:
Definitely a carnivore.

Katie:
Definitely would've been eating the fish.

Bob Walters:
Oh, yes. I think a lot.

Katie:
Excellent. Okay, well that was really fun drawing the Tylosaurus with you. And here on the screen, we have another example of a Tylosaurus artwork that you have created. And again, that background color, like you were saying, it lived in the water. Now, I did yesterday, I added to my background, but I kind of want to do it again to this one as well. After the program today, I'm going to add in some more details to this after I erase my pencil line to help me remember that this animal would've definitely been swimming in the water.

Bob Walters:
Oh, yeah. Definitely an aquatic critter.

Katie:
Awesome. Okay. Well, so you had two animals planned for us today. What animal is next?

Bob Walters:
Let me get this loose. Our next animal up is not a dinosaur. It is a flying reptile called Quetzalcoatlus after the feathered serpent in Aztec mythology.

Katie:
Wow, so this isn't a dinosaur either.

Bob Walters:
It is not a dinosaur. It is a pterosaur. There are many kinds of pterosaurs from little tiny ones to animals as big as Quetzalcoatlus, which has a 40-plus-foot wingspan. That's bigger than a Piper Cub, an airplane.

Katie:
Whoa.

Bob Walters:
It's a very wide wingspan.

Katie:
Wow. Okay, but it still was alive along the same time as the Tylosaurus and dinosaurs?

Bob Walters:
The same time as T-Rex and company in the late Cretaceous Period.

Katie:
Wow. Cool. Okay, well let's take a close look at the fossils again to see what features we can learn about. So families at home, let's make some observations, just like we did for the Tylosaurus, before we start our drawings. What observations can you make about the animal's fossils that might be helpful for us when we are drawing? While you're sharing those, Bob and Tess, what can we learn by making these observations that might help us draw this animal more accurately?

Bob Walters:
Well, you notice on the head that it has a crest and also significantly, unlike a lot of other smaller pterosaurs, it is to toothless. It has no teeth. It has two very long beaks. They are relatively sharp, and we believe it probably fed primarily on fish.

Katie:
Ooh yeah, Iris and Juniper were definitely noticing that it has a huge beak, but there was no teeth in it.

Bob Walters:
No teeth.

Katie:
Wow. And someone's noticing that it had finger bones. Did this have fingers?

Bob Walters:
Yes. It has arm bones like ours that end in a hand, but the strange thing about the design of all the pterosaurs is that the rest of the wing, the largest part of the wing, is its little finger extended very, very, very long.

Katie:
Wow.

Bob Walters:
Tremendously long single finger that supports the rest of that wing.

Katie:
Very cool. Very cool.

Bob Walters:
It's strange. It's a strange design, but it worked for approximately a hundred million years so it must have been very effective.

Katie:
Yeah, I would say so. And someone's also so noticing that it has a really long neck.

Bob Walters:
Very.

Katie:
How would that have been helpful for the animal, or what can we learn from this long neck?

Bob Walters:
Well, it certainly would've helped it to fish. It could have dipped down, grabbed fish and then swept up back into the air. That neck would keep it its body out of the water.

Katie:
Excellent. Cool. The Miller family's wondering one more time, what was the wingspan of the animal?

Bob Walters:
Over 40 feet.

Katie:
Okay, so pretty large. Pretty large. Larger, maybe, then even the Tylosaurus' length.

Bob Walters:
Oh, possibly yes. Wingspan wider than the length of the Tylosaurus, yes. The picture at the bottom shows it with the wings outspread. There's controversy about whether these animals could actively propel themselves, fly efficiently. They possibly flapped occasionally to take off, but a lot of people think that these things primarily glided.

Katie:
Oh, wow. So they would just get up there and go?

Bob Walters:
Yeah, and you see that in number of seabirds today.

Tess Kissinger:
Albatross.

Bob Walters:
The albatross. Tess, good point. Albatross does that, and that's a seabird that hunts fish. It does a lot of gliding, just riding thermals coming up off the ocean.

Katie:
Wow, that's really cool. And one more observation from the Q&A. Someone is saying that it kind of reminds them of a giraffe.

