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.