Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Vintage Dinosaur Art: About Dinosaurs

It might have one of the most generic titles going, but About Dinosaurs (1972) distinguishes itself with Michael Spink's highly distinctive illustrations. Ditching the normal quasi-realistic style that illustrators attempt in educational books like this, Spink instead opts for monochrome, crosshatched beasties against simple backgrounds with bold washes. It's a delightfully unusual approach.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Vintage Dinosaur Art: All About Dinosaurs - Part 2

Onwards with All About Dinosaurs, a book written by the awesome Roy Chapman Andrews, he of Gobi fossil-hunting fame, and illustrated by Thomas Voter. Now, you know you're reading a vintage dinosaur book when...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Vintage Dinosaur Art: All About Dinosaurs

While it's exciting enough to get my mits on a book as genuinely vintage as All About Dinosaurs (1953), that this book was written by the legendary Roy Chapman Andrews is an extra special treat. This is a book that's part palaeontology lesson, part autobiography, with Andrews unable to resist relaying a few tales of derring-do. Illustrations are provided by Thomas W Voter, and essentially live up to expectation - these are the tail-dragging, slothful, reptilian flesh-barges of old, the 'great fossil lizards' that now seem as long-dead as the real beasts that inspired them. Oh yes, and a certain sauropod is stubbornly referred to as "Brontosaurus".

Monday, March 17, 2014

Down on the farm

What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare at huge, grotesque models of extinct animals? When people ask me why I am willing to wade through hordes of screaming rugrats in order to gaze upon such eyesores, I only have to point them to the famous poem that Wordsworth didn't write. And with that in mind, Niroot and I recently took a trip down to Godstone Farm in Surrey (that's in the south east of England, for all you forrins) to check out their newly-purchased menagerie of monstrosities.

(All photos by me, unless they're by Niroot, in which case they're marked 'NP'.)

I've got a strong urge to fly...but I got nowhere to fly to

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Prehistoric Monsters did the Strangest Things

While it would probably be more honest to replace 'did' with 'were' in the title of Prehistoric Monsters did the Strangest Things, it certainly makes the book an intriguing prospect. Exactly what were these antedeluvian beasties up to when not ineffectively disguising themselves with pondweed? Well, read on! Published in 1974 in the States, I'm borrowing this book from reader Patrick Bate. Hats (formed of aquatic vegetation) off to him.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Robosaurs in Rotterdam

Rotterdam seems to be a city in which every puffed-up, ever-so-avant garde architect of the last fifty years has been given free rein to erect whatever glass, steel, and/or jutting concrete monstrosity that they fancy. (As John Conway would say, 'take that, Rotterdam!') It seems only fitting, then, that the city should play host to the Living Dinosaurs expo - an exhibition of diverse, often impressively large, but never less than butt-ugly robot dinosaurs. Fans of prehistory-related kitsch will have a field day; palaeontologists may wish to avert their eyes.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Vintage Dinosaur Art: The Usborne Book of Dinosaurs

Whenever I mention Luis Rey in the context of being a palaeoartist whose work I'm rather fond of, I am normally met with a wrinkled nose, an arched eyebrow and an exclamation along the lines of 'really!?!'. Certainly Rey has his fair share of detractors, and one of the most common criticisms of his more recent work is that he's taken leave of his senses in Photoshop, cloning dinosaurs here, smearing photomanipulations there, and generally making a bit of a mess. There seems to be a quite widely held opinion that Rey's work is better when he sticks to paint and pencils. With that in mind, hopefully even the most ardent Rey-o-phobes will be interested in (and maybe even appreciate) seeing some early Rey – from 1993, in fact – in The Usborne Book of Dinosaurs.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Society of Palaeontology Fanciers

I have this compulsion that occasionally rises up, demands attention, prompts feverish work, and subsides until it sees fit to return. I am compelled to design the kinds of paleontology-inspired apparel, stickers, and whatnot that I'd like to wear. I'm kind of picky when it comes to graphic shirts, you see, and when I visit a big museum I'm always hoping that they'll have designs than hit me in my sweet spot. Let's call it graphic simplicity. If you've been hanging around here, you may remember me sharing such designs here in the past - I Left My Heart in a Prehistoric Age, Dinosaur Hearts, and of course the set of minimalist family crests that I came to call Cladistic Heraldry.

If this kind of stuff hits your sweet spot too, well, I've got some damn splendid news. I recently created a set of designs and I think they're pretty nice. I call the set The Society of Palaeontology Fanciers, and like the other projects I mentioned above, it gives to the chance to proclaim your allegiances to extinct taxa to the whole world.