Bob Walters:
Well, that long neck.

Katie:
Yeah, that long neck. I can-

Bob Walters:
Yes, although the head is much larger in comparison to the neck and body than a giraffe. In fact, look how big the head is compared to that relatively delicate body.

Katie:
Yeah, and those beaks are pretty impressive.

Bob Walters:
The body had to be relatively light to keep something this large afloat in the air. The body had to be very light, and the bones are hollow.

Katie:
Yeah, we just had that question in the Q&A. Someone was wondering if the bones were hollow. So even though this animal was huge, it was comparably light.

Bob Walters:
Yes.

Katie:
Wow. Really cool.

Bob Walters:
It couldn't have stayed in the air very long.

Katie:
Excellent. That's really cool. Okay. Well, are we ready to start our drawing?

Bob Walters:
Yes.

Katie:
Okay, so I'm going to ask the same question again. For this one, should we have it portrait or should we have it landscape?

Bob Walters:
I would say in this case, either one.

Katie:
Either one?

Bob Walters:
In the practice session, in landscape, wings were going off the page. Maybe you want to have this letter format.

Katie:
Okay. Yeah, because I was going to try it today this way. Yesterday when I tried it, my wings, I had to draw them as if it was hanging off the page because the wings are huge.

Bob Walters:
They are huge.

Katie:
I'm going to try it this way, I think, today.

Bob Walters:
Yeah, I think so.

Katie:
Families at home, you can try it whichever way. If you want to try it again afterward, you can try it again afterward in the other setup. So again, we're starting with our pencil, right?

Bob Walters:
You start with your pencil. We're going to do pretty much the same thing we did with Tylosaurus, two very, very narrow triangles.

Katie:
All right. This is for its long beak, right?

Bob Walters:
Yes. This is going to be the head.

Katie:
And I'm going to put these, Bob, over to the left side of my page but about in the middle, right?

Bob Walters:
Yeah. You-

Katie:
Because I need to have room for the wings.

Bob Walters:
Yeah, you want to have room for the very long wings.

Katie:
Okay, so let me draw my top triangle. And then you said it's a bottom triangle, just kind of like the Tylosaurus mouth.

Bob Walters:
Yeah, this is the skull. This is the lower jaw, or AKA mandible.

Katie:
Excellent.

Bob Walters:
I'm going to put a little curved line in here for those muscles.

Tess Kissinger:
Because they both ate fish. That's a very good fishing [inaudible 00:39:10].

Bob Walters:
Yes, it's good fishing design. Yes. Obviously, it was a good fishing design. I'm going to draw in a relatively large eye.

Katie:
Someone was noting about the large, what it looked like on the fossil, the eye socket, maybe.

Bob Walters:
Pretty big.

Katie:
It would've had a really large eye?

Bob Walters:
Relatively large eye. The eye wouldn't have filled up that entire socket area, but it would have a relatively large eye.

Katie:
Cool.

Bob Walters:
Because it wants to be able to see what's under the water or what's breaking the water surface quite a ways below it.

Katie:
Excellent.

Bob Walters:
I don't know if it had vision as good as a modern eagle, but maybe.

Katie:
Maybe.

Bob Walters:
Possibly. I'm going to put a little bump above that.

Katie:
A little bump above the eyeball?

Bob Walters:
Yep, like a little eyebrow.

Katie:
Okay. And we saw in the fossil it had that crest or something on top of its head.

Bob Walters:
Yeah. I'm going to put a bump like this on top of the head.

Katie:
Because [Shishu's 00:40:09] asking, "Why did it have that?"

Bob Walters:
It may have been simply for identification, decoration, mating, but it may really have served the purpose, like the keel on the tail of the Tylosaurus, to help direct it when it was flying.

Katie:
Ah, okay. Excellent. So now, you've got a curved line going down. That's for its long, skinny neck?

Bob Walters:
Yes.

Katie:
All right, so we're going to draw one curved line on the top and then there's also one-

Bob Walters:
At the bottom.

Katie:
... coming out of that mandible. Got it.

