Monday, October 5, 2015

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Purnell's Find Out About Prehistoric Animals

Not for the first time, here's a fantastic 1970s book on prehistoric animals from Purnell, purveyors of fine model photography and anachronistic pop-up battles. Find Out About Prehistoric Animals is considerably more hefty than any Purnell to previously feature on this blog, and it's gloriously packed full of wonderfully retro illustrations from a number of artists. While individual pieces aren't credited, we are at least informed that the artists included Eric Jewell Associates, Illustra, John Barber, Angus McBride, Sean Rudman, Dan Escott, Colin Rattray, Vanessa Luff, Gerry Embleton, Phil Green, George Underwood and - oh yes - John Sibbick. Nine years before even the Normanpedia. Blimey.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Dinosaurs! The 1987 Childcraft Annual - Last Hurrah

There's probably a good point at which to stop posting about the same 1980s children's dinosaur book, but it isn't before you've covered any hadrosaurs. Therefore, please be welcoming of one last round of the Childcraft Annual, and of John Rignall's delightfully coloured bright-eyed lambeosaurines. It's a lovely day to be sporting a solid orange head crest, having tangerine dreams and admiring the smoking scenery.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Mesozoic Miscellany 77

In the News

Interested in the evolution of ankylosaur tail clubs? Of course you are, and you're in luck. Victoria Arbour's new research is all about it.

Matt Bonnan announces the publication of Pulanesaura, a new sauropod from South Africa dating from the early Jurassic - an important time in the evolutionary history of the clade.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

At SV-POW, Matt Wedel deigned to write about a "stinkin' ornithischian."

The Dinosaur Toy Blog reviewed the LEGO Velociraptor.

Trish Arnold trained her wit on Walking With Dinosaurs 3D during a recent live tweet session.

At Laelaps, Brian Switek interviewed paleontologist Robert Gay about his experiences teaching natural history to high school students.

Paleontology field work ain't all glamour and gorgeous badland vistas, Lisa Buckley reports.

At Prehistoric Beast of the Week, journey into the bowels of the AMNH with Chris DiPiazza.

Mark Witton recently announced his upcoming paleoart book, and has launched his own Patreon page.

An exceptional fossil mount at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science was profiled recently by Ben Miller.

Paleoart Pick

The Saurian team released some animations of their new T. rex design, and it's a stunner.

The Saurian T. rex, ©2015 Urvogel Games, LLC.

Read more about the redesign of their tyrant at the Saurian game blog.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Dinosaurs! The 1987 Childcraft Annual - Part 3

Having already looked at saurischian dinosaurs in my first two posts on the 1987 Childcraft annual, it's high time some ornithischians were allowed to show their controversially cheeked faces. There's some more Greg Paul art in this category, but why don't we start with something that proved popular on Facebook?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Dinosaurs! The 1987 Childcraft Annual - Part 2

May the 1980s bonanza continue (please do check out part 1 for background, amusing spinosaurs etc.) Having exclusively featured theropods in the first post, let's turn now to their fellow saurischian dinosaurs - you know, the often staggeringly huge ones with the long necks, long tails, and tendency to appear far more loveable than a reptilian behemoth the size of a house probably should. But we haven't just got sauropods - we've got Gregory S Paul™ sauropods!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Dinosaurs! The 1987 Childcraft Annual - Part 1

Back in July, JT Covenant used a comment on my review of Ladybird's The Lost World to point me to a book that they thought I'd enjoy. I can happily say that they were right on the money. In fact, finally receiving this hefty old thing through the post (it came from the US) sent me quite giddy with glee. Not only is it illustrated by a panoply of artists, all with wildly varying styles, all of whom are credited (including Greg Paul!), but it's virtually a comprehensive encyclopedia of '80s palaeoart memes. Some are tiresomely familiar, but there are also some very weird ideas in here that have long since been rendered obsolete. To cap it all, it's from the very year I was born. It's Dinosaurs! The 1987 Childcraft Annual.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Triassic Weirdo and a Reading Raptor

As part of the Mammoth is Mopey crowdfunding campaign, I offered custom illustration commissions as some of the higher perks, and now I've fulfilled them. Two of the backers, Emily Willoughby and Michael Fleischmann, asked for prehistoric subjects, so I figured I'd toss them up here. To check out all four pieces, head to my recent post at the Mammoth is Mopey blog.

First, Emily wanted me to create a new character in the style of Mammoth is Mopey. She wanted a Deinonychus that represented her love of learning. Remembering that I'd once shared a photo of an Eastern Towhee and remarked that it reminded me of one of her beautiful dromaeosaurs, she suggested I try that songbird's coloration.

Deinonychus is Diligent, © 2015 David Orr; commissioned by Emily Willoughby.

