Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Dinosaur Mysteries

Following the outlandish (but highly artistically accomplished) work in Dinosaurs and more Dinosaurs, we're back on more familiar ground this week, with a Dino Renaissance-flavoured title from 1980. Don't be fooled, however; the weirdness doesn't end here.

I should also take a moment to again thank Dave Hone, who let me borrow this book in addition to DamD. The impassioned talk given to me in the pub was surely worth it. [Also, stop press: David's gone and blogged about the artist before. Don't mind the repeats, please.]

So, let's not beat around the bush here - those Deinonychus have clearly picked on the wrong Iguanodon, seeing as it boasts a suspiciously carnivorous-looking maw stuck all the way up there by the title. No such chimeras appear elsewhere in the book, so why this Godzilla-like beast is featured on the cover is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps the artist, Susan Swan, had finished the top half of the illustration close to deadline, before receiving the dreaded phone call from the publisher. "Nah, forget T. rex, it's so 1970s. We want some of those scary swarming guys with the giant claws. And a dinosaur giving a thumbs-up."

The cover exemplifies the distinctive, rather unusual art style employed in the book, mostly consisting of simple, bright colours and flat washes, giving a minimal, almost naive look. A departure from this style comes in the inside cover pages, which feature the beautifully complex, shaded illustration shown above. It's reminiscent of some of William Stout's work, and is packed with easily-missed incidental details - not least the dragonflies, which are something of a motif in this book.

Far more typical is this illustration, in which a Tyrannosaurus menaces a weirdly gangly Parasaurolophus. Although rather older than T. rex, the trombone-headed one has nevertheless ended up on The King™'s menu (uh-huh) many times in art over the years - perhaps because it's more interesting to look at than boring old Edmontosaurus. Noteworthy in this painting are the lovely butterflies and white Pteranodon. White Pteranodon! Makes a change from brown, I guess.

Dinosaur Mysteries is thoroughly modern in outlook, with the text presenting dinosaurs as fleet-footed, successful animals, rather than glacially slow reptilian flesh heaps. Accordingly, the illustrations, for all their simplicity, showcase lean animals striding magnificently about with their tails held well clear of the terrain; note the horizontal T. rex in the image above, and recall that other artists were painting toddling tyrannofatties well into the 1980s. Of course, it didn't mean that Swan was shy of paying homage to the old greats - the Rexy and Triceratops up front clearly owe a lot to Charles 'Chazza' Knight.

Furthermore, there are some slightly silly memes that, like creationists on deviantArt and tiresome misogynists everywhere else, simply refuse to go away. Here we have Swan's entry into the glorious 'tyrannosaur being smacked in the face' canon; Swan manages one up on other artists by really selling the impact with a delicious (and, given the style, slightly incongruous) blood splatter.

But never mind that - I know you're all really looking at the flowers, for beneath the tough facade of every dinosaur geek is a keen botanist struggling to get out.Yes, those are some quite beautiful flowers. I'm glad you noticed.

Perhaps the most prominent examples of Dino Renaissance thinking to feature in the illustrations are the sauropods. Even if they were finally tramping about on the land, knocking over trees and making a mess of everything, the sauropods of the 1980s were often still rather slothful beasts, hauling their limp tails behind them. But not here! I really rather like the composition of this scene, with the foreground sauropod's curving shape serving to frame its fellows.

I had thought that the pink butterflies didn't really make any sense, but it turns out they did have lepidopterans back then, at least. So, hey, fabulous pink butterflies all around!

I know what you're thinking, but the truth is that, no, this isn't Psittacosaurus. It's Protoceratops. You know, the one with the enormous neck frill and cheek bones like one of Madonna's more famous undergarments. How Swan ended up painting this strange and rather shy no-necked creature is another mystery. I like to think that she only had access to old restorations of juveniles, and extrapolated from there.

The background reminds me of Charlie Chalk. I know, I'm old.

In addition to providing the most unlikely Protoceratops ever seen in palaeoart, Swan also gives us some fantastically '80s quadrupedal spinosaurs. These pin-headed lummoxes are a far cry from the modern day butchery-on-legs; truly, they just don't paint 'em like this any more (right?). I'm fond of the sun and surrounding sky in this one - an evocative atmosphere is created with just a very few, broad, carefully placed brushstrokes.

Remember Saltopus? Occasionally popping up in dinosaur books back in the day, you don't see very much of this rather obscure and poorly known animal in space year 2013. Here, Salty stands in for Syntarsus in demonstrating the crazy notion of feathered dinosaurs. That's not very scary!