Bob Walters:
Now, I'm going to just draw a sort of round lump.

Katie:
All right. Is that its body?

Bob Walters:
That's going to be its body.

Katie:
All right, and it's connecting both of the neck lines and it's just kind of like an oval?

Bob Walters:
Yeah.

Katie:
Round lump?

Bob Walters:
Round lump. It's sort of potato shaped.

Katie:
A potato shape. Awesome.

Bob Walters:
When I ink this in, I'm probably going to make it slightly smaller than this. The body is remarkably small.

Katie:
Ooh, so what'd you do there? What's that?

Bob Walters:
I'm going to make a little sort of sausage shape here, two of them. This is the top of the back leg. I'm going to use a single line like this and then three little lines for the toes.

Katie:
Ooh. Sorry, It's just a little tricky to see. I got a sausage or a skinny, long, hot dog with one line coming out and then three little toes.

Bob Walters:
Yeah, three little toes sticking out [inaudible 00:41:43]. If you look into fossil, when you saw the photographs of the fossil, you could see that the feet are very small.

Katie:
Yeah. And kind of like how we did with the Tylosaurus paddles, we have, then, that second one that's kind of like a half sausage coming out of the bottom of the circle.

Bob Walters:
I'm just going to draw a line like this to about there. Three little lines here. Those are the fingers on the wing. And then really, really, really long one.

Katie:
Ooh. Is there any way you can move your camera slightly up a little bit so we can see how long that goes? Whoo. Okay, whoa. We've got, I guess, a long line going up, but then it stops. You had said those are three fingers?

Bob Walters:
Those are the fingers.

Katie:
And are those little sideways bumpies?

Bob Walters:
The actual arm bones, like our arm bones, and here with this hand. All the rest is a single finger bone supporting that tremendous wing.

Katie:
Oof. It has two of them, so we need to do it on the top and the bottom.

Bob Walters:
Bottom.

Katie:
So on the bottom, then, I'm going to draw a little line down with my three finger bumps and then the long finger down. Whew.

Bob Walters:
Yeah. As I said, a very strange design, but it worked very, very well for a very long time.

Katie:
And then you're just connecting that top line, the top of the wing or the end of the wing, all the way, curving it down. Kind of looks like a moon or a banana.

Bob Walters:
Yes, it's looks sort of like two bananas or a very long lunar shape. That's all we have to do for the sketch.

Katie:
Whoa, that's so cool. While we give families a minute or two to catch up and to make sure they have all their little finger bones and their little legs in there, I'm going to go over to the Q&A real quick because [Novalie 00:44:00] is wondering, "Do you know how long its beak was?"

Bob Walters:
Not immediately. I used to have this all stuffed in my head. The beak is really, really long. It's even longer than Pteranodon's, so you're talking about quite a few feet.

Katie:
Oh, wow. And then also, [Kashish 00:44:19] is wondering, "Does this animal have a tail?"

Bob Walters:
You can't see it here, but it has a very little tiny tail. It probably wouldn't show. We'll let it show a little bit here, but it probably wouldn't show. It would be between the legs. It would look sort of like that. It's just this little stub of a tail.

Katie:
If we want to put it on, you can put a little... Is that like a mini hot dog shape?

Bob Walters:
Yeah, just a little point, a little triangle. Very short.

Katie:
If we were looking at the other side of this animal, would we be able to see it then?

Bob Walters:
If you were looking from above, you'd be able to see it, or from directly below you'd be able to see it.

Katie:
Okay, but from this angle, it's there but it's just super tiny.

Bob Walters:
Yeah. It probably wouldn't even show that well.

Katie:
Excellent. Okay, well I'm going to put my pencil down and I'm going to get my marker, right?

Bob Walters:
Yes, marker.

Katie:
All right. Ooh, and it didn't have any teeth in its mouth so we don't have to draw them in?

Bob Walters:
No teeth.

Katie:
Okay.

Bob Walters:
Makes it slightly easier.

Katie:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bob Walters:
I'm going to raw in the eye. Put a little pupil in it.

