Thursday, July 28, 2016

Port Lympne's Dinosaur Forest

Port Lympne (pronounced like 'limb') is a wildlife park in Kent, not too far from Hythe, which along with Howletts zoo (nearer Canterbury) is run by the Aspinall Foundation. Port Lympne houses a huge variety of mammal species, and notably features safari truck rides through a sprawling 'savannah' paddock, as well as a number of very rare species that you won't see in many other parks. As of this year, it also features life-size model dinosaurs (andotherprehistoricanimals) designed by industry stalwarts Wolter Design. They're (often) huge, numerous, colourful, varied and actually rather good. Here's a selection.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Predatory Dinosaurs of the World - Part 3

Who asked for one more round of Predatory Dinosaurs of the World? No? Well you're getting it anyway. If it's any consolation, you might not have expected to see Dimetrodon and Eryops showing up in a book with such a title, and yet here they are. Pesky Dimetrodon, always sticking its giant fin in where it isn't welcome.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Recreating an Age of Reptiles: Marc's review

While recent years have seen a number of books that celebrate palaeoart for its own sake (rather than featuring it in a purely illustrative context), not enough of them feature explanations by the artists as to why they made this or that choice when restoring long-dead animals. Why that colour pattern? Why that crest of scales? Why that unusual plumage distribution? Informed speculation is an absolute necessity, but it doesn't mean that (good) palaeoartists are just pulling the lever on an extinct beastie fruit machine and cobbling together the results. Perhaps the best aspect of Mark Witton's new book, Recreating an Age of Reptiles (aka Rec-a-Rep), is that Mark consistently provides the informed thinking behind his speculative choices, as well as explaining the science that forms the foundation of all his art. It's easily one of the best palaeoart books in years, and not just because Mark's artwork is often very lovely.

Images copyright Mark Witton, used with permission. Remember, "there's a special circle of hell...located halfway up Satan's bottom" for art thievin' types. (And book pirates.)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Mesozoic Miscellany 87

In the News

Cool news regarding a shared origin of feathers, hair, and scales: Nicolas Di-Poï and Michel Milinkovitch of the University of Geneva have published research tracing them all to the shared ancestors of modern birds, mammals, and reptiles. It all has to do with placodes, thickenings of the skin in embryos which had until now not been observed in developing reptiles, though the same genes had been found to control these three forms of integument. Read more at CS Monitor and Cosmos Magazine.

Not everyday you get to see 100 millon-year-old enantornithine wings in amber! Amazing stuff. More from NatGeo, WaPo, and Earth Archives.

New research studying tooth wear patterns reveals that the Leptoceratops chewed like a mammal.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

Missed this last year, but saw it pop up on the old Facebook recently. An interview with the one and only Dr. Tom Holtz.

The conflict between private and public interests in fossils isn't going away. At the Inverse, Jacqueline Ronson writes about an important sauropod skeleton from Montana that's in the hands of a private firm, the Judith River Dinosaur Institute.

Trish Arnold offers up a slab of 1993 pop-paleontology goodness with an issue of Time magazine featuring... Mononykus on the cover, of all things.

Meet the pterosaurs of the Liverpool World Museum, courtesy Paul Pursglove at the Pterosaur Database.

She's headed for Toronto soon, and Victoria Arbour offers a tour of North Carolina geology before she leaves.

Tristan Stock is not a fan of the "Montanaspinus" prank from last month.

At Letters from Gondwana, Fernanda Castano writes about the end-Permian and end-Triassic extinctions.

Gareth Monger celebrates the humble conodont - which has been gone from this planet since the end-Triassic - in a new design riffing on the poster for Alien 3.

Crowdfunding Pick

Mongolia is undoubtedly one of the most important countries in the history of palaeontology, but too many important fossils have been taken away. A new crowdfunding effort seeks to bring the wonder of Mongolia's scientific treasures to the country's children via a moveable museum. "Kids in the communities we visit will board the moveable museum to experience the interactive exhibits, and join classroom activities about dinosaurs, fossils and the relationship of dinosaurs to modern birds." Pledge your support today!

Paleoart Pick

Mark Witton's long-awaited book of palaeoart is out now! Pick up Recreating an Age of Reptiles at Lulu. Sit back to enjoy this launch video from Mark.

I love how he expressed the idea of "credibility" in palaeoart. His point that many depictions of prehistoric life can depict equally valid hypotheses is in line with my feelings over the past few years. Wouldn't it be great if at least some palaeontology press releases or media coverage included multiple reconstructions, driving home the point that there are no concrete answers for many of our questions? Anyhow. Pick up a copy of the book.