Monday, May 9, 2011

Vintage Dinosaur Art: B.G. Seielstad

Paleontologists with the Royal Tyrrell Museum recently conducted an excavation of a stunningly preserved ankylosaur from the Alberta oilsands, but it's not the first ankylosaur to receive major press before scientists have even had a chance to describe it. In the early thirties, Barnum Brown of the American Museum of Natural History discovered what is still considered to be one of the best skeletons of a nodosaurid ankylosaur known.

In a 1933 article in Popular Science, the excavation of the "armored horned toad" was covered in full detail. It was accompanied by an almost page-full illustration by B.G Seielstad.



Seielstad is an obscure magazine illustrator who did a lot of work for Popular Science and Life. Here, he seems to have drawn inspiration from the article copy, describing the nodosaur as "dragging its enormous body through rank vegetation of swamps and shallow seas." Other than the sprawling leg position, he got it pretty right, thanks to the good material he had to illustrate. Of course, there's the little matter of a Jurassic stegosaur in a Cretaceous environment...

Despite the magazine's touting of the dinosaur as one of the most sensational finds in recent memory, it would not actually be described by Brown. The legendary paleontologist did toss about the name "Peltosaurus" in conversation and during lectures, but it was up to Yale's John Ostrom to fully describe the specimen in the early '70s. Because "Peltosaurus" already belonged to an extinct lizard, Ostrom would dub it Sauropelta instead. It stars alongside Ostrom's most famous discovery, Deinonychus, in an AMNH mural of Cretaceous life.

3 comments:

  1. I think the inclusion of the Stegosaur was really an illustration convention rather than necessarily being ignorant.
    Often it's simply convenient to include animals the authors consider fall under the same topic heading eg. 'armoured dinosaurs' in the same illustration for space and simplicity.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I see what you're going for there. Almost as if Mr. Stego is peering into the future at the animals that would represent the armored dinos in the Cretaceous. That's an interesting take on it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I reckon it's quite common based on my foggy memory of kids dinosaur books.(rigorous sample I know!)
    It's the old montage of predators or little ones or Sauropods. etc.

    ReplyDelete

Trolls get baleted.