There aren't very many illustrations of fuzzy Saltopus in existence, although I believe John McLoughlin (see below) also produced one. Indeed, a number of illustrations in this book appear to, er, be in debt to McLoughlin.

Other totally radical ideas on dinosaur soft tissues are featured in Dinosaur Mysteries, providing a fantastic (and quite rare) glimpse at some of the less likely ideas doing the rounds at the time. Here, we have a McLoughlin-inspired Torosaurus, its frill completely held down by flesh and rendered immobile; both Darren Naish and Trish (who is in no need of a surname) have blogged on McLoughlin's work before, so go and have a read if you haven't already.

Oh boy. Handily, and very, very unusually, this illustration is actually acknowledged as being "after G. Irons" - that'll be Gregory Irons, then. The original is featured over at TetZoo.

And finally..."It's a what? A WHAT? Look, this line's bad, I think I got it. I'm off for a beer." For the sake of fairness and in the interest of maintaining my outstanding reputation as an entirely scrupulous and reliable gent, I should point out that the text refers, correctly, to Pachycephalosaurus. It doesn't, alas, stop the caption being hilarious. If any readers have their own examples of amusingly botched dinosaur labels in old books (a long shot, I realise), do share them; I'd love to compile them. As for this one - why, it's the biggest mystery of all!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mesozoic Miscellany 63

In the News

Important new multituberculate: It's Rugosodon. Check out Nat Geo, The Dragon's Tales, and Paleoexhibit.

The Disney D23 convention revealed more about Pixar's The Good Dinosaur. More at Entertainment Weekly and i09.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

Our Marc reviewed the beautiful new Papo figure of an animal which is definitely a dinosaur, Dimetrodon, at the Dinosaur Toy Blog.

At Saurian, Mark Wildman wrote an excellent post about the "duelling dinosaurs" auction.

Redbubble featured a big bushel of dinosaur designs on their blog, including the work of some familiar illustrators.

Naish wrote about lovely azhdarchids at TetZoo. Of the Richard Orr illustration for Dixie Doug's Prehistoric Reptiles: "Richard Orr’s painting... always makes me think of one of Hieronymus Bosch’s scenes of Hell. Truly, it’s a horrific, terrifying scene..."

More zoo photos from Heinrich at Dinosaurpalaeo, focusing on Australian birds.

Scott Hartman sat down to chew the fat with Dave Hone for an Archosaur Musings interview.

Matt Martyniuk delved into the history of the term T. rex in pop culture at Dinogoss.

Reading Jurassic Park in 2013 is weird as hell, reports Trish Arnold.

Ian Garofalo wrote about Maleevosaurus at Mesozoic Mullings.

Paleoart Pick

James Gurney has released a video instuction series called How I Paint Dinosaurs. Check it out!

Outrageously Off-Topic Indulgence

Lego master Chris McVeigh has been making really cool constructions of drawings of popular characters. Here's Cookie Monster.

C is for Cookie

Check out more by clicking through to Flickr or at his Tumblr.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Dinosaurs and more Dinosaurs - Part 2

Onwards with the second part of our exploration of this frequently unsettling book. Do take a look at part 1 and David's 2010 post on the artist (George Solonevich) for more background.

Dinosaurs and more Dinosaurs might boast a significant number of relatively obscure beasts when compared with similar books, but that doesn't mean it shies away from the staples. Here, for example, we have an Iguanodon, easily identified by its approving hand gestures. There's something particularly peculiar about the head on this beast - it seems to have borrowed the head of a theropod from a more sober book (in DaMD, it would have dozens of moray-like teeth and/or a snaking tongue). The oddly humanoid proportions of the forelimbs are, of course, entirely in keeping with contemporary depictions of the animal. All in all, this one isn't too 'out there'; it's not like it's scaling a tree trunk, flicking out a lizardy tongue and brandishing a feathered tail, for example.

Yeah, you saw that one coming, I know.  In any case, Hypsilophodon is hardly known for bringing the crazy; the poor little creature is normally depicted scurrying around (or running hastily away from) much larger, more awesomebro species. Sure, there was the infamous 'tree kangaroo' Neave Parker depiction, but even then it was just standing around, looking suitably placid and harmless. Leave it to Solonevich to make even this most innocuous of animals into a creeping, crawling nightbeast with many-jointed limbs, a feathered (or is that beaver-like?) tail and Venom's tongue. By comparison, the gangly, vertical Ornithomimus on the right looks very conventional indeed, and there is something quite beautiful about its lovingly 'sculpted' legs.

