In the fifties, Anna Pistorius published a series of books for young readers titled some variation of "What _____ Is It?" Dogs, horses, butterflies and wildflowers all drew her attention, but she also covered dinosaurs, and 1958's What Dinosaur Is It? is the subject of today's Vintage Dinosaur Art post.
There is little information about Pistorius available online, and it seems that the "What Is It" series was her biggest accomplishment. As the dinosaur title is the only one to cover prehistoric topics, it begins with a chronological telling of life's evolution, dashing to the Triassic so Pistorius can talk about the book's true stars. From there, the book is structured around questions like "What dinosaur is the longest?" or "What is the smallest dinosaur?" It seems that she was eager to cram as many dinosaurs in the book as possible, as some dinosaurs unrelated to the question at hand are placed on pages, as in this Camptosaurus appearing alongside "smallest dinosaurs" Podokesaurus (now considered to possibly be Coelophysis) and Compsognathus.
The "longest dinosaur" deserves a look as well, mainly because of the hilarious way Diplodocus is sticking its tongue out.
Ornitholestes shares space with Brontosaurus, and I'm glad to have found another version of Knight's "bird chaser" meme.
I appreciate the cartoony, light-hearted nature of these illustrations, which to me is always preferable to boring tracings of Knight, Burian, or Zallinger paintings. I especially like Pistorius's Stegosaurus, who merrily eats his greens as a plucky Rhamphorynchus does its best interpretation of "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka.
Roy Chapman Andrews' expedition to Mongolia gets a bit of love, too, though Oviraptor isn't called by name.
The lone anykylosaur in the book is the now-obscure Paleoscincus, the remains of which are now attributed to various dinosaurs. Here, Pistorius makes it into a mash-up of nodosaurid and ankylosaurid features.
The duckbills also receive little attention, with old standby Trachodon sharing a page with Parasaurolophus, which Pistorius imbues with snorkeling abilities as was common at the time.
What could have spooked this poor Struthiomimus so badly?
T. rex getting his tender underbelly poked by Triceratops, of course. Though it may be squeamishness instead of fear motivating Struthiomimus. Looks like the ground is about to be covered in tyrannosaur guts.
T. rex has the last laugh, though. There wasn't much time left on the dinosaur's clock, after all, and Pistorius leaves us with an image of a dead Triceratops being surveyed by a group of puny mammals.
For more, check out Doubtboy's page dedicated to this title and other scans in the Vintage Dinosaur Art Flickr pool.