Monday, December 18, 2017

Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs has moved!

We've switched over to a WordPress site! LITC 2.0 can be found at Please update your RSS feeds accordingly.

This site will stay as-is for the time being. I've been unable to get an importer to work—we have too much content here—so I'll just keep this site alive as an archive.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Great 2017 Palaeoart Survey: some thoughts

What can we learn from the results of David's palaeoart survey? Well, from an admittedly quite small sample size of only 350 people, palaeoartists appear to mostly be young, male and not in it for the money. Over half of those surveyed were aged between 18 and 35, 71% identified as male, and only 144 of them identified themselves as professionals, working for clients. Cynics might note few surprises, other than John Conway and Mark Witton being crowned the Kings of Palaeoart (seriously guys, how many people have you been bribing?). All the same, an intriguing picture emerges of the field, and some of the comments provided by the pros really are rather concerning.

This is your god now. From John Conway's Twitter.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The 2017 Survey of Paleoartists: Results

Promotional graphic for the results to the 2017 Survey of Paleoartists. Illustration by Natee Puttapipat. Please feel free to download and distribute!

Back in March, I launched the 2017 Survey of Paleoartists, which took answers over the course of the month. It was largely developed with help from Matt Celeskey, Bob Nicholls, and Mark Witton, as well as input from Emily Willoughby, Brian Engh, and Glendon Mellow. Today I'm excited to share the report of our findings, available here. If you would like to share the report, please use the shortlink, as this will help me get a rough idea of how many people are accessing it.

At that link, you'll find two versions of the report, an interactive PDF with navigational hyperlinks that weighs 5.48 MB and a smaller version that's half the size, with no interactive elements.

I'll keep this post a brief announcement of the release of the report. Marc Vincent will soon be publishing a post here offering his analysis, and I'm sure other bloggers will, as well. If you would like to write about the survey and want to include figures from the report, please write me at davieorr(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll get you a link to web-ready versions.

Thanks to everyone who took the survey! I look forward to the discussions surrounding the findings.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

This Mesozoic Month: November 2017

In the News

The month kicked off with Brussatte et al's response to the Ornithoscelida paper from this spring. What this team has found? Basically, we don't know what dinosaur phylogeny in the broadest scale looks like. It's equally plausible that any of our current models are correct. At the base of the tree, we're dealing with a bunch of similar, hard-to-distinguish Triassic critters, and we need more of them to resolve the issue of what the tree looks like up in the limbs and branches. Read more at Live Science.

The newest look of Anchiornis, illustrated by Rebecca Gelernter and distributed with press materials by the University of Bristol.
Anchiornis has been revised yet again, this time with details of its totally weird feathers. It sported totally weird V-shaped plumaceous feathers and its totally weird wing surfaces were made of multiple rows of feathers whose barbs were not tightly zipped together the way those of modern birds are. Read more from the Inverse, Phys Org, and Live Science.

New research describes the post-apocalyptic world of the early Paleogene. Read more at Gizmodo.

Also looking at that post-Mesozoic world, a new paper demonstrates a shift from nocturnal to diurnal lifestyles among Post-K/Pg mammals. Read more from UCL.

Can we infer body mass from ichnological traces? New research using sauropod tracks from Copper Ridge aims to do just that. Read more from David Moscato, writing for Earth Magazine.

Do you lek it like that? Seems some Jurassic theropods did. Read more from Brian Switek at Laelaps.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

Andy Farke speaks out for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument at the SVP blog.

Hopefully, you've had a chance to read Asher's insightful interview with Mark Witton from a couple days ago. Be sure to also read his recent piece for the Atlantic, which used the publication of Dinosaur Art II and Taschen's Paleoart to examine the history, present, and future of paleoart.

Which taxa were crowned the top ten open access fossils of 2017? Let's just say the fish lobby really stepped up. Read the list at PLoS.

At the Celestial Troodon blog, Midiaou Diallo shares his thoughts about the recent Sinosauropteryx paper.

