Thursday, January 31, 2013

C.M. Kosemen talks Bullet Point Paleontology

Artist and researcher C.M. Kosemen has begun a series of video blogs, and in his first installment, he rants about a certain habit of publishers when printing material about prehistoric animals: using "item mentality" or bullet points to describe them. He argues that it takes them out of ecological context and reduces them to mechanical objects.

A review of my library is in order to really respond to this, but I generally agree, and wouldn't you know it, I see it as a design problem. I think about my treasured DK Visual Dictionary of Dinosaurs, and one reason it was a favorite was that the spreads put all of the animals and their anatomical features in context. A reason I love the old Rourke books is that it does the same, though through narrative rather than informational graphics. I'm not quite sure how prevalent this "item mentality" is, but it may simply be that since I'm pretty stingy and choose where to spend my money carefully, I'm not paying attention to the lower-quality projects where it may be used as a quick way to fill in content.

And there's more! Kosemen recently uploaded a short video from 2008 called Tetrapod Zoology: the Movie, in which his All Yesterdays comrade Darren Naish shares his collection of animal toys and talks about how even the silly, inaccurate toys in his plastic menagerie can be useful for education.

Delightful stuff. Keep an eye on his Youtube channel for more.


  1. Great summary and great videos by C.M. Kosemen.

  2. That movie is so embarrassing... the toy stuff should have stayed a dirty secret of some sort.

    1. Au contraire, Darren. I enjoyed it. It's great to see how Tet Zoo came about. And I love seeing that fraction of your collection. Had I the space, I would make a point of displaying mine. ;) For me, they do serve a practical purpose besides my own enjoyment of them too, as part of the reference material for my illustrations.

  3. The more Kosemen videos I watch, the more I like him! In this case, I'm glad I'm not the only 1 who dislikes the use of "item mentality" in dino books. That's why, w/the exception of certain encyclopedias & field guides, I generally avoid "bullet point" dino books. Even better, now there's a name for it!

  4. Thanks for your comments everyone!
    There is now a follow-up to this video at



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