Speaking of the conventional versus the very unconventional, the majority of the book's ankylosaurs follow the era's rather dull tendency to produce squat, short-tailed, no-necked armadillo-turtles. This more unusual depiction, then, is surely to be welcomed, even if it looks still more outlandish. The bony nodules are superbly painted - it's almost possible to get a tangible sense of how rough this animal's hide is - but I'm sure you're nevertheless wondering what on Earth this thing is supposed to be. Well, it's Pinacosaurus (here identified as Syrmosaurus). Hey, at least it's got a nice long tail, right?

Now here's a fun exercise in pointless hypothetical alterna-history - what if, just as Waterhouse Hawkins was sculpting the mighty Crystal Palace monstrosities, someone had tripped over a hadrosaur skull weathering out of a hillside somewhere? What would have happened had Hawkins hurriedly incorporated it into his dino designs? I like to think that the result would have looked something like the above. I'm particularly fond of the melty feet and hugely thick neck and tail. Magnificent stuff.

While the above Anatosaurus (aka Anatotitan, aka Edmontosaurus) is furnished with the full-mega-portly-body treatment, only the head of Pachycephalosaurus is shown. There's a good reason for this, of course; Pachycephalosaurus isn't known from very much else, so any full-body reconstruction would be subject to a great amount of speculation, and might end up looking a bit freaky some decades down the line.

I love its angry little face. Bless.

If you want marginocephalians in all their glory, you'll have to consult the ceratopsian pages. The above animal has a masterfully textured toad body. Somehow, it's ended up with the (not all that bad, for the time) head of a Styracosaurus. I'm sure it's a mask.

Of course, bring in the ceratopsians, and you also have to present their perpetual foes. Opposite Styracosaurus we have the frightful Gorgosaurus, a cross between a hen, a snake and a Cornish pasty. The character that Solonevich brings to this hunchbacked killer pastry is fantastic; note also the way in which the viewer's eye is expertly drawn to that hideous, bristling maw. Nevertheless, there's only one animal we could possibly end on...

Disappointingly, Solonevich's Tyrannosaurus isn't particularly unusual for the time; there are definite shades of both Neave Parker and, especially, Zdenek Burian. This Rexy is a dead ringer for Burian's monochrome Gorgosaurus, in particular, right down to the gleaming, greasy skin textures. What the prey is intended to represent isn't mentioned. Dave Hone noted that its head looks remarkably like those on contemporary reconstructions of small pterosaurs like Rhamphorynchus; the combination of this mismatched head, extremely thin skin-flap neck and leggy bipedal body is a bit of a mystery. We can only assume that, as with so many of the other illustrations in this book, Solonevich just thought it looked pretty damn...interesting. And it certainly does.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Life and Times of a Tyrannosaurus Rex

Youtuber Ana McMullen has uploaded a lecture by Dr. Thomas Holtz, "The Life and Times of a Tyrannosaurus Rex," delivered at Durham Museum. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Raptor Rendezvous 2013

My local rescue and rehab center for birds of prey, Indiana Raptor Center in Nashville, Indiana, is preparing for its big annual fundraiser, Raptor Rendezvous. If you're a resident of Indiana or surrounding states, I can't recommend it highly enough. Raptor rehabbers from around the Midwest come out, bringing a wide variety of birds. This year, I've also designed a 2014 calendar for InRC, which will be available at the event. The July illustration features, appropriately enough, the Bald Eagles above. They're Piper and Ben, two of InRC's residents.

I recently shared this preview image along with another one at my Tumblr. I also have all of the information about the Raptor Rendezvous there. In brief: it's on September 7, in the beautiful confines of Brown County State Park in Nashville, IN. The event will begin with a dinner, followed by an evening program starring a variety of birds. Did I mention the birds? It will be packed with birds, with special front-row seating area for photographers. The rehabbers are pretty cool, as far as humans go. They tell some good tales. Mostly about birds. If you're on Facebook, check out the event page, as well.

If you're unable to attend but would like to purchase a calendar, I can make that happen if you shoot me an email. If you can't afford to do either, I'd greatly appreciate tweets, Facebook shares, and reblogs of my Tumblr post.

Previous posts about Indiana Raptor Center:
Raptor Sunday
Great Horned Owls in Flight
Indiana Raptor Center Update
Raptor Rendezvous 2012

To see my photos of the birds of Indiana Raptor Center, check out my flickr collection. My Natural Indiana collection features a few sets of Brown County State Park photos.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Dinosaurs and more Dinosaurs - Part 1

This week's book was lent to me by none other than Dave Hone - he of Archosaur Musings and Guardian fame (he's also written a few scientific papers, or something). Not only that, it was once owned by a certain Darren Tanke, if the inscription inside the cover is to be believed. Of course, what's far more important than any of that is the starkly obvious fact that many of the illustrations in Dinosaurs and more Dinosaurs are quite deranged - with more slavering, fanged, gnarled faces and over-the-top caricatures than a half hour of Fox News.

Of course, this isn't to deny that the artwork has a certain beauty. Far from it - there's plainly a skilled artist at work here, with George Solonevich's superb (not to mention unusual, for a dinosaur book) use of a painting style that could be described as impasto; thick layers of paint built up to give an almost three-dimensional texture. [Late update: David has looked at his work before - see his post for more biographical info.] Dating from 1965, the book is also fairly typical of the period in depicting dinosaurs as being rather podgy, slothful and monstrous. All the same, it's hard to ignore the fact that, damn, they're freaky.

The book moves chronologically through the Mesozoic (no Dimetrodon this time!), starting with the Triassic likes of this suspiciously anthropomorphic Plateosaurus. Actually, this is one of the more humdrum entries in this compendium of stupendobeasts; the anatomy's certainly weird, but you can see what Solonevich is getting at. With some other animals, it's considerably more difficult to determine.

Take this slithering dragonoid, for example - it's either a particularly nightmarish vision of Nessie, come a-crawlin' from the murky depths of that infamous loch, or it's the Early Jurassic sauropodomorph Anchisaurus. Take your pick. In the book, this prickly-mawed monstrosity is identified as Yaleosaurus, one of several peculiar uses of synonymous names.

Taking a brief sojourn into the world of Jurassic theropods, this image of Ornitholestes (naturally, depicted chasing a flying animal) is one of my favourites, just for being particularly spindly and spidery, with jaws packed with teeth that go all the way back (something of a visual motif in this book). It also has toes like the crooked fingers of a wizened old fairy-tale crone. The voluminous throat pouch is a nice touch, I feel.

This one's quite easy to guess - it's a fat (ie. large) theropod with three fingers, so it must be Allosaurus (here identified as Antrodemus, one of those dodgy genera from the taxonomic anarchy of the 19th Century). The body is rather conventional by contemporary standards, and boasts some wonderfully executed texturing and careful use of tone. Atop this sits a pair of jaws, seemingly bereft of eyes, with a zipper-like mouth and the snaking tongue of an heraldic dragon. Grown large in its dotage on the fatty limbs of disobedient children, Antrodemus has succumbed to blindness, but nevertheless can smell the sticky fingers of boys and girls who eat too many sweets, and emerges from their wardrobes as they sleep.

But never mind all that - let's return to the far more friendly world of sauropodomorphs! Here we see Cetiosaurus, always a smiley fellow, and quite clever too - in fact, it wore its brains on the outside. It may have had "dull little teeth", but the life aquatic was anything but banal for our plumbing-necked friend.

Meanwhile, this here beast is enjoying a snorkelling safari better than our puny human money can buy. With its giraffe-like neck, hippo-like face and dugong-like body, Dicraeosaurus was a bizarre creature indeed. Still, this is a good opportunity to admire the artistic skill of the illustrator; in depicting such tangible textures (I could make a drinking game out of this post), masterful shading and adorable fishies.

Diplodocus also makes an appearance, and is in more dire need of moisturiser than a thoroughly modern gentleman in a cosmetics advertisement. The geezer clearly needs to get back to his deep lake, where he could "still breathe very nicely without poking his whole head out of the water". And you wouldn't want to do that - your bonce might get mashed up in the jaws of the every-hungry allosaurs lurking on the shoreline.

Finally - for now - here is Brachiosaurus, a beautifully textured (take a shot!) mound of misshapen stucco flesh. Behold its sad gaze and edge-of-the-pie-dish crest. There is something peculiar in this collision of artistic prowess and complete lack of scientific reference. This is where decades-old dinosaur books differ from the modern day - even when the dinosaurs were grotesquely unscientific, the skill of the artist could still render them beautiful in their own peculiar way, as opposed to looking like rejects from a foggy N64 shoot-'em-up. And that's why I'm still plugging away on this blog! That, and the plaudits.

Coming next time: a whole lot more. Sorry to say, we've hardly even started.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Book Review: My Beloved Brontosaurus

The gap between the popular "Dinosaur" and the scientific constructs of the animals called dinosaurs - an increasingly awkward classification, as Matt Martyniuk has pointed out - has been fertile material for this and other blogs. The natural world is not made of discrete, clean containers of organisms, but rather a messy, interconnected, continually evolving web of life reaching back into the obscurity of deep time. We humans like our toy boxes, though, organizing the components of the natural world in a way that makes us comfortable. That tension is at the heart of Brian Switek's recently published My Beloved Brontosaurus, in which he deftly brings the concerns of dinosaur fanatics regarding the dinosaurian public image to the popular culture.

Coming in at a little over 200 pages, Switek's second popular science book is a breezy read, accessible to an audience who may enjoy Radiolab and Science Friday, but doesn't follow all of the latest paleontology news on a regular basis. It's a beautifully designed book, with a dust cover folding out to a large double-sided poster by Mark Stutzman. On the front, Switek presents an Apatosaurus - deliberately outsized for dramatic purposes, Switek has explained - with a bouquet of flowers. On the back, he crouches before a mount of the same animal. Even the case binding is beautiful, with illustrated typography rendered as if revealed between layers of Lagerstätten. The illustrators whose work populates the book will be familiar to the on-line paleo community, too. Switek had the good taste to choose work from Mike Keesey, Jeff Martz, and our very own Niroot.

My Beloved Brontosaurus is loosely structured as a road trip, couching topics such as dinosaur origins, size, social life, bird ancestry, and sex in Switek's visits to museums and field sites. You can feel the exhilaration of stepping out into the clarity of the desert or peeking behind the curtains to see the inner workings of natural history museum collections. The way scientists explain ancient life accompany the popular stories of the same. He presents himself as a relentless searcher rather than an authority, with curiosity as his most essential tool.

For the die-hard paleontology fan, there won't be a lot of material that is brand-new, but it's still a refreshing read to travel along with a writer who clearly appreciates how lucky he is to be able to embark on these travels. And of course, it's always a treat to read someone so captivated by the romance of natural history. As he writes in his chapter about the end-Cretaceous extinction,
Turning over the Triceratops tooth in my hand... I envision an old, solitary dinosaur standing the Cretaceous twilight. One of her horns is broken, and her face is scarred with signs of a hard life in the land of tyrannosaurs. The terminal member of her species, she holds a lonely vigil as the horizon swallows the sun, and the Cretaceous closes.
Additionally, My Beloved Brontosaurus serves as an object lesson in how to communicate paleontological research, engaging less informed readers with the insights of creative researchers. In his chapter on the sensory life of dinosaurs, Switek recounts the way David Evans, Ryan Ridgely, and Larry Witmer spin research into dinosaur hearing to consider what it says about vocal ranges. For those whose only image of paleontolgy in practice is Grant and Sattler dusting off Velociraptor bones in the badlands, the creativity of modern paleontologists will be eye-opening.

It's more than simply a dinosaur book for adults, though: throughout, Switek subtly makes the case for science as a way to understand the world and, to that effect, the continual dialogue of science. It's an antidote to cartoonish headlines which give the impression that science keeps changing its mind. The way an answer blossoms into a field of new questions, the way scientists accept uncertainty and relish mystery is all in here. It's not a hard pitch, which makes it all the more effective. Switek's message is that dinosaurs are a relevant, vital field of study because the illumination extends to broader issues of evolution and the fate of our world. In the same way, My Beloved Brontosaurus uses the engaging topic of dinosaur lives as a way to celebrate the ongoing exploration of science at large.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mesozoic Miscellany 62

In the News
New research in Nature looks at the evolution of the avian brain by comparing endocasts of various avialans and maniraptorans, concluding that the high brain-to-body size ratio of modern birds evolved several times and that some non-flying feathered dinosaurs had a neurological capacity for flight better than famous Archaeopteryx. Carl Zimmer at The Loom writes, "If a bird-like brain was essential for the mental challenge of flying through the air, then these other dinosaurs had what it took for flight. It will be up to future paleontologists and ornithologists to figure out how flight shapes the brain, and how well other feathered dinosaurs could fly."

The Carter County Museum in Ekalaka, MT, recently hosted the Dino Shindig. Read about it at the Bozeman Magpie.