Venturing out of the Mesozoic, Zach Miller has a wonderful post on borophagine dogs, specifically Aelurodon, as he was able to procure a nice cast of the holotype fossil in the SVP silent auction this year.

Victoria Arbour traveled to spain for the Dinosaurios 2.0 conference, and writes about her experiences at Pseudoplocephalus.

Writing for the Guardian, Brian Switek muses about a world in which the KT event didn't happen.

Liz Martin-Silverstone wraps up her series of 150 cool facts about Canadian palaeontology at Musings of a Clumsy Palaeontologist.

Are you aware of the "birds are not dinosaurs" crowd, but perhaps not completely clear on their arguments? Well, Darren Naish has written a post at TetZoo that will be a huge help to you. One thing I didn't realize about the BANDits is that "they’ve – I think unwittingly – moulded themselves into a distinct social group, even going so far as wearing special badges at conferences." Wow.

Matt Wedel loves Xenoposeidon and it's honestly extremely adorable. Darren also discusses the last ten years of Xenoposeidon in the literature at TetZoo.

The Empty Wallets Club

May I suggest smashing this link to our annual dinosaur gift guide?

One thing I missed and probably would have included in the guide is Mark Hallett's 2018 calendar. Thanks to Matt Wedel for calling attention to it at SV-POW!

The LITC AV Club

PBS's Eons covers feathered dinosaurs in its latest episode. But why oh why did they use Damned Dromaeosaurs for some of the art?

The Saurian team previews their latest patch. Can't wait to play it! I'll need a new PC, but I'm patient, and they're continually working to improve gameplay.

Brian Engh showed just how much TLC goes into each of his pieces in a recent video condensing an hour of his process down to about a minute.

In the podcast world, Tyrannosauroidea Central's Thomas Carr shares a series of YouTube interviews he sat for with Arsen Kazaryen, and The I Know Dino crew caught up with Dr. Michael Habib recently.

Crowdfunding Spotlight

Help Annalisa Berta and Susan Turner, writers of the upcoming book Bone Hunters: A History of Women in Vertebrate Paleontology, head to SVP 2018 to conduct video interviews related to the project. Donate at GoFundMe.

If you're into dinosaur art that's on the silly, pulpy side, check out the Kickstarter campaign for Charlie Chiodo's book of dinosaur illustrations.

A Moment of Paleoart Zen

This month inspired by a post on Facebook about how tyrannosaurs might best down an ankylosaur, I'm featuring Thai artist Nattawut Wongta's recent piece depicting T. rex victorious over an Ankylosaurus. Love the look in the tyrant's eye. Check out more of Wongta's work at DeviantArt.

Tyrannosaurus and Ankylosaurus illustration by Nattawut Wongta, used here with the artist's permission.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Paleoart Addendum: An Interview with Mark Witton

I recently got the chance to write a piece for The Atlantic about the history of dinosaur illustration, jumping off of Zoe Lescaze's Paleoart and Steve White's Dinosaur Art 2, which our own Marc gave a stellar review. (I liked it quite a bit myself.)

 In discussing modern paleoart, I did what anybody would do and talked to Dr. Mark Witton about theories and best practices. Only a little bit of that conversation made it into the piece--it's a thing that happens, what with editors and such--but I liked the conversation enough I asked Mark if we could run it here, to which he graciously assented. He's got very interesting stuff to say after the jump!

Scaly Tyrannosaurus, Copyright Mark Witton

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Lost World, 20 years on

Last week, fanpersons all over the world were sent into a tizzy by a precious few seconds of footage from next year's Jurassic World sequel. In it, hunk-o-saurus Chris Pratt appeared to be acquainting himself with some sort of slightly unconvincing-looking, bug-eyed, lizardlike CG creature. It got me thinking about an idea that I had earlier this year, but rejected 'cos it seemed way too predictable and slightly tiresome - a retrospective on the first JP movie sequel, The Lost World, which was released 20 years ago this year. You never know - it might be more fun than trashing San Diego and eating the family dog.