Katie:
Ooh. Okay, so you just circled on the eye and then put a little dot?

Bob Walters:
[inaudible 00:45:34]. And I'll put the little eyebrow thing above it.

Katie:
That arch line?

Bob Walters:
Yep.

Katie:
Got it.

Bob Walters:
I'm going to draw the beak and bring the line up to the crest and finish the crest.

Katie:
Okay, so just that top triangle line for the beak, but then you are highlighting that crest as well.

Bob Walters:
[crosstalk 00:45:59] curve it to the crest and curve it back.

Katie:
Excellent. Got it.

Bob Walters:
I'm just going to bring the mouth straight back to there.

Katie:
To under the eye?

Bob Walters:
Yes, under the eye. And the lower jaw.

Katie:
So just tracing that beak.

Bob Walters:
I'm going to put a little line behind this like a wrinkle there, and then the bottom jaw. I'm going to curve that up a little bit.

Katie:
Cool. Now, we had that muscle line in the mouth.

Bob Walters:
Yep. Just trace over that.

Katie:
Cool.

Bob Walters:
We don't know what kind of tongue these things would have. I'm going to give it a little ear opening back here, and the nostril would be way up here.

Katie:
So the nostril, again, could just be like a little line on the top beak?

Bob Walters:
Yeah, just put a little dot there.

Katie:
And then the ear, is it similar to the Tylosaurus' where it's just a little dot?

Bob Walters:
Just a little dot, possibly a line behind it.

Katie:
Cool.

Bob Walters:
The neck. Skinny neck.

Katie:
Ooh. Okay, so we're going to trace both of the neck lines back to where it meets the body?

Bob Walters:
Meets the body. Just trace over the lines you drew before.

Katie:
Okay, excellent.

Bob Walters:
Now, I'm going to do the underside of the body. I'm going to change it a little bit since [inaudible 00:47:55] not such a good shape that I had there. There. I'm going above my original sketch line.

Katie:
So you're drawing the belly of it. It's going to meet up to that top leg.

Bob Walters:
Yep, the leg that's closest to you.

Katie:
Got it. Cool.

Bob Walters:
Now, I'm going to start on the wing.

Katie:
So tracing that top line.

Bob Walters:
Yep.

Katie:
Of the wing. Ooh, it's stopping at the fingers, right?

Bob Walters:
Stop at them fingers.

Katie:
Trace them?

Bob Walters:
Just draw those little fingers in.

Katie:
Neat. And there was three of them?

Bob Walters:
Three.

Katie:
Okay.

Tess Kissinger:
The fourth one is the pinky. That's what holds up the top of the wing.

Bob Walters:
Now, you're going to draw a line parallel.

Katie:
Ooh, okay.

Bob Walters:
It's two lines pair parallel to the outside of the arm. That's the actual arm. It has the same bones that we have. It has a humerus.

Katie:
So a line that runs alongside that wing part, but comes out of the body. Cool.

Bob Walters:
This would be what are the deltoid muscle down here. [inaudible 00:49:28] the top.

Katie:
Tracing that top part of the wing.

Bob Walters:
And come down.

Katie:
Cool, so then that bottom part of the wing just meets right back with the body.

Bob Walters:
Body.

Katie:
Excellent.

Bob Walters:
And remember that in this position, we're seeing it at a slight perspective so that the wing actually appears a little bit shorter because it's angled than it would actually be if you saw it from above. It would actually probably go out even further.

Katie:
Excellent. Whoo.

Bob Walters:
Another parallel line.

Katie:
Starting after the fingers?

Bob Walters:
Yes.

Katie:
Does it go all the way to the tip?

Bob Walters:
All the way to the tip.

Tess Kissinger:
Because that is another finger.

Bob Walters:
Yes, this is another finger.

Katie:
So that's the long finger bone?

Bob Walters:
Yes.

Katie:
Ooh, cool.

Bob Walters:
It's certainly interesting paleo engineering. All right, I got to do rest of the body. Stick the tail on for laughs.

Katie:
All right. I didn't add the tail for mine.

