Unsurprisingly, this (at the time) startling image appeared in the penultimate issue of the magazine (103) in 1995. Sculpted by Ulrich Zeidler and Susanne Henssen, this model was inspired by a Greg Paul illustration that outrageously depicted Velociraptor with feathers, instead of the super-cool Jurassic Park version that was obviously way cooler and better and badass and this just looks like a chicken and and *throws toys out of pram*.
Of course, this Velociraptor looks decidedly under-feathered these days, lacking the 'wings' that it should possess. Back in 1995, however, this model blew my mind. I wasn't persuaded by the idea of feathered dromaeosaurs back then (being a Jurassic Park-loving child and all), but I thought its highly realistic appearance was very cool. And I still do. It's a remarkable and prescient achievement for the time.
At the end of the article, the anonymous author commented
"If only we could go back in time! Then we could see if Velociraptor were a feathery beast like this model, or the scaly brute of Jurassic Park."Fortunately there was no need for time travel in the end (or indeed cloning based on DNA fragments). And that's why palaeontology is awesome.
Such was the nature of Dinosaurs! magazine that, in the same issue as the wonderful Zeidler/Henssen model appeared, we were also treated to the following abomination.
Shudder. This giant-headed freak was lucky to avoid the Terrible '90s Dromaeosaur Face-Off...
Returning to art that was ahead of its time, Dinosaurs! had to be one of the first publications anywhere to feature restorations of the strange crested theropod Cryolophosaurus. Formally described in 1994, Dinosaurs! first featured an illustration of it that very same year.
It might only be a head, but you can't fault their rapid response to a new discovery - surely beyond the call of duty for a kids' magazine. Equally, while the crest may be a little off, the shape of the head is close to more modern restorations as opposed to the 'allosaur' look that prevailed for a while. The illustration used when the animal was profiled (in issue 101 (1995)) does depict a more allosaur-like head, but also - remarkably - correctly-orientated forelimbs, rather than the 'bunny hands' look that was still prevalent at the time. While this magazine's art might have been of a wildly varying standard, the creator of this piece - James Robins - certainly knew what he was doing. Only the scale diagram brings the strangeness on this page.
Regular readers will remember my featuring a book entitled If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today last year, which was a glorious cavalcade of Photoshop failures featuring ugly, ugly dinosaurs (and plesiosaurs, and pterosaurs). In its later issues, Dinosaurs! magazine had a pop at very similar 'what if' themes, but - in an age before photo manipulation became easy and cheap - actually hired illustrators to produce images based on their unlikely scenarios, and therefore did a much better job. In 1994.
Here, for example, is an illustration from an article looking at how nonavian dinosaurs might be domesticated and put to work if they lived with us today, in which a policeman (probably from the Met) is struggling to prevent a slavering Deinonychus from brutally murdering a 1980s-style genero-crim. Something worth noting: at the end of this article, the author admits that it's actually incredibly unlikely that a nonavian dinosaur would have sufficient brainpower to be trained like this, thereby essentially admiting that the whole thing's an excuse to print awesome illustrations of policemen restraining their pet raptors.
Speaking of dinosaurs as pets, Dinosaurs! tried that one too. Here we see a girl playing with her 'cuddly' Compsognathus, while one of them raids the goldfish bowl.
In its 92nd issue, Dinosaurs! posed an important question - could (nonavian) dinosaurs survive today? This resulted in the only illustration I've ever seen of a giant tyrannosaur facing off against a rhinoceros. I only wish they'd drawn it cowardly running away as described in the text.
Previously, I mentioned that on one occasion 'Dr David Norman of Cambridge University' (for it was he) answered a rather amusing question in his 'Ask the Expert' column - namely, who the victor would be in a fight between Tyrannosaurus and Smilodon. Happily, I've found the issue in which it appeared.
I also found the issue in which he said this:
...Well, neither did a lot of people in 1994.
And finally (until next time), here's a Tylosaurus with a good ol' sea monster fin lunging at some pterosaurs. Enjoy.