Do the words "giant Antarctic mosasaur" get your attention? Sure they do. Why wouldn't they? Meet Kaikaifilu hervei. Everything Dinosaur has the story, or read Rodrigo Otero et al's original paper for the princely sum of $37.95 at ScienceDirect.
Unfortunately, the figure in the paper is yet another case of art theft in the scientific literature. And this time, LITC's own Asher Elbein is the victim. Compare the images below.
This is plainly an incidence of art theft. It seems that at some point, someone posted Asher's original to Dinopedia, changing the license to a creative commons license (hopefully by the time you're reading this, the site has responded to Asher's DMCA takedown notice by removing it). Then Otero or someone working on the paper found it one one of those two sites and traced it (looks like it is a slightly modified Illustrator auto-trace) without credit or compensation.
Scientists, you cannot just take art for your papers. Asher deserves to be compensated and credited in this paper. How do you people expect artists to produce the work you clearly depend on to illustrate your research if you're not willing to do the bare minimum to credit and compensate?
Some folks haven't liked it when I've said it in the past, but I'll say it again: there is no paleontology outreach without paleoart. Own up to it.
Update: 3pm EST, December 4, 2016
Well, this post certainly inspired conversation. In fact, it is by a long stretch the most commented upon post in LITC history. I appreciate all of the comments, critical and supportive.
There are some takeaways.
First of all, it's clear that the authors of this paper did not willfully infringe Asher's copyright. No one was trying to rip him off. In fact, Rodrigo Otero left a lengthy comment which explained how this happened, but it has since been deleted (more on this below).
So, the most charitable explanation is that the author(s) were unaware of what a Creative Commons license entails - at the very least, it would require attribution, therefore a misattribution would imply an understanding of the license. Since there was no attribution, there's a clear misunderstanding of ethical image use.
This is a misunderstanding many people share. It is not limited to the authors of this one paper. So, in an effort to add to the conversation in a productive way, I'll be putting together at the very least an "Introduction to Creative Commons" post, and perhaps a broader "Image Use Best Practices" post as well, with the goal of dispelling misunderstanding about exactly what a CC license is, and what responsibilities it entails. I have no illusions that this would fix the problem, but it may help. Note that I can be charitable and also call this stuff out. There's really no excuse for not understanding image use guidelines.
I allow that the image was used in a graphical abstract, if not the paper itself, though I had no way to peer over the pay wall to know that. Whether in a graphical abstract or a paper, the point remains. I understand that not everyone enjoys reading angry words from artists. This anger is rooted in a pervasive culture of devaluing artists' work, a problem that even occurs in the vaunted world of science. This anger is warranted, even if you feel blindsided by it. I've had my mind opened to societal problems by the anger of victims, so I'll maintain that muted civility is not the only tool we have to change an unsatisfactory status quo.
Regarding the deleted comment: I'd like to repeat here that I did not delete a single comment on this post. If I delete a comment, I will always provide an explanation. Any removed comments were either deleted by their original poster on purpose or by mistake, or by a Blogger glitch. If you had a comment removed by accident or glitch, I can easily email it to you. Just let me know! All comments are delivered to me by email, so there is record of them in their original form. Then you can repost it. If this seems to be a glitch that's happened repeatedly, I will report to Blogger (though I'm not optimistic that it will be fixed, thus my intention to move to WordPress).
Whoa, that update was longer then the original post! Anyhow, thanks for reading and contributing to the conversation in the comments.
Update: 4:10pm EST, December 4, 2016
Rodrigo Otero has written another comment below, please be sure to read it. Seems we have a good resolution here. Thanks for the comment, Rodrigo!
And yes, as Matt Martyniuk suggests in a comment below, Blogger's comment platform is garbage. I swear I'm intending a WordPress migration as soon as it's feasible.