Friday, January 15, 2010

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Norman Nodel

Here's another obscure gem I picked up secondhand: I Can Read About Prehistoric Animals by David Eastman. The illustrator was named Norman Nodel. This site lists his real name as Nochem Yeshaya, and he passed away ten years ago. He spent much of his career doing the illustrated versions of classic books before moving on to his passion, working on titles meant for Jewish youths. Other than this book, he also did dinosaur illustrations for a book called The Giant Dinosaurs. He may have also contributed to a bizarre coloring book. As you can tell from Mr. Frowny Rex on the front cover, Nodel took a cartoony approach to his mesozoic subjects and set anatomical correctness aside.

I Can Read About Prehistoric Animals

Swimming Duckbills
"Bob. For the last time, get out of the carpool lane."

I apologize for that. I just exposed myself as a funny pages junkie.

T. rex snares a Duckbill
Here, some poor, indistinct duckbill is overtaken by a three-fingered T. Rex who gets the bright idea to trip up his prey by stepping on its ponderous, floppy tail. Mr. Duckbill collapses; seemingly he's been dreading this moment for a long time. This is a common motif in old dinosaur illustrations. Maybe I'll collect some in a future post. It is, you might guess, a very improbable situation, at least for the fact that duckbills' tails were pretty stiff, buttressed by criss-crossing bony tendons.


  1. Great blog! However, I feel it necessary to correct an error - hadrosaur tails were not really stiff. This is an old Dinosaur Renaissance myth dispelled by recently Chris Organ, who did a finite element model of ornithopod tails and found them to be quite flexible. The tail of a hadrosaur was capable not only of bending, but of strong alligator-like mediolateral undulations. Those ossified tendons, it turns out, only inhibited significant dorsoventral movement, not movement in all directions.


    Organ, C. 2006. Biomechanics of Ossified Tendons in Ornithopod Dinosaurs. Paleobiology, 32(4):652-665.

  2. Thanks a ton for the information, Michael. I really appreciate the correction! I think this warrants a whole new post.

  3. YES! We found a golden age robot story by Norman Nodel. Researching him led us here. And we are HUGE dinosaur fans! This made our day. We'll be back to rock more dinos with you.


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