Monday, July 9, 2012

Vintage Dinosaur Art: I can't believe it's yet more The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs (Part 4)

I'm so very sorry. Unless you're Mark Wildman, in which case, enjoy! (See also parts one, two and three.)

Here we have Lesothosaurus, a primitive ornithischian named after the tiny kingdom of Lesotho in southern Africa (actually, it's completely surrounded by South Africa) - it's no longer considered an ornithopod as described here. Little Lesothosaurus had the long legs of a fast runner, and its pose here is one of the most dynamic of all the dinosaurs in this book. Why its tail is (barely) dragging along the ground is a bit of a mystery but then, hey, it was the 1980s. Anyway, the patterns are quite lovely. And look, a smoking volcano! As Darren Naish pointed out previously, there are an awful lot of palaeoart memes here.

Hypsilophodon is depicted as being equally fleet-of-foot, but without the dragging tail this time. The twig falling from its mouth as it sprints away is a particularly nice touch, and at once adds character and realism to what could otherwise have been a rather dry 'HERE ARE SOME RELATED DINOSAURS' illustration. Note the peculiarly sauropod-like silhouette at the bottom, intended to represent Tenontosaurus...

 ...Which is here described as a 'hypsilophodont' on steroids. The animal's lo-o-ong tail is dragged and seems to snake off into the horizon, which is similar to the sauropods in this book but quite unlike other ornithopods. It's always a treat to see this animal without any dromaeosaurs attached.

Ah, Iguanodon - it's David Norman's favourite, and so is quite rightly placed front and centre. The 'lizardy kangaroo' look was still very common in popular books at the time, so it must have been refreshing to see it here in a more forward-thinking pose with its tail held well clear of the ground (it does help to avoid breakage). Of course, one cannot possibly mention Iguanodon without also mentioning...

...Its stabby stabby thumbs of theropod doom! Upon seeing its natural foe carrying a board declaring 'FREE HUGS' outside the National Gallery, Iguanodon wanders casually up and appears to be willing to partake in an embarassing embrace with an overly-keen stranger - before righteously plunging its killer thumbs into the irritating hippy's flesh.Or, wasn't this idea always a bit silly? I mean, what were the odds that the theropod would engage Iguanodon in a spot of head-on rasslin'? Still, I love the way Sibbick's rendered their facial expressions.

Hadrosaurs are pretty well represented in this book, and one page is dominated by a magnificent - and frequently reproduced - Parasaurolophus. Its arms may appear incongruously puny here, but Sibbick still brings a marvellously organic and believable quality to this otherwise quite unbelievable creature (that crest...). You've got to feel sorry for poor old Corythosaurus, though, peeking out from behind its more showy cousin and hardly ever included when this illustration appeared elsewhere. At least Corythosaurus is safe in the knowledge that Parasaurolophus is really just compensating for something.

It's 1985, and two Parasaurolophus are shocked when an old palaeoart meme receives an unexpected twist. They thought it was safe to go back into the water...but they are proven wrong, as Grinning Idiot Tyrannosaur (GIT) dives right in afer them! Just fantastic stuff.

Ah, Tsintaosaurus - the dinosaur with crest like a 13-year-old's graffito, incarnated as one of the most hilarious 'serious' dinosaur toys ever made. Also, a Saurolophus sporting a glorious spotted pattern splashing around in a lagoon. It's just lovely. Oh dear...I've run out of things to say, and I have at least one more of these to go yet.

The GIT is back, this time causing a Corythosaurus to be greatly disgusted. Actually, this one's from the section on tyrannosaurs, but hey - I missed it before.

And example of how times have changed. The Edmontosaurus in the background is masquerading as an "Anatosaurus", but isn't fooling anyone. The Edmontosaurus (er...the one labelled as such, in the foreground) in particular was much copied, and I remember its colours as depicted here becoming almost a uniform for the genus back in the 1990s.

It's nearly over! It's nearly over!


  1. Stop apologising! You do yourself as much as those of us besides Mark Wildman (yes, there are those, in case they have escaped your notice) who enjoy this series a disservice. *Folds arms*

  2. I totally own a poster with all these illustrations and a lot more! ...I've had it since i was about four or five. Loooove this kinda old dino art.

