Most readers of this blog will already be familiar with The Great Dinosaur Discoveries, Darren Naish's excellent book about, well, people discovering dinosaurs through the decades. Dinosaurs Discovered by John Gilbert has a very similar theme - double-page spreads profile historical palaeonotological findings - but is 30 years older, dating as it does from 1979. In addition, while Naish's book features gorgeous artwork from a number of the best palaeoartists around today (Luis Rey, Julius T Csotonyi, and Todd Marshall to name three), Gilbert's is illustrated solely by Guy Michel.
Apparently, Michel really had a thing for tongues. I'm not sure you can say that about Luis Rey.
The artwork is of a decent enough standard from a purely aesthetic, rather than scientific point of view; the animals are well-detailed, while landscapes appear lush and believable (even for all the oddly anachronistic grass).
However, there are a few very strange ideas that just keep on popping up (or rather, out). By far the most predominant among these is the tongue-lolling, Gene Simmons Iguanodon. It's first seen in a sort of 'parade' of dinosaurs from different periods:
(A few other things to note here: the extremely squat, no neck Ankylosaurus; the very stooped brachiosaur with even-length limbs; and the fact that the Stegosaurus with upright plates is significant for reasons I'll come to later. Also, I feel obliged to point out that the labels of Coelophysis and Cetiosaurus were clearly swapped by accident, but I've cropped out the former.)
A later page shows a whole herd of razzing Iguanodon stumbling blithely into a ravine in Belgium:
And here's another one...
And another one. (Note also the Stegosaurus with the seldom-seen 'flat plates' configuration, and the highly sauropod-like Plateosaurus, both of which jar with other illustrations of the same animal in the same book by the same artist.)
Quite why Michel thought that Iguanodon would be sticking its tongue out everywhere, I don't know. Obviously, the last image shows it using its tongue, giraffe-like, to manipulate foliage (an idea that Louis Dollo had), but in the other images it's just sort of...hanging there, like the animal's lost control of it. Or maybe it's catching flies, I dunno. Iguanodon isn't the only animal in on the drooling, tongue-dangling action, either.
Plateosaurus? What the hell? I've got a feeling that giraffe-like Iguanodon were a bit of a palaeoart meme back in the day, but this is surely the only time the idea's been applied to sauropodomorphs. (And if you know otherwise, I want to know too. Comment please!)
Protruding tongues aside, most of the art in this book conforms to what you'd expect from the 1970s, with a few particularly quirky highlights. Once again, Tyrannosaurus suffers a really rather undignified interpretation by the artist - not only frog-eyed, but in a really strange pose. It looks like the Struthiomimus has just let one rip and run off, and the Tyrannosaurus is throwing up its oversized arms in disgust. Something's really up with that Parasaurolophus skull, too...
Ah, good old Bronto. Obviously, the animal looks really retrograde and horrendous (shall we say 'phylotarded' again? Yeah, let's) and comes complete with a blunt wrong-o-skull, but there's still something I quite like about this scene. It's probably just because there isn't enough palaeoart set in a rainstorm. Reminds me of holidays in Norfolk. As an added bonus, in spite of apparently being of 1970s origin, both sauropod and accompanying pterosaurs look like they've been sent through a portal from the nineteenth century.
And finally...Michel clearly found arranging the animals in this scene a bit of a headache (geddit?), so he gave up. The ankylosaur has a very fetching pair of little horns in addition to not being at all bothered by the situation. Wonderful.