Monday, September 10, 2012
Vintage Dinosaur Art: Rourke's Deinonychus
There's that smell in the air... it's time to dip back into the paleoartistic publications of Rourke publishing. It's hard to believe that it's been three months since the last visit to the series: those were the halcyon days before Marc blew our minds with an explosion of Sibbick-itude heretofore unseen on the web, then followed it up with an equally epic exploration of Zdeněk Burian.
Now, we'll come back down to Earth and the muddlings of work-a-day illustrators with a 1984 publication devoted to the poster-child of the Dinosaur Renaissance, Deinonychus, the theropod who so ably served as the world's favorite dromaeosaur until that greedy little usurper wrought by Crichton and Spielberg pounced onto the scene. These scans were kindly provided for our pleasure by Terry Thielen. Even without the publication date provided, we'd have a rough idea of where we are; the first spread is a clear depiction of pronated, ready-to-dribble-a-basketball theropod hands, of the sort that makes the modern, discerning dinosaur fan cringe.
Illustrator Roger Payne is middle-of-the-road among the Rourke stable; nothing too daring here, with bright colors and de rigeur plain green color schemes for his dinosaurs. Feathers are absent, naturally. But Deinonychus is an active predator, chasing after his prey, as with this hapless Psittacosaurus, and in this he fits squarely within the renaissance ideal of a warm-blooded, speedy killer. The animals were roughly contemporaneous, though they hail from North America and Asia, respectively.
Attention to paleoecology is a hallmark of these titles, as anachronisms tend to be fairly minor. Here, the titular theropod does his business in an environment that suitably passes for a hot, tropical floodplain. There are some distant mesas as well, because, well, what in the heck else are you going to stick on the horizon? (Note: check comments for some discrepancies noted my Mike Keesey, which I did not bother with or pay attention to in my haste to finish up this post).
Rourke titles tend to end one of two ways: in death or slumber. Fearsome Deinonychus gets the latter. It's actually sort of notable: besides a fellow who goes by the initials GSP, there were not many images of theropods at rest in the paleoart canon at this point. Here, those pronated hands rest atop one another in the manner of a sleeping dog; poor thing lacks a proper coat of feathery integument and hands arms that fold up in the fashion of the animal's extant relatives, the better to tuck a cold nose into.
As always, browse the Flickr Vintage Dinosaur Art group for much more saurian goodness.
Previous Rourke books featured here:
Tyrannosaurus (George Sheehan)
Ankylosaurus (Bernard Long)
Brontosaurus (Colin Newman)
Iguanodon (Bernard Long)
Triceratops (John Francis)
Pteranodon (Doreen Edwards)
Allosaurus (Doreen Edwards)