These are all seven of the first batch. The impetus for the set came when I was doodling, and started playing with minimalistic renderings of stem-birds. I have to say that as I worked on the design above, of a vaguely deinonychosaurish animal, it was freeing to not to have its damned arms sticking out. When it comes to artistic renderings of animals closely related to modern birds, I find I am less and less satisfied with artists staying close to skeletal contours. In my doodling, I came to challenge myself to find a way to an iconic rendering of just such an animal. I didn't want it to be easily confused with a modern bird; or if it was on first glance, I want it to inspire a double take. Once I felt that I'd achieved it, I was in full-throttle design mode and I played with various non-avian dinosaur forms. Each took on a life of its own. One of the fun challenges of these sets I like to do is to resolve drastically differently scaled animals into a cohesive series. Once my dinosaurs were done, I was compelled to do a trilobite, specifically the Cambrian Oryctocephalus.

I'm flattered by the fact that when I do projects like this I get a lot of "do such and such!" or "what about whatchamataxon?" comments. I certainly want to do more. Before I do any more for extinct critters, however, I'm working on a set in hopes of doing a tiny bit to help extant raptors from going extinct. These I hope to realize as genuine embroidered patches which will be sold in the Indiana Raptor Center's new gift shop, and maybe down the line I could even have the capital to make patches of my paleontology designs, as well.

Anyhow, if you're moved to pick up a shirt or two, these are available in the base colors above, as white designs on dark colored shirts, or as black designs on light colored shirts, so no matter your preferred style and color, there should be something to your liking.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mesozoic Miscellany 64

In the News

Atopodentatus! Atopodentatus! What in the heck is going on with that crazy mug? Brian Switek and Jaime Headden both sum up this Triassic marine reptile and its bizarre split, needle-toothed maw.

Gobivenator isn't as weird as Atopodentatus, but hey. New troodontid from Mongolia. More from Dave Hone, Everything Dinosaur, and Nobu Tamura.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

So, this silver age comic called The Wanderers once featured a dude morphing into a gloriously ugly Deinonychus. For the sole purpose of getting Biblical with a female Deinonychus. When do we get to the point that Hollywood is desperate enough to make this?

Dr. Michael Ryan's Palaeoblog is back!

At the Integrative Paleontologists, Sarah Werning drops some learning... about the blossoming world of paleontology podcasts. Please note that we also added a list of these to our sidebar. Also, Andy Farke discusses dinosaurs and chocolate.

The CBS Sherlock Holmes adaptation Elementary recently featured some consarned black market fossil rustlers. Switek's got it covered.

Dr. Bakker answers a burnin' question about the feet of Dipsy the Diplodocus at the Beyond Bones blog.

Luis Rey's artwork was featured in the closing credits of Walking With Dinosaurs 3D, which is great for Luis... only they didn't like, credit him. At his blog, Rey lays out all of the work that was featured. Also, in case you haven't heard, there is going to be a Cretaceous Cut of WWD3D on its Deluxe Edition 3D Blu-ray, so you may now applaud, hoot, holler, fist-pump, or stoically nod in approval. Whatever it is you do.

Mark Witton wants to write about the crocodyliformes of the Wealden Supergroup, so he's going to do it, dammit. Whether you like it or not!

Matt Martyniuk wants to write about the recently proposed Bohaiornithid clade of enantornithes, so he's going to do it, dammit. Whether you like it or not!

At Paleoillustrata, Stu Pond wrote about the beginning of his life as a PhD student, including much reviewing of literature for his research into Polacanthus foxii. Good luck, Stu!

Trish Arnold is awesome, so she created dinosaur versions of the popular Wuzzles™ characters. If you're not on Twitter, she's reason enough to join.

Paleoart Pick In honor of Stu Pond and his studies, let's go with Polacanthus, shall we? Here's the most accurate one I've been able to find in an exhausting, eye-bleeding twelve hours of intense internetting. It's the work of Bill Swets, a retired fireman in Fort Collins, Colorado, who used to operate the Swetsville Zoo, populated by his own metal animal sculptures. Here's Polly Polacanthus.

Polly Polacanthus
Photo © Paul Turner, via Flickr.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Prehistoric Animals (Brooke Bond Picture Cards)

Back when I were a wee lad, I were an avid collector of the various prehistory-themed picture cards that were given away with PG Tips teabags, Jacobs' dinosaur-shaped biscuits and the like. It's a practice that seems to have gone the way of PG Tips' ill-advised chimp-fronted advertising campaigns, but one with a long and noble prior history (with the caveat that the idea stems from the inclusion of picture cards in fag* packets, of course). Teabag peddlers Brooke Bond, who themselves owned PG Tips before being swallowed by sinister corporate behemoth Omnicor...uh...Unilever, produced a number of picture card series back in the day. Prehistoric Animals dates from 1972 (according to my dodgy internet-based research - the album itself isn't dated), and just how well some of the illustrations have aged may well surprise you.