From Jurassic Wiki.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Meet the artist: Jed Taylor

As if you need any further reasons to attend TetZooCon, here's one more. A couple of years ago I ran into a fellow in the post-TZC-pub with a folder full of his own dinosaur drawings. Natee and I had a look, and were suitably impressed; there was room for improvement, but it was a very solid foundation.

Two years later, and the same bloke - Jed Taylor - approached me again in the pub. And this time, I was blown away. His dromaeosaurs are among the best I've ever seen, but it doesn't stop there; he's illustrated a plethora of dinosaurs in a gorgeous, naturalistic style that's very much in the post-Paulian (sorry again), Floof Revolution mould. Even Andrea Cau's heaped praise on his work, and he's very hard to please. I asked Jed if he could write about his work for the blog, and he supplied the following very many lovely words, which it felt quite criminal to edit down. It may be a little 'TL;DR' for some, but it wasn't for me. Enjoy.

Jed's gorgeous Acheroraptor portrait. All art © Jed Taylor, used with permission.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The 2017 Dinosaur Gift Guide

It's time again for our yearly dinosaur gift guide, a fine tradition in its fourth year. As usual, I encourage you to check out all of the past editions (2014, 2015 and 2016) as well, since most listings are still active and we've featured so many cool products, most from independent artists and small companies. It is always difficult to keep this post concise, and this year we have had so many cool and creative things put out in the world by the paleo-enthusiast community. Let's jump in!


Dinosaur Art II

Titan Books' Dinosaur Art II repeats the winning formula of the original Dinosaur Art, but focuses on some of today's finest paleoartists. The title received a glowing review from Marc in this space, so if you need to be convinced, read that, and then order a copy here!

Dinosaur Empire

I heaped praise upon Abby Howard's wonderful Dinosaur Empire in August. This is an essential part of any dinosaur book collection, but if you're specifically looking for something for a dinosaur enthusiast in elementary school, this is absolutely perfect. It's available from Abrams books.

A to Zuul by Stephen Darteville

Victoria Arbour chimed in with this adorable book when I asked the LITC team for suggestions. Darteville has a really fun, engaging style that's full of personality. Each copy comes with a set of stickers, too! Pick your copy up from Gumroad.

Animals of a Bygone Era: An Illustrated Compendium

Another good title for a young prehistory fan is this one by Maja Säfström. Don't let the wonderfully fanciful illustrations fool you: this book digs deep and introduces readers to some seriously obscure critters. We also reviewed this one this year. Pick it up from Penguin Random House.


Beasts of the Mesozoic figures

After a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, the Beasts of the Mesozoic series of poseable raptor figures are almost here. My personal favorite is the Dromaeosaurus, pictured above. You can pick them up via Backerkit!

The 2017 Wild Safari Dinosaur Collection

I asked Marc Vincent for a recommendation for dinosaur figures to include and he immediately suggested anything in Wild Safari's 2017 collection. When I saw them I was pretty stunned. They're wonderful all around, and although I'm no collector, there are a few here I'd love to acquire - especially that Deinocheirus, Velociraptor, and Diplodocus. You can purchase them from Safari LTD, but unfortunately the 2017 models aren't all collected on one page. I'd suggest browsing the set at the Dinosaur Toy Blog and then searching the Safari site for the one you want.


Ankylosaurus by Fabrizio De Rossi

The launch of Studio 252 MYA about a year ago filled a huge on-line need for enthusiasts of prehistory: an easy-to-use, well-designed shop to pick up all manner of paleoart merch, from tees to prints to mugs. I could probably just fill this entire post with products from their roster of artists. Instead, I'll feature Fabrizio De Rossi's beautiful Ankylosaurus print and suggest you spend some time browsing the entire site.

