Spectember 2022 #01: Arboreal Ornithopod

Despite some minor delays, it’s time once again for #Spectember – when I dive back into the big pile of speculative evolution concepts that you all submitted to me in 2020, and try to get through a few more of the backlog.

(…There’s still over 50 of them left. This is going to take a while.)

So today’s concept comes from an anonymous submitter, who requested an arboreal ornithopod dinosaur:

A digital illustration of a speculative tree-climbing squirrel-like dinosaur clinging onto a narrow trunk. It has an owl-like head, short arms with three-clawed hands, parrot-like feet with two forward-facing toes and two backward-facing toes, and a very long tail. Its whole body is covered in a thick fluffy coat of fur-like protofeathers.
Anevasmasaura polaris

Anevasmasaura polaris is a small tree-climbing ornithopod that inhabits the temperate southern polar forests of the Early Cretaceous, descended from a Leaellynasaura-like ancestor. About 1m long (~3’3″), with over half that being just its long tail, it has a lifestyle similar to modern squirrels and lemurs – spending most of its time leaping around high up in the branches and only rarely venturing down to ground level.

It has zygodactyl feet, with the first and fourth toes reversed, and sharp curved claws that help it climb and grasp onto vertical tree trunks. Its face is short-snouted and superficially owl-like, with large forward-facing eyes that give it both depth perception and good night vision during the long dark polar winters.

Its diet is primarily herbivorous, using its short pointed beak to feed on the fruits and seeds of plants like cycads, ginkgoes, and conifiers, but it will also opportunistically eat invertebrates, eggs, and smaller vertebrates.

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