Friday, April 9, 2010

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Tom Dunnington

Tom Dunnington Dinosaur
Earlier this week, I referred to the old illustrator's trope of sticking dinosaurs in front of volcanos at every opportunity. So, here's one that does just that. I really, really like this one. It was drawn by Tom Dunnington for the Pacific Shores volume of a series called "Enchantment of America," published by Childrens Press of Chicago. Before spending some time on the native peoples of the Pacific coast, the book runs through a bit of prehistory, thankfully making a brief stop in the Mesozoic.

That big old theropod (who am I kidding, it's a T. rex), like the Allosaurus from a few weeks ago, has a definite canine character to him. I love that he seems genuinely entertained by the volcanos erupting on the horizon, sitting up like a dog waiting for a treat.

Dunnington is, unfortunately, not well-represented on the net. Google searches turn up plenty of books crediting him, and this site indicates that he may still be active. It's a bummer when I can't find much on these illustrators; something in me wants to know as much as possible. In an effort to inspire others to help save the work of these generally obscure men and women, I started a Flickr group dedicated solely to old dinosaur illustrations. Fittingly enough, it's called Vintage Dinosaur Art. If you've got some old science books with dinosaur art in them, this is a great opportunity to scan it and share the artists' work with the world. There are plenty of groups dedicated to old illustrators, and plenty dedicated to dinosaur images in general. This combines the two.


  1. He's so cute, like a big carnivorous pet! Why do volcanoes always get used in dinosaur art anyways?

  2. I think it's a lasting impression of the old, pre-human world being a violent, half-formed, hellish place. This also ties in to the old image of dinosaurs as a "failed" race of reptiles who were deservedly defeated by the quick-witted, superior mammals. Their world: fuming, hot, inhospitable. Ours: green, luxuriant, comfortable.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I've got a good one to add, "Diorama of Life in the Late Cretaceous" which I will scan and post soon.

  5. Super! Thanks, Roy.

    BTW, the deleted comment is a duplicate. Blogger was being a bit janky. I didn't post something incredibly inflammatory and have second thoughts.

    Or did I?

  6. Lol- you're always offending me with your un-deleted comments. Glad to see you're catching yourself...

    I always thought that the volcanoes were supposed to represent the very end of the Cretaceous per the theory that world wide volcanism was the cause of the extinction event at the end of the Mesozoic. Of course, that makes less sense now, especially after that stupid conference recently where paleontologists got together and gave themselves a giant pat on the back for "figuring out" that it was "definitely" an asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.

  7. Yeah, I think that's definitely a valid reason. The two probably tie together. And it is true that it's not totally inaccurate to depict volcanism, because there obviously was some. It's just funny that it's stuck into so many illustrations, like it's part of a checklist.


    There it is!

    And why is it always so crowded in some of these murals? T-Rex is about to step on Ankylosaurus..


Trolls get baleted.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.