Bob Walters:
Okay, I'm going to do that. I'm just going to draw the whole leg in, so just follow what I do when I get done.

Katie:
So you connected that line to that circle.

Bob Walters:
Yep.

Katie:
Okay. Oh, no. Okay, so I accidentally just did the whole circle. That's okay, right?

Bob Walters:
That's all right.

Katie:
All right. This is my draft. The second leg, I'll connect them.

Bob Walters:
You're going to do the same thing you did up here down here.

Katie:
All right, tracing that bottom wing. All right, adding in that line for the arm.

Bob Walters:
And-

Katie:
That long finger bone?

Bob Walters:
... the long finger bone. I'm going to show where the wing... Actually attach it to the body. I going to indicate a breastbone.

Katie:
So you just drew a sketchy-ish line?

Bob Walters:
Yeah. A few lines there.

Katie:
Where it attaches and then for the... So the breastbone?

Bob Walters:
Yes, right here. I'm going to draw some lines like this, which you don't have to, just indicate how the wing comes out.

Katie:
Cool.

Bob Walters:
Now, these animals may have been covered with a downy, furry [pilation 00:53:18] to insulate them.

Tess Kissinger:
Pilation means hair.

Bob Walters:
Yeah, just hairy. We know this from a pterosaur called Sordes pilosus, which definitely had the fuzz.

Katie:
Was it short?

Bob Walters:
Very short.

Katie:
Short fuzz.

Bob Walters:
It's very short so at a distance, you probably... Don't make fuzzy stuff all over... At a distance like this, you really wouldn't be able to see it very well. Coloration is up to you. We just don't know.

There would not be fur on these wings, and they're very, very thin. If you saw this at this angle with the sun behind it, they would probably be translucent.

Tess Kissinger:
Translucent means see-through.

Bob Walters:
Light would show through it.

Katie:
Excellent.

Bob Walters:
They were probably highly vascularized, had a lot of blood vessels in it, so not only did it use it to fly, but as it flew it could absorb solar radiation like solar panels.

Katie:
So vacillated, it means it had veins in the wings?

Bob Walters:
Yeah.

Katie:
Excellent.

Bob Walters:
Now, we don't know, there's a there's argument about this, whether these animals were what is called cold-blooded or warm-blooded. Cold-blooded simply means that you get most of your energy from the external environment, although obviously reptiles eat food and produce heat energy that way. Mammals, which are considered warm-blooded, regulate their temperature internally and are not so dependent on external temperature and sunlight.

Katie:
Wow. But we're not sure if this animal was warm-blooded or cold-blooded?

Bob Walters:
[inaudible 00:55:00].

Katie:
We don't know yet. We don't know.

Bob Walters:
We just don't know. A lot of people theorize that they are possibly warm-blooded.

Katie:
Ah.

Tess Kissinger:
But they made use of the sun.

Bob Walters:
Yes. As Tess said, but they also certainly made use of the sun with its wings.

Katie:
We have a question not related to the wings, but relating again to the neck. Do you know how long the neck was?

Bob Walters:
Oh, it's like six, seven feet long.

Katie:
All right.

Bob Walters:
Don't forget to sign.

Katie:
Oh. I'm going to put it down here by the wing. Is there a specific place you like to sign yours normally?

Bob Walters:
Usually not quite close to the... I usually sign it lower down and have a nice circle C giving me the copyright to it. Now, if you want to copyright it, by all means do so.

Katie:
Here's mine for now. I put mine by the wing. So this one, I fit the whole wing on there. Yesterday, I colored it in and it's kind hanging off. That's okay.

Bob Walters:
Nice colors, though.

Katie:
Thank you, thank you. But today, no hanging off. I made it all on there. So the next step is to add the color and... Or first to erase the pencil, right? So after the program-

Bob Walters:
Erase the pencil.

Katie:
... we can erase the pencil.

Bob Walters:
And then do your coloration. Here again, we do not know the colors. In the picture I have here, those colors are conjectural.

Katie:
Okay. You just chose those based on... That's what you were feeling like, or that's based on what we know about the animal? It might have been those colors?

Bob Walters:
Might have been is the operative word.

