Treetop Birdlizard

Treetop Birdlizard

A Chapter by Saurian Guardian
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Another short story about Sinornithosaurus.

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The ancestry of raptors is somewhat confusing, the earliest specimens from the late Jurassic/early Cretaceous. But some of the most complete early Dromaeosaurids come from sites in Liaoning, China, where the volcanic ash preserves fossils in incredible detail. Here, in the early Cretaceous, live two of the most complete early Dromaeosaurids known. These two amazing raptor species will be the characters in our next stories. They are Microraptor gui and Sinornithosaurus milleni, the tree-climbing raptors.  

….

 Fvvvhhhbbit. 

A large locust lands on a branch. It is ever aware of all that is going on around it. It needs to be; in these primeval Chinese forests almost every creature is out to get him. The locust feels the air change, he jumps, just in time.

Whhump! Two large sickle-shaped claws strike the exact spot where the locust was perched.

The claws belong to a male Sinornithosaurus milleni, he has been stalking the locust while concealed in the branches of another tree. Unfortunately, the locust flew away the very moment he jumped from his hiding place. Sinornithosaurus has the longest arms relative to its leg length of any dinosaur, and adults have long flight feathers on their arms, and shorter ones on their legs. But although they have flight feathers, the closest they come to flying is awkwardly flapping their arms once or twice while they’re  gliding. This flapping is only used when desperately needed, like when trying to escape the jaws of predators.

Like Dilong paradoxus, a primitive Tyrannosaur. Our Sinornithosaurus, or Sino for short, can see a pack of those prowling on the forest floor. These are far cry from the forty foot behemoths of the late Cretaceous. These six foot tyrants travel in large, unruly family groups, combing the forests for sustenance, Sinornithosaurs included.

Sino shudders, he knows what Dilong are capable of. He’s seen other Sinornithosaurus ripped to shreds, their ebony feathers torn from their body in a feeding frenzy. He leaps from his perch, extending his wings and folding his legs under his body. Contracting skin muscles in his legs, he flicks the flight feathers out to the sides to give him a greater surface area to enhance his gliding. Although great gliders, Sinornithosaurus are nothing compared to the Microraptor, gliders par-excellence.

Whhump! Sino land’s on a tree trunk thirty feet away from his previous perch. The infamous killing-claw of Dromaeosaurids has more uses than just for butchering prey. In arboreal raptor species, the claws are used to anchor the dinosaur once it lands on a tree trunk. Sino’s claws pierce the bark as he shinnies up the tree. Once he reaches the crown, he surveys the surrounding area. He spots something in the branches of ancient conifer. A male Confuciusornis sanctus, a primitive species of bird, is pecking at the bark, looking for a meal. The males differ from the females in having two long tail feathers that trail behind him like streamers. 

A bird for brunch, not bad for a meter long carnivore. Sino leaps to a closer tree. Dromaeosaurids have binocular vision, it’s crucial for judging distance. He knows that he is close enough to the tree to glide with the accuracy needed when catching a flying bird. 

He flings himself from the branch, the distance between the two trees is about six meters, Sino could easily glide twice that distance. The Confuciusornis hears the takeoff, but it reacts too late. Sino rips at the bird’s indigo, orange and white body, sending clumps of feathers floating to the ground. All is lost for the Confuciusornis, his back snapped like a pencil when Sino pounced on him. His delicate bones are broken by the erratic slashing of Sino’s killing claw. Everything is over in an instant.

The Confuciusornis is about the size of a crow, it is more than enough for Sino to eat at one sitting. He looks for a good spot to eat the bird. An abandoned nest looks promising. He drags his kill up to the platform-like nest, which he identifies to belong to a Microraptor species. Sino starts gnawing on the carcass, he is in a very good mood, he doesn’t make a kill of this size very often, it will feed him for days. 

….

 Sino wakes up after a nights rest. He slept well. The warm feeling of bird meat digesting inside of him soothed him to sleep. Dromaeosaurids like all Theropods, are warm-blooded, endothermic. Food brings them warmth. 

He stands up and awkwardly hops onto an outstretched branch. The sun is just filtering down through the branches. All dinosaurs love to sunbathe, it warms up their internal fires. Sino is no exception, he spreads his arms so that the rays gently caress his feathers. He is in a joyful mood, he has enough meat at his kill to feed not only him, but maybe enough to attract a potential mate.

Sino is a young adult, he has yet to find a partner. Sinornithosaurus mate for life, a characteristic of Dromaeosaurids, Troodontids, and Oviraptorosaurs. These all share a high IQ, about as smart as an eagle, and have a wide range of interesting mating rituals. Sinornithosaurus milleni offer the females freshly killed meat, to show that the male can provide. Sino wants a mate, he wants to have his own offspring. To score a mate, he needs to clean up the nest. 

….

There! The nest looks quite nice! 

He removed some old feathers that the nest’s previous owner had placed along the sides and added some of his own fluffy down. Normally he would build his own, but he was lucky to make a kill in the same tree as an inactive Microraptor nest. He thinks it looks quite splendid. He just needs to attract a mate.

Hhhooook. Sino sends a mating call deep into the forest. Hhhooook, Hhhooook, HHhhohOooook.

HhhOOoook. A faint reply comes from a thick patch of conifers. Sino stands as tall as he can, he fills his lungs with air.

Ghrawwaak. This call has a different meaning than the others. The first could be loosely translated to; I’m an available bachelor, and I’m ready to make a commitment. The second; I’m here waiting for you, I’m young and healthy, I’m here waiting. 