Colorful prints by Mary Sanche

Mary Sanche, who runs the Redbubble shop Thoughts up North, has created a series of prints featuring themed groupings of mesozoic fauna, each in their own color tint. They'd look fantastic as a set!. Check out her Theropods, Pterosaurs, Ceratopsians, and Marine Reptiles, pictured above.

Zhenyuanlong by Emily Willoughby

Emily Willoughby has no shortage of beautiful artwork to choose from, but I wanted to feature one of my all-time favorites in this guide: her Zhenyuanlong . Pick it up in a variety of formats at Zazzle.

Strutting Stegosaurus by Levi Hastings

Levi Hastings has a way of distilling prehistoric beasts down to their most essential forms and playing with rhythmic elements of anatomy that is really satisfying to me. Add in a knack for finding unique color palettes and you've got paleoart that looks beautiful hanging just about anywhere. Find his Strutting Stegosaurus on Society 6 (incidentally, I really love the paper Society 6 uses for their art prints - you'd swear it was an original watercolor).

Risographs by Greer Stothers

Greer Stothers' ceratopsian enamel pins are awesome, so you should definitely buy a set of those, but I also wanted to feature her risograph prints, which feature really cool color palettes and lovely, minimalist compositions. I love the Saurornitholestes above, but there are more awesome ones to choose from in her shop.


I'm a fan of heraldic designs featuring prehistoric animals, so Rebecca Groom's tees make me giddy. Her Yi qi is pictured above, and she's also got a Velociraptor design.

Globidens tee by Jaime Headden

The black tee with a white design is a staple of my wardrobe, but now that my cherished short-faced bear tee from the Field Museum looks like it was used for target practice, I need another for the mix. Jaime Headden's terrific Globidens skull tee fits the bill perfectly, so on my list it goes!

World Dinosaur Federation by Seven Hundred

This is just a great idea, executed well. Available on tees and hoodies from TeeFury.


Angela Radick creates super cute prehistoric enamel pins, and has funded a couple sets with successful crowdfunding campaigns. To browse her current selection, head to the PaleoPins Etsy shop. I'm especially fond of the chompy Carnotaurus above.

That's a wrap for this year's guide! Of course, this is just a small selection of what's out there. So feel free to share your favorite gift ideas in the comments, too.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Terrible Lizards - a bestiary

Believe it or not, I'm not familiar at all with Dungeons & Dragons. Of course I know what it is, and that there's a Dungeon Master overseeing things and lots of high fantasy and dice and such, but not much more than that. It's just not something that I've really been exposed to (if you'll forgive the use of a word that makes it sound slightly unseemly). So, I was intrigued when we were contacted by Ralph Stickley, who's produced a bestiary entitled Terrible Lizards, with the laudable aim of bringing up-to-date dinosaurs to the game.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Recent Paleoillustration from David

I try not to use LITC as a way to just share a ton of my work, but I'm in the mood to at the moment, so you'll just have to bear with me. This spring I did a couple of feathered theropods, and looking back at them I'm still rather pleased with the style. I find that I'm finally to the point where I generally like things I create more than I dislike them. That feels like some sort of milestone.

Falcarius by David Orr
Utahraptor by David Orr

So I decided to draw a stegosaur, because I don't often (ever) do that. But I couldn't just pick Stegosaurus because that's a little obvious. So I went with good ol' Kentrosaurus instead.

Kentrosaurus by David Orr

Anyhow, I won't keep you too long. If you're fond of these and would like to support some independent art on this fine day, feel free to check these out in my Redbubble shop's Paleoillustration section. Even though it's a mouthful, I like "paleoillustration" as a term for this kind of thing - less baggage than "paleoart." Feels like it affords more wiggle room for whimsy.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Dinosaur Art II - Marc's review

You may find it difficult to believe (or just unsettling to contemplate), but it's been five years since the publication of the original Dinosaur Art, that gorgeous-looking coffee table compendium of "The World's Greatest Palaeoart". Five years is a long time in the world of scientifically-informed life reconstructions of prehistoric animals, and so now editor Steve White and Titan Books are back with Dinosaur Art II: The Cutting Edge of Palaeoart. Is it just more of the same? Well, not quite; there aren't too many surprises, and the format remains largely unchanged, but there is a little more stylistic variation than before, including a breakout into the world of model sculpting. What's perhaps most telling is how DA2 brings the series into the post-Paulian age.

