Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mesozoic Miscellany 76

The Big News

Fossil hunter Wendy Sloboda was honored for her years of work with the description of Wendiceratops pinhornensis. While it's always fun to see a new ceratopsian with some new configuration of headgear published, this is especially interesting because it's the earliest known centrosaurine ceratopsid. Read more: Integrative Paleontologists, Laelaps, Royal Ontario Museum.

The publication of a new Cretaceous snake, Tetrapodophis, was met with a mix of delight, surprise, and facepalms. While snakes experimented with a variety of limb configurations during the cretaceous, Tetrapodophis was the first found that reveals four limbs. They're small, and probably more useful for grasping than locomotion, but they're there. Unfortunately, the provenance and legality of the fossil is questionable. I'm going to go ahead and just suggest reading Dr. Shaena Montanari's article for Forbes Science, which explains both the potential significance of the find as well as a good dissection of the ethical and legal concerns.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

At Pseudoplocephalus, Victoria Arbour shares pics from her visit to Dinosaurs Unearthed.

Not Mesozoic and I don't care! Gareth Monger's cute Hallucigenia.

Check out Rebecca Groom's life-size Velociraptor plushie!

Speaking of plushies of the prehistoric orientation, check out the Kickstarter campaign by Jungle Plush. The company says they strive "to make our plushies in a way so that any young dino enthusiast can easily identify and learn about their favorite dinosaur, all while having fun at the same time." And it looks like the campaign has funded! There are a few more days to chip in, however.

What can be said about the spinal cords of extinct animals? Liz Martin's got some ideas.

Fernanda Castano has a post specially crafted for all you lovers of paleontology's history: Owen, Dickens, and the Invention of Dinosaurs.

At The Integrative Paleontologists, Andy Farke interviews Mike Keesey about his terrific website, Phylopic.

Dave Hone is publishing a book about tyrannosaurs!

Speaking of the tyrants, Mark Witton cops to a bit of a bias towards them in his art of late...

At Method Quarterly, Laura Bliss writes a nice triptych of interviews, providing an introduction to paleoart for the uninitiated. Read what Doug Henderson, Mark Witton, and Emily Willoughby have to say.

Paleoart Pick

I love paleoart that tells a story. Certainly, restorations that Marc refers to as "spotter's guide" style (isolated against a white background) have their place, and I often love them. But a well-thought out paleoart story captures the atmosphere of a lost world, has the feeling of a dream made real. Emily Willoughby is a master of this, as shown in her recent take on Zhenyuanlong suni, a new dromaeosaur from China. Read more about the story she is telling over at her DeviantArt page.

Zhenyuanlong suni, © Emily Willoughby. Shared with the artist's permission.

Filthy Lucre Corner

Blame Mammoth is Mopey for the lag in round-ups. It's pretty well been a full-time job since March. Once the campaign was funded, production and fulfillment ate up most of my and Jennie's time. But this week, with the completion and release of the expanded ebook, things are easing up quite a bit. Now my main task is to complete the custom illustration perks, which are proving to be quite a bit of fun. I've been spending time with a studious dromaeosaur, a notorious Triassic weirdo, some charismatic canids. I'll be sure to share them here when they're done!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Vintageish Dinosaur Art: The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Dinosaurs

Did you know that if you placed every dinosaur book written by Michael Benton end-to-end, they would stretch three times around the equator? Along with good ol' Dougal 'Dixie' Dixon, Benton is surely one of the most prolific authors of popular books on extinct saurians. Similarly to Dixon, the sheer number of Benton-authored books means that the quality of the illustrations contained within them varies greatly. While not dreadful, the art in The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Dinosaurs isn't particularly memorable; it's the sort of serviceable, highly Sibbick-inspired artwork you'd expect to see in a randomly selected dino book from the mid-'90s. That said, it's still interesting to spot all those beloved '90s tropes, some of which still refuse to die. (Oh, and I have cheated a bit - this book's from 1996, so isn't quite old enough to qualify for VDA. Then again...rules, who needs 'em?)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Vintage Dinosaur Art: The Lost World (Ladybird)

Ladybird books are a firm favourite of mine, since (like many other Brits) I have very fond memories of learning to read with them as a child - not just those bought for me at the time, but also hand-me-downs, which were all the more special. Their factual dinosaur book remains a favourite - laughably outdated these days, but still beautifully illustrated by LITC stalwart Bernard Robinson. Ladybird also published simplified versions of classic tales; as a child, I had their version of Robinson Crusoe. Until last week, I had no idea that these included The Lost World, and happily it's just as lavishly illustrated (by Martin Aitchison, this time) and entertaining as ever.