Monday, August 15, 2011

Vintage Dinosaur Art: The Warm-Blooded Dinosaurs

It's a rare entry in this series that lives at the bleeding edge of research. It's unheard of, frankly. Some books we feature seem to be tossed together affairs with art by illustrators who, for all of their talents, aren't given the time or budget to create faithful paleontographical reconstructions. Or they hearken back to the era when dinosaurs were seen as stupid, maladapted brutes. Today's title, The Warm-Blooded Dinosaurs, was published in 1979, just as the Dinosaur Revolution ushered in by Ostrom and Bakker was gaining a footing in the popular imagination. Lorence F. Bjorklund's illustrations of fleet-footed, furry dinosaurs are an anomaly in popular dinosaur books.

There are only a few images from the book online, but they offer a mighty tantalizing glimpse. Take this illustration from the title page in which more ornithomimosaurs are joined by what I presume to be hopping hypsilophodonts.
bjorklund 1
The book is a direct distillation of Bakker's ideas to young readers, well before the publication of The Dinosaur Heresies, brought the full force of his vision of endothermic, highly active dinosaurs to the public - as well as teaching the teenage me exciting words like "torpor." Here, an iguanodont illustrates the buzzkill that is a torpid state, slumped over on its side like my Cairn terrier, Gregory, after a long walk.
bjorklund 3
Trish Arnold's bestie, Syntarsus, makes an appearance as well. Inspired by Sarah Landry's restoration of the little theropod - which was likely a species of the Triassic Coelophysis, it's depicted here with the trademark coiffure.
bjorklund 2
Excellent stuff, and yet another book I'd love to get my mitts on. Once again, thanks to Terry Thielen for sharing these with the Vintage Dinosaur Art Flickr pool.


  1. I had this book as a kid, and I totally remember the fuzzy-looking dinosaurs but didn't realize it was meant to be actual fuzz and not just the artist's sketchy, cross-hatchy style. But re-examining these scans now (and actually *reading* the text, something that often fell by the wayside when books had cool pictures when I was young) it is clear: Yep, these are fully feathered dinosaurs. In 1979.
    We're struggling to change the perception of naked dinosaurs today, and this book had the guts to do it more then 30 years ago.

  2. Feathered ornithopods in 1979!?! What an amazing find!

  3. I got this book from a bunch of discarded old elementary school library books. I didn't realize how few I posted from this book. I've been trying to keep it light from each book (to cut down on scanning time), but i'll gladly scan/post some more of this one as well as any other book I have if anyone would like to see more. Just visit my flickr pool and leave a comment.

  4. That would be terrific, Terry. I also waver on the "how much to scan" issue, so no criticism intended. If you would like to share more and have the time, I'd love to see more.

    A related issue is that of copyright; my general feeling is that these images are shared at Flickr to bring light to otherwise forgotten artists and the posts we do here serve to illustrate the evolution of dinosaur art, so fair use applies.

  5. I've been making a lot of comments like this, but feathered dinosaurs in 1979!

  6. To avoid sounding wildly redundant by repeating what others have said, I'm just going to say: wow. They're beautiful drawings in their own right too. I especially like the hypsilophodonts and the Iguanodon.

    I've just visited the dinosaur gallery at the NHM again today, my first after their refurbishment. Oh, the supreme irony of their bald Deinonychus...

  7. @David: Great find. As you probably know "Syntarsus" is known as Megapnosaurus these days, as the name was preoccupied. Funny how it was always depicted with a similar crest on its head (another palaeoart meme there).

    @Niroot: I'm glad you mentioned the bad robots! Now I feel like my rant was less...churlish.

  8. It really is amazing that Bjorklund only illustrated dinosaurs this one time, but for all of my searching, it seems to be the case! I agree, these drawings are jaw-on-the-floor great.

  9. @Marc Check out the link to Trish's blog up there. She's got a great post about that crest.

  10. What an awesome find. There is an old Greg Paul-illustrated children's book from around the same time (maybe early '80s, but definitely waaay before PDW) that may have had feathered dinos and I'm still trying to figure out who wrote it and what it was called. My local library had a copy years ago but it's long gone.

  11. Julian May, the science fiction author?

  12. JW - From what I've read, yes. Children's books were one of the many kinds of books he wrote.


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