Dodgy photo from my sofa.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

This Mesozoic Month: October 2017

In the News

Drepanosaurs are having quite a moment. And now, we've got a new member of the club: Avicranium. Described by Adam Pritchard and Sterling Nesbitt, its noggin does look awfully bird-like (as you may have guessed from that generic name). It even received a gorgeous reconstruction from Matt Celeskey!

If you've ever watched the dipping and rising trajectory of a woodpecker flying between trees, you've witnessed "bounding flight." New research reveals that a small enantornithine from the Jehol Biota, Junornis, did the same. Read more from Dave Hone in the Guardian and Fernanda Castano at Letters from Gondwana.

In further Jehol Biota news, Sinosauropteryx is the subject of newly published research seeking to resolve its coloration in life. Fian Smithwick et al describe the little bugger as the resident of a fairly open habitat, sporting countershaded coloration a dapper bandit mask (see Bob Nicholl's restoration). It also confirms that the banded tail present in this little comsognathid's fossil remains is the result of the preservation of melanin, and not any other artifact of preservation. This research also broadens our knowledge of the Jehol environment, previously known to have been chiefly enclosed forest.

"Only three good specimens are known for Ankylosaurus," Victoria Arbour writes. So she and Jordan Mallon went about a comprehensive review of what we've learned since Carpenter's comprehensive 2004 paper. What's especially cool is that this reappraisal was spurred by her consultations with the Saurian team. Read about Arbour and Mallon's conclusions at Pseudoplocephalus and from Brian Switek at Laelaps.

They grow up so fast! The first known newborn ichthyosaur fossil has been described.

New research on a site in the Kaiparowits plateau offers a ton of insight into hadrosaur nesting behavior. Read more from Pete Bucholz at Earth Archives and Duane Nash at Antediluvian Salad.

How old are cockroaches? Though there's a common misconception that they date back to the Carboniferous, a new review of the oldest true cockroach fossils dates them to the Mesozoic.

Remains of a giant azhdarchid from Mongolia's Nemegt Formation have been published. Head to Pteros for more.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

Another TetZooCon has come and gone. Darren Naish writes about the event at the TetZoo blog, and Albertonykus and our own Marc Vincent also offer their own recaps.

At the SVP blog, check out Christian Kammerer's interview with Zoë Lescaze, author of the new Taschen book on paleoart.

Mark Witton has provided his own insightful review of Lescaze's book at Palaeo-Electro.

Time to vote for the top ten fossil taxa of 2017! Head to PLOS Paleo Community to learn more.

At Tet Zoo, Darren Naish writes about the history of Protoichthyosaurus.

Head to the Saurian devlog to see how they've updated their Ankylosaurus model with Victoria Arbour's help.

At Hydrarchos, Ilja Nieuwland writes about Friedrich König's plaster dinosaurs.

The Bearded Lady Project is hitting the road. Follow the project's website to see if a screening and portrait exhibition is coming your way.

The powerhouse paleoart team of Scott Elyard and Raven Amos ran the IAmSciArt Twitter account for a week during October. Head to their first tweet and scroll through for a treasure trove of paleoart insight.

And that's not all in the realm of rotating curator accounts on Twitter: Liz Martin-Silverstone guested at BioTweeps, too. As you might expect, she covered pterosaurs, but also dug into many other facets of a career in palaeontology. Start here.