Katie:
I chose an orange-ish color for mine yesterday.

Bob Walters:
We just don't know. When you see modern seabirds, you see a wide range of coloration.

Katie:
Who knows, right? Excellent. Well, it was really fun drawing alongside you both today, and it was really fun to draw alongside everyone at home. The comments in the Q&A were really fun. Lots of good jobs to everyone. Excellent job, all the families at home.

Thanks for joining us today for our family program online. Today we, again, learned how to draw this Tylosaurus and the Quetzalcoatlus from Bob and Tess. After the show, we hope that you will color these in and add more details to the environment.

Today, we also got to see some examples in some of the slides of some of Bob and Tess' amazing artwork. But if you're in interested in some more of Bob and Tess' amazing artwork, please check out their amazing book, Discovering Dinosaurs. Here's my copy right here. Our family loves to look at the book together, actually. We really like how the cover is textured. My son really likes to just rub his hand over it. That's a really fun part about it. I love that part, too. If you want to draw along more with Bob and Tess, you can re-watch and enjoy some of our previous programs that we've had with Bob and Tess here on our Family Programs program. Bob and Tess, again, thank you so much for joining us today.

Bob Walters:
Thank you.

Tess Kissinger:
This was a lot of fun.

Katie:
We also hope, families at home, to see some of your drawings. Please send in your images to us. Here at the Family Programs team, we'd love to see them. There's my coloring ins from yesterday. I'm sharing mine with you, and we hope that you'll share yours with us, too.

We hope that you'll join us for more fossil fun over the entire week. Please visit our website for more information on any of these programs, and be sure to check out next week's program in particular. It's another family program where we're going to learn about one of the animals we just drew today, the Quetzalcoatlus, and we're going to use what we learn in that program, and maybe even some from today, to inspire us to move and dance.

Local Motion Project is going to be joining us on screen with the museum team to help us be inspired to dance and get creative. They've joined us for our other programs in the past. We've danced based on the Milky Way and on fish movements but next weekend, we're just going to focus on movements inspired by the Quetzalcoatlus. That program will be in a bilingual format of Spanish and English. We hope that you all will be able to join us. To sign up, you can find a link on the Celebration of Fossils page on the museum's website. We'll send out a follow-up email this week with links to both our Celebrations of Fossil website and next week's family program, too.

But if you're interested in joining us here at Natural History at Home beyond November, on the next slide you'll see a preview of our upcoming programs. Next month, we will welcome back Lara Noren to learn about bioluminescence in the ocean. Should be a fun time.

Caregivers, there will also be a short survey for you to fill out following the program. Please take a few minutes to complete it by using that link. That will be in the browser after we close the webinar. It'll also be in the follow-up email that we send this week. We are excited to hear feedback so we can continue to bring meaningful family programming to you and your family.

Thank you again so much for joining us. We hope that you will join us here in the future. We look forward to seeing you online again in the future.

I see lots of thank you's to Bob and Tess. I see lots of thank you's to all of us here at the museum. We want to say thank you again to you, Bob and Tess, and to you, Claire, for joining us today. Thank you so much. Hope to have you all back again. Thanks, everyone.

Tess Kissinger:
Bye.

Archived Webinar

This Zoom webinar with paleoartists Bob Walters and Tess Kissinger aired November 13, 2021, as part of the series "A Celebration of Fossils: Cretaceous Life in Motion." Watch a recording in the player above.

Description

In this video, two of the world’s top paleoartists, Bob Walters and Tess Kissinger, teach you and your family how to sketch your own paleo portraits! Follow along as Bob makes sketches of two prehistoric reptiles from the Cretaceous Period: a Tylosaurus and a Quetzalcoatlus. As you sketch, they will talk about how they use scientific evidence to create their art.

Moderator: Katie Derloshon, a museum educator at the National Museum of Natural History

Related Resources

Resource Type
Hands-On ActivitiesArts & CraftsVideos and Webcasts
Grade Level
K-2, 3-5
Topics
Paleontology
Exhibit
David H. Koch Hall of Fossils - Deep Time