Friday, October 8, 2010

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Aliki Brandenberg

My Visit to the Dinosaurs

This week's title is My Visit to the Dinosaurs, written and illustrated by Aliki Brandenburg and published in 1969. Aliki is a long-time veteran of children's literature, born in 1929 to Greek parents. A good portion of her titles are science-themed, including one entitled simply Evolution that I'd love to find.

I'm glad that I got an original edition of this title, which was republished as a revised version in 1985, with replacement illustrations. Though they're nice, I love the limited color palette of this older version.


Aliki's choices for her illustrations will be familiar to anyone who likes mid-century dinosaur titles. Above, it's the now-considered-dubious Trachodon, who deserves the appelation "old chestnut" as much as any dinosaur, being the default duckbill used in popular titles for many years.

She also contributed to the long tradition of Knight mimics, with her own take on the "Ornitholestes lunging for Archaeopteryx" trope that I enjoy so much.


There's also the very ornithomimosaurish Oviraptor above, and guess what it's doing? Walking off with some dude's eggs. I'm not quite sure where Aliki came up with this radical, unique depiction of this behavior.* A wild flight of fancy, to be sure.

Amphicoelias brontodiplodocus

If you look at the title of this image at Flickr, you'll see that I took it upon myself to redesignate this Apatosaurus Amphicoelas brontodiplodocus.

Oddly enough, my favorites here don't even have dinosaurs as their focus. I get a mighty kick out of this shifty-eyed museum employee in the next image. Every museum needs at least one tricky fellow with a Rollie Fingers mustache lurking around. He's been replaced with a clean-shaven alternate in the revised version.

The Shifty Docent

This one, embellishing the author biography page, presumably depicts the author and her family, an affable bunch, as they stroll around the museum. Just a great piece of cartooning. I wonder if Aliki did all of her drawing as she walked around like this.

Aliki Brandenberg

Aliki returned to dinosaurs in the late eighties with the titles Dinosaur Bones, Dinosaurs are Different, and Digging Up Dinosaurs. That last title has an extensive preview available at this link. It incorporates post-renaissance ideas, except, strangely enough, for theropods. Tyrannosaurus stands tall and drags its tail.

More images from this book at the Vintage Dinosaur Art Flickr pool.

* Five demerits to the first commenter to explain the now-defunct egg-stealing reputation of Oviraptors to me. I'm serious. Five of them.


  1. To be fair, Oviraptorids might've still ate eggs, just not THEIR OWN eggs. I still think there's some merit to the idea that the two "teeth" functioned similarly to the "egg-slicing teeth" of egg-eating snakes.

    I had all the Aliki books when I was little. Loved the illustrations, crude as some of them were.

  2. Dude, I'm going to have to give you 2 demerits for that. Not the full five. I wish I didn't have to, but I have to set an example.

  3. The funny thing about Oviraptor is that it was neither ... oh, almost missed the footnote! That was close, I'm already on Double Secret Probation.


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