Dinosaur Auction Alert! Asher will have more coverage of this story soon.

Want to learn about dinosaurs from a genuine paleontological superstar? You now have your chance to learn from Dr. Philip Currie with the free online class Dino 101, offered by the University of Alberta. If only it didn't coincide with my last semester of Masters' studies, I'd be all about it.

Around the Dinoblogosphere
Head over to ART Evolved to check out the newly released gallery of tyrannosaur art. Amazing mix of stuff.

Paleontologist Thomas Carr has a new blog dedicated to arguably the most popular group of dinosaurs: Tyrannosauroidea Central.

A little broader in scope and providing refuge for the theropod-weary is The Ornithischian Revolution, a new blog from Ali Nabavizadeh.

At Dinosours, Ben Miller writes about the thorny issue of Henry Fairfield Osborn, who was both a huge bigot and a huge contributor to paleontological science.

Ever wonder about those omnipresent flocks of birds in Hollywood spectacles? Brian Thill wrote an intriguing piece about this bit of nearly subliminal CGI at the Atlantic.

The Jersey Boys recently headed West to beautiful New Mexico, and Chris has posted an initial piece about the trip, with more to come.

Mark Wildman muses about the potential for dinosaurs and the wider field of paleontology to pull children off of the couch at Saurian.

Paleoart Pick

Wrestling Plateosaurus by Commander Salamander on deviantART

Outrageously Off-Topic Indulgence
I love me some chiptune, so here's a great summer release on Pterodactyl Squad, Chiptune Verão by Videogame Orchestra. Available in both 8- and 16-bit!

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Short Arm of Facism!

Let's talk about Nazi Dinosaurs.

If we're being honest, it's kind of a weird subject to tackle. It's true that dinosaurs have a tendency to crop up in all kinds of strange places, carrying symbolic baggage that varies from the intuitive to the bizarre. They're symbols of old worlds, forgotten spaces, embodying the horrors of deep time and extinction. Sometimes they're agents of cool. Sometimes they're just animals.

Occasionally, however, it appears that dinosaurs (like other large entities who should know better) get tangled up in fascism. It's a sadly common story. One day you're a normal theropod--and they are always theropods--going about your business, and the next you're dressing in ill-considered regalia and attempting to heil a tiny, screaming little mammalian lunatic. With difficulty, of course, because your wrists don't bend that way.

While dinosaurs are not the only old, outmoded institution to occasionally flirt with fascism (as Prince Harry can attest) they do seem to do it with some regularity. The team behind the recent video game Dino D-Day, not content to simply unleash cloned prehistory upon the freedom loving world, have announced an animated series. One can only imagine what kind of wacky adventures those kraut karnosaurs will get up to.

Some dinosaurs are more committed then others, of course. The poor beast battling Boy King and The Giant doesn't seem entirely interested in the cause, wearing only a giant headband around one thigh. Which does demonstrate a properly fascist lack of imagination.

Nothing brings death to democracy quite like misplaced accessories.

Other dinosaurs are true believers. One such is Tyrannosaurus Reich, a character from DC Comics who wears a full Nazi uniform and speaks only in German. Wikipedia blandly notes that he "...was pulled to earth through a dimensional portal from a dimension inhabited by Nazi dinosaurs," because comics are immune to such petty constraints as taste, logic, or sanity.

Really, this image raises more questions then it answers. How does a dimension of dinosaurs fall under the sway of Nazism, considering the complex factors that lead to the party's eventual takeover of the German state? Did a copy of Mein Kampf, cast adrift through the ether by some mad scientist, strike a random dinosaur like a bolt of evil inspiration? Can dinosaurs read German? What does dinosaurian Nazism entail, exactly? Who made the gun? 

While the conflation of dinosaurs with Nazism is understandable, there are subtle differences. One of them is a savage relic of a different, stupider time, a dead end, a miserable mistake whose last struggling remnants will eventually fixed by the long sweep of history. The other evolved into birds.

But imagine for a moment how comforting that comparison is. What a visceral symbol, locking away the greatest existential threat of the twentieth century within the twisted body of an extinct organism! A plucked extinct organism, at that. While it's possible that these are simply the archosaurian equivalent of skinheads, a more likely explanation presents itself for the lack of feathers. These dinosaurs, like neo-nazi movements of today, are locked in the past. Fossilized. Going nowhere.

After all, you don't see feathered dinosaurs indulging in this lunacy, do you?