  3. You say the Edmontosaurus (the actual labelled one) was copied, but I definitely remember the almost head-on goonfaced Anatosaurus all over the place, myself.

  4. Love the penultimate one, and how the tyrannosaur looks like he's just trying to gross the corythosaur out with his bad breath.

  5. That Tenontosaurus has always bothered me. Most of the ornithopods have held up particularly well (and that Saurolophus is particularly beautiful even though its crest is too short), but Tenontosaurus has always been a stinker.

  6. Flattery will get you everywhere!

  7. Oh, the posters, that's why these all seem familiar! I had them in my first apartment ... good times, good times.

  8. "Upon seeing its natural foe carrying a board declaring 'FREE HUGS' outside the National Gallery, Iguanodon wanders casually up and appears to be willing to partake in an embarassing embrace with an overly-keen stranger - before righteously plunging its killer thumbs into the irritating hippy's flesh."

    That's the best caption of Part 4 (although the Saltasaurus caption is probably the best caption of the Sibbick series).

    "The Edmontosaurus in the background is masquerading as an "Anatosaurus", but isn't fooling anyone."

    I always thought that so-called Anatosaurus looked very derpy.

    BTW, many thanks for doing me that favor. Any idea why Sibbick made the Tenontosaurus is so sauropody?

  9. "It's always a treat to see this animal without any dromaeosaurs attached."

    That explains why I didn't initially recognise it. But, what is going on with that tail? With a caudofemoralis that massive and the tail sitting on the ground, any lateral flexion would be a case of the tail wagging the dino.

    And thanks for that Tsintaosaurus link - I guess that confirms that male dinos are properly termed "cocks".

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  11. I think it's rather unfortunate that you didn't include the *Scutellosaurus* and *Heterodontosaurus* on the *Lesothosaurus* plate, I like both of them even if *S.* looks very lizard-like, to me.

    That *Tenontosaurus* always struck me as rather flamboyant or dandy-ish, for some reason. Perhaps that smug, yet distant look on its face makes it have something of a holier-than-thou-art vibe. It certainly appears to ignore the *Hypsilophodon* and *Dryosaurus* it shares its plate with.

    I have to agree the *Anatosaurus* looks somewhat silly. It has something of an empty smile and expression on its face that makes it look like it's a simpleton delighted by the sudden appearance of that *Edmontosaurus* in a haste. *Bactrosaurus* looked like it was scared of or offended by something too, whereas *Kritosaurus* oversaw the whole scene with something resembling mild amusement or contempt. I bet its personal name was Edmund Blackhadro.

  12. What's left? Thyreophorans, right? You should do the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Pterosaurs by Dr Wellnhofer, also outstandingly illustrated by Sibbick. While the David Norman Encyclopedia was the bible of my childhood and still love most of the art, I think its pterosaur counterpart is where Sibbicks skill really shines.

    1. I second this request, please.

    2. Thirded, please, but only after you've properly done justice to this one - say, another 17 posts.

    3. Perhaps you'd all like to chip in and buy it for me? ;)

    4. Well, you know I'm always happy to help...

    5. @Marc Vincent

      Do you have a account? If so, I'll trade you my copy for something on my Want list (which should be easy, given that it's mostly dino books).

  13. Tenonto and Plateo - funny convergence of overall shape!

  14. The illustration of Tsintaosaurus with a unicorn-like crest in the book has become outdated ---- Prieto-Marquez and Wagner (2013) just came out with a new paper in which they propose that the supposed unicorn--style crest of Tsintaosaurus is actually the rear part of a long, hollow crest that projects upward.

    Prieto-Márquez, A.; Wagner J.R. (2013). "The ‘Unicorn’ Dinosaur That Wasn’t: A New Reconstruction of the Crest of Tsintaosaurus and the Early Evolution of the Lambeosaurine Crest and Rostrum.". PLoS ONE 8 (11): e82268. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082268. Retrieved 23 November 2013.


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