Friday, January 6, 2012

Mesozoic Miscellany 49

This week, we mourn the death of Dan Varner, a regular fixture of the dinosaur mailing list and a fine paleoartist whose work for Mike Everhart's Oceans of Kansas is some of the best work on Mesozoic sea life I've ever seen. Read Tributes from Nobu Tamura, Matt Van Rooijen, Jaime Headden, David Maas, ART Evolved. ART Evolved has also announced that in May, their gallery will be a tribute to Dan. Everhart's Oceans of Kansas website has hosted a Varner gallery for while, which has been updated to include a touching tribute by his friend Bruce Schumacher. Condolences to all of his friends and family.

One thing I love about this brave new on-line world, as should be clear to long-time LITC readers, is the proliferation of all stripes of paleontology-inspired artwork. French artist Alain Bénéteau (dustdevil at DeviantArt) is one of many artists who are generously sharing a great diversity of work. He produces restorations of ancient ecosystems, ink drawings, and comics, all worthy of your attention.

This year, Indiana University Press, as part of their continuing Life of the Past Series, will release Sébastien Steyer's Earth Before the Dinosaurs, illustrated by Alain.

See more of Alain's work at his site, Paleospot, and follow him under that same name on Twitter.Here's the latest in his "Archie Tales" series, which applies a bit of Chuck Jones logic to paleontology, funny little just-so stories that give alternate explanations for strange fossils like Mononykus. Click to make it big enough to read.

Gary of Project Drypto has begun a new blog, Jersey Boy Hunts Dinosaurs. Today, he writes about the odd 1998 Jurassic Park PC game Trespasser. Ah, the joys of trying to stack boxes with Minnie Driver's stiff mannequin arms...

You may recall that Dave Hone and Darren Naish recently teamed up on a paper which looked at the possibility of mutual sexual selection in pterosaurs and dinosaurs. This week, both have addressed the topic on their respective blogs with Hone writing about theropod sociality at Archosaur Musings and Naish writing about the research in general at Tetrapod Zoology.

Obviously confusing me with someone more esteemed than myself, Heinrich Mallison kindly linked to LITC in a recent post at Dinosaurpalaeo, in which he shares some architectural archosaurs decorating, oddly enough, the Berlin Aquarium. He reckons that their use hearkens back to a time when the affinities of dinosaurs were less understood than they are today. Regardless, they're pretty amazing works of art.

Speaking of amazing works of art, you must see Jenn Hall's Auroraceratops, illustrated for Dr. Peter Dodson.

Andy Farke reviewed the new fossil species described in PLoS One in 2011, and shares a wishlist for 2012.

You may recall a recentish bit of research which analyzed the scleral rings of a number of dinosaurs to infer which times of the day they may have been most active. At Green Tea and Velociraptors, Jon Tennant digs into the ongoing debate about the work.

At the blog Raptormaniacs, Albertonykus has posted the results of a poll regarding the favorite new maniraptor of 2010, which went to, little surprise, Balaur. Head over and vote for the best of 2011.

If you're as big of a geek about historical paleontology photos, be sure to stop by the Prep Lounge to see pictures from the '30s when the Works Progress Administration put people to work prepping fossils in Texas.

The recent description of Spinops, based on fossils that had been collecting dust at the British Natural History Museum for years, inspired a satirical Gawker article. Mark Wildman muses on the sometimes long gap between a fossil's excavation and preparation at Saurian. Hylaeosaurus is closing in on almost two centuries, he notes.

The Dinosaur Toy Blog previews new toys the Bullyland company has in store for 2012, including a hilarious, pop-eyed Spinosaurus.

Finally, Brian Switek reviews a book about paleoart icon Charles R. Knight at Dinosaur Tracking. Charles R. Knight: The Artist Who Saw Through Time is both a coffee-table book of Knight art and a biography. It includes humanizing insight into the man, causing me to wonder how well he'd get by in today's web culture. "Knight refused to have collaborators and rejected almost all criticism. He wanted to hear only scientific corrections from Osborn, and he frequently argued with Osborn about critiques others made of his paintings."

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