While this book is really all about the photography (of course), there are a small number of illustrations in the opening chapter which, to be honest, aren't really much to write home about. However, at least one is amusing in that it appears to be a lesson in the science of reconstructing extinct animals, as intended for pre-Dino Renaissance palaeoartists.
- Start with a thorough, modern skeletal reconstruction.
- Carefully apply musculature, based on knowledge of the skeleton and comparisons with living animals.
- Ignore all that shit and just draw something that basically resembles what you think the animal in question should look like. Dinosaurs were pathetic evolutionary dead-ends, so be sure to give them spindly limbs incapable of carrying their comically ponderous bulk.
Back to the photography...we're safe there. In spite of the book's title, a lot of the best photographs actually feature Palaeozoic animals, going back as far as the Carboniferous (yes, the title of this blog series is revealed to be a swizz once again). This study of the minor celebrity and Permian synapsid Dimetrodon is very lovely; a moody depiction of the ever-popular creature rising at dawn, complete with a layer of fog to add that desired element of primordial mystery. The composition and lighting are excellent, and really draw attention to the animal's most famous feature.
"[Lycaenops] has nothing to fear from the great plant-eater which it could easily kill if it were hungry."Yeah, whatever, Dougal.
"It is thought that these specialised scales [on its back] represent an early stage in the evolution of feathers, and so this line of animals could possibly have developed into birds."Genius. Of course, you do have to ignore all the evidence supporting a dinosaurian origin for the birds, including skeletal, integumentary and even behavioural links in sufficient stacks of specimens to fill the warehouse from Raiders of the Lost Ark. But that's easily done with a bit of harumphing and moving of goalposts, so that's OK.