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This topic sort-of fell into my lap last night: the cats were going mental chasing each other around the flat while I sat half-reclined on the sofa. Bella, the older and smarter of the pair, ran toward me and swerved off to my side at the last minute. Kitty, the 18 month old mental patient, couldn’t turn quickly enough and tried to jump clear over my head. She missed and tried to get a foothold on my forehead. It all happened so fast I didn’t have time to register which claw made which mark.

So this is what superficial scratches on non-fleshy body parts look like after 14 hours. It bled like crazy at the time – thank goodness I’m no longer on the warfarin. The first image is under yellow-spectrum artificial lighting at a distance of 60 cm; the second is in clear but slightly cloudy daylight. The former is very good for showing how raised it is but the colour is a lot more reliable in the latter.

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Artificial Light

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Daylight

Why blog about this? Illustrating the extinct necessarily involves depicting intraspecific behaviour that isn’t right there in front of you. There is good evidence that tyrannosaurs bit each other in the face and head quite often – it’s what animals do to hone their skills, protect their interests, and establish a hierarchy. Admittedly a cat’s claws will not leave the same marks that a banana-shaped tooth would make – nor are the communicable infections comparable. Fortunately there are fore-limb claw and toenail impressions that can be illustrated. for example: we know that Protoceratops and Velociraptor fought. After they fought, assuming a victorious Protoceratops, what did the edges of his frill look like as he snuffled off triumphantly? Then there’s the more serious “whacked by a Therizinosaur claw” look which, I’m given to understand, is all the rage at the moment. The last thing you want is a prehistoric animal that looks “mint in box”. For this reason, I shall be doing a number of posts in the coming weeks about external damage – or the story you can tell from a scene by the disfiguration of the principle characters. This could be the start of forensic palaeoart…

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