Sino soon sees what he has been waiting for, the shape of another Sinornithosaurus gliding from tree to tree. He stands on tiptoes, trying to get a better look at this female. She looks perfect. He strains to see her better, but succeeds in falling over in the nest. He rights himself; the female is fifteen feet from his post. He stands up and spreads his wings, using the muscles in his skin to fan the feathers into an impressive display. The female lands at the rim of his nest, she hops down into the elaborately decorated jumble of twigs that will serve as their dance floor.           

Sino starts the first part of the mating dance, raising his head high in the air, arching his neck and puffing up the feathers on his breast. For this part, he hast to expose the most vulnerable area of his body: his underbelly. It’s a sign of trust, if the female is interested, she will do the same. He flexes and then contracts his skin muscles, fanning his feathers out as far as they will go, then snapping them back together. He does this while walking in a semicircle around the young female, keeping his claws out of view to eliminate any suggestion of a threat. Sino bends down, picks up the Confuciusornis in his mouth and walks over to her. He drops it at her feet. 

She looks at the bird, eats her fill and then stares at Sino .The female has been courted by other males this season, the first year she tried for a mate all of her suitors were either too pushy, skinny or parasite infested. Sino however is none of these, his movements are graceful, he is well fed, and waits for her to contribute to the dance. 10 out of 10 by her standards.  

She joins in the dance.

….

Two days have passed, and the pair is on to the last stage of the courtship. They have spent every waking moment together, the female evaluating Sino, and Sino being evaluated. 

Their pair-bond is nearly cemented, but the last part of the courtship is lengthy but simple. They need to spend time together. Since Sinornithosaurus have shared duties, they have to prove that each can hunt to provide for the next generation.

It is the females turn to bring food to Sino. They spent the entire night curled up together in their nest, and the first part of their morning was spent grooming. Grooming each other serves multiple functions, it relives tension, strengthens the pair-bond and of course keeps their feathers clean.  

Sino is elated. This female, his consort, he hopes to spend the rest of his life with. She has proven herself to him as he has to her, and he knows that she is the female he wants to have chicks with.

He has been sleeping for most of the time his female has been out, and suddenly awakes to a familiar, yet foreign smell. 

On a branch four feet away from his nest, is a strange female Sinornithosaurus. She starts toward him. Sino is nervous, this female is older than his, bulkier and unattached. He stands up and charges the female, in a full blown threat display. He doesn’t want this female, he doesn’t want any other female but his consort. The female stares at him, she retreats, jumping from the branch and gliding away. Sino hisses, he is happy he has driven the female from their territory.   

His mate returns, she has caught a small mammal and drops it at Sino’s feet. She jerks her head up and her pupils dilate. She trots over to the spot where the old female had perched, she sniffs the branch, rubs her scent glands on the branch and hisses.

Sino walks over to his female, they muzzle-nuzzle for a moment, return to the nest, and begin to groom each other. 

….

A year has passed, and Sino and the female are now a mated pair, and proud parents. 

His mate hops up to the nest, where Sino has been sitting. It has been her turn to hunt, but, she has brought back nothing, or so it appears. She squawks, and four little fuzzy heads peek out from underneath Sino. He raises his body and the fluffy, sparrow sized babies, beg for food from their mom. Sino’s mate opens her mouth, and the biggest chick thrusts its head down her throat. 

She coughs up a thick liquid of half digested meat. The chick gobbles up the meat milkshake, the others begging for some. They all eventually get their share.     

Sino and his mate sit in their nest, the chicks huddling underneath their parents. The soft down lining the nest keeps them warm, but they feel most comfortable curled up against their loving parents.

Sino and his mate lie down, darkness is falling and the chicks are tired. 

The family curls up together in their nest, stuffed, warm, and happy.

 

 

Raptor Profile:

Sinornithosaurus milleni, is a small raptor, one meter long, with extremely long arms, longest relative to leg length of any dinosaur. It was discovered in Liaoning, China, where the fine volcanic ash preserved may creatures in incredible detail. Sinornithosaurus was the first Dromaeosaurid to be found to have feathers. A detailed study of the skull shows that raptors have more in common with the earliest known bird, Archaeopteryx than previously thought. 

Sinornithosaurus lived in Liaoning China in the Early Cretaceous period. 



© 2012 Saurian Guardian


My Review

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Featured Review

WOW!!!!!This is so amazing! You are an amazing writer. There are no words! I enjoyed this so much! Like oh my goodness!! Such a lovely story! You truly have a talent! Great work,Dami! This is excellent!! I never expected less than that,but this went way above and beyond my expectations!!! Wow! Give yourself a pat on the back!! * applauds you* Excellent job! As always!

-Raya

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Saurian Guardian

6 Years Ago

Thank you so much hun
 Soul Fire

6 Years Ago

You are so welcome (:



Reviews

Okay, again, awesomeness ahaha. I really love how you talk about the different dinosaurs and then write in their perspectives sort of. It's totally awesome and just a good idea for this whole story in general. keep it up!

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Saurian Guardian

6 Years Ago

Thank you :3
WOW!!!!!This is so amazing! You are an amazing writer. There are no words! I enjoyed this so much! Like oh my goodness!! Such a lovely story! You truly have a talent! Great work,Dami! This is excellent!! I never expected less than that,but this went way above and beyond my expectations!!! Wow! Give yourself a pat on the back!! * applauds you* Excellent job! As always!

-Raya

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Saurian Guardian

6 Years Ago

Thank you so much hun
 Soul Fire

6 Years Ago

You are so welcome (:

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Added on August 27, 2012
Last Updated on August 27, 2012


Author

Saurian Guardian
Saurian Guardian

Canada



About
Hi, Im Damien. Im currently a student from Ontario with a passion for art and poetry. Ive also written a few short stories and plan on continuing my writing as the year progresses. I love designing .. more..

Writing