The Empty Wallets Club

Dinosaur Art II is now available! The first Dinosaur Art volume was a big hit among readers, offering a look at some of the most influential paleoartists of the last forty years. The sequel focuses on contemporary artists, including Andrey Atuchin, Emily Willoughby, Sergey Krasovskiy, Velizar Simeonovski, Mark Witton, Julio Lacerda Jason Brougham, Vitali Klatt, Peter Schouten, and Tom Bjorklund. Also, Witton wrote an article about the book, as well as a defense of palaeoart as a scientific practice, at Boing Boing.

If you're a fan of more abstract and stylized paleoillustration, you'll want to check out Lonely Planet's Dinosaur Atlas, illustrated in vivid vector awesomeness by James Gilleard. Check out more of his beautiful work from the book at Behance.

Toronto artist Greer Stothers has been creating colorful enamel pins of ceratopsids, with Triceratops and Wendiceratops available now. Protoceratops and Styracosaurus are coming soon. Be sure to check out her beautiful risograph prints as well (yeah, you can expect to see these in the upcoming holiday guide).

The LITC AV Club

Brian Engh was a guest on the Scicomm Monday show, talking paleoart, including the awesome new battlin' mastodons piece he created for the Western Science Center. Check it out on Periscope.

The Dinosaur George podcast hosted trusty ol' Dave Hone, who discussed dinosaur behavior.

The In Defense of Plants podcast got into palaeobotany again, as host Matt Candeias spoke with Jeff Benca about lycopsids.

Another of my favorites is "In Our Time," and host Melvyn Bragg recently talked feathered dinosaurs with Michael Benton, Maria McNamara, and Steve Brusatte.

Crowdfunding Spotlight

The Royal Ontario Museum needs help preparing Zuul's tail club! Head to this site to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign.

A Moment of Paleoart Zen

Dawndinos is a five year research project studying the ways locomotion played a role in the success of the earliest dinosaurs. Paleoart titan Bob Nicholls was commissioned to create an original illustration for the team, and delivered a doozy: Archosaurian Dawn, in which a Marasuchus flock scavenges fallen Aetosauroides carcasses as a Gracilisuchus passes by in the foreground.

Archosaurian Dawn by Bob Nicholls, posted here with his permission.

Read more about Bob's process in creating the piece at the Dawndinos website.

Monday, October 23, 2017

TetZooCon 2017

On Saturday October 21, Natee and I once again attended TetZooCon, the convention spun off (lest we forget) from Darren Naish's long-running blog, Tetrapod Zoology (currentlyhostedatScientificAmerican), and the incredibly tightly focused and well-edited TetZoo Podcast. It's becoming the very best kind of annual tradition. Better even than Christmas; all the boozing is there*, but you get to hear awesome zoology-themed talks and schmooze it up with renowned scientists and artists, rather than having to pretend to like your extended family. For its fourth iteration, the show moved venues and was even bigger and grander than ever; a bit like Jurassic World with more convincing dinosaurs and female characters. Here's how it all went down.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Vintage Dinosaur Art: In the Days of the Dinosaurs - Part 2

Have you thought much about Corythosaurus recently? No? Well, no one seems to care so much about Corythosaurus these days, do they? It's all, "Shantungosaurus this" and "Olorotitan that". Back in the 1950s, though, Corythosaurus was the talk of the town, and so it's only natural that Jean Zallinger illustrated it for the remarkably good In the Days of the Dinosaurs (do read Part 1 if you haven't already). Of course, it's messing about on the river.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Beasts of the Grand Staircase!

This Wednesday, October 11, is National Fossil Day in the US, during which science organizations around the country hold paleontology outreach events. The National Park Service and partner organizations are holding a major Fossil Day event on the National Mall in Washington, DC. To see what events are happening near you, see the list from Sarah Gibson at PLOS Paleo Community (parts one and two).

Just over a week ago, I was contacted by David Polly, president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, to design some Fossil Day outreach materials. The SVP wanted to commission a set of trading cards highlighting six amazing dinosaur discoveries at Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. