Gracing the cover of Mesozoic Birds are a pair of squabbling Boluochia, which lived 120 million years ago in what is now northeastern China. The region is home to fantastically preserved fossil deposits that have yielded most of the feathered specimens to date. Boluochia was among the first of these.
Martyniuk picked it for the cover because it occupies the intersection of dinosaur and avian that he finds so fascinating. “It’s approaching modern birds, but has these weird, big teeth,” he said.
The field guide premise is intended to de-mystify those early creatures, which people often “look at as fantastic, dragon-like things that are hyper-real. By presenting them this way, it highlights the fact that these were, once upon a time, real animals that looked and behaved similarly to the way animals do today,” Martyniuk said.