Michael asked that I stretch out a bit from the Mammoth is Mopey style and only prompted me with the taxon he wanted: the Triassic oddball Longisquama. I loved digging into the paleoecology of the Madygen Formation. Learning that Longisquama lived alongside the enormous titanopteran insect Gigatitan, I had no choice but to include it in some way. Once I sorted that out, having a considerably smaller cupedoid beetle attracting the foreground Longisquama's attention seemed like a good choice.

Longisquama Sunset, © 2015 David Orr; commissioned by Michael Fleischmann.

I'll have another piece of Mesozoic art to share soon, along with some musings about paleoart I've been kicking around in my noggin lately.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Welcome... To Waterloo Station

The dust of Jurassic World may have settled too long to warrant sharing these pictures now, but I was in the throes of moving house, followed by a lengthy period without home internet, and lacked the opportunity previously. Still, I felt I couldn’t have these pictures on my hands without posting them on the blog. 

During the first week of Jurassic World’s release, London’s Waterloo Station took part in what can only be described as a promotional extravaganza with a display featuring models of the film’s ‘raptors’. Visitors were encouraged to take their own JW selfie with the beasties and to share them on Twitter. Yes, folks, it had its own hashtag. I had hoped to drag Marc along for this privilege. Sadly, the display only lasted a week and there wasn’t enough time.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals

Given that the last book I reviewed was so very bland and predictable (complete with the obligatory post-Normanpedia Sibbickisms), I was very happy to come upon this wonderful, ageing collection of barely held-together cloth boards on eBay. This international edition of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals dates from 1972, but in its original form it would appear to go all the way back to 1959. What with its glorious collection of Zallingerian swamp beasts and Knightian lizard-headed tyrannosaurs (all painted by R F Peterson), it's an absolute treat for fans of truly vintage dinosauriana...even if some of the artwork isn't terribly accomplished.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mesozoic Miscellany 76

The Big News

Fossil hunter Wendy Sloboda was honored for her years of work with the description of Wendiceratops pinhornensis. While it's always fun to see a new ceratopsian with some new configuration of headgear published, this is especially interesting because it's the earliest known centrosaurine ceratopsid. Read more: Integrative Paleontologists, Laelaps, Royal Ontario Museum.

The publication of a new Cretaceous snake, Tetrapodophis, was met with a mix of delight, surprise, and facepalms. While snakes experimented with a variety of limb configurations during the cretaceous, Tetrapodophis was the first found that reveals four limbs. They're small, and probably more useful for grasping than locomotion, but they're there. Unfortunately, the provenance and legality of the fossil is questionable. I'm going to go ahead and just suggest reading Dr. Shaena Montanari's article for Forbes Science, which explains both the potential significance of the find as well as a good dissection of the ethical and legal concerns.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

At Pseudoplocephalus, Victoria Arbour shares pics from her visit to Dinosaurs Unearthed.

Not Mesozoic and I don't care! Gareth Monger's cute Hallucigenia.

Check out Rebecca Groom's life-size Velociraptor plushie!

Speaking of plushies of the prehistoric orientation, check out the Kickstarter campaign by Jungle Plush. The company says they strive "to make our plushies in a way so that any young dino enthusiast can easily identify and learn about their favorite dinosaur, all while having fun at the same time." And it looks like the campaign has funded! There are a few more days to chip in, however.

What can be said about the spinal cords of extinct animals? Liz Martin's got some ideas.

Fernanda Castano has a post specially crafted for all you lovers of paleontology's history: Owen, Dickens, and the Invention of Dinosaurs.

At The Integrative Paleontologists, Andy Farke interviews Mike Keesey about his terrific website, Phylopic.

Dave Hone is publishing a book about tyrannosaurs!

Speaking of the tyrants, Mark Witton cops to a bit of a bias towards them in his art of late...

At Method Quarterly, Laura Bliss writes a nice triptych of interviews, providing an introduction to paleoart for the uninitiated. Read what Doug Henderson, Mark Witton, and Emily Willoughby have to say.

Paleoart Pick

I love paleoart that tells a story. Certainly, restorations that Marc refers to as "spotter's guide" style (isolated against a white background) have their place, and I often love them. But a well-thought out paleoart story captures the atmosphere of a lost world, has the feeling of a dream made real. Emily Willoughby is a master of this, as shown in her recent take on Zhenyuanlong suni, a new dromaeosaur from China. Read more about the story she is telling over at her DeviantArt page.

Zhenyuanlong suni, © Emily Willoughby. Shared with the artist's permission.

Filthy Lucre Corner

Blame Mammoth is Mopey for the lag in round-ups. It's pretty well been a full-time job since March. Once the campaign was funded, production and fulfillment ate up most of my and Jennie's time. But this week, with the completion and release of the expanded ebook, things are easing up quite a bit. Now my main task is to complete the custom illustration perks, which are proving to be quite a bit of fun. I've been spending time with a studious dromaeosaur, a notorious Triassic weirdo, some charismatic canids. I'll be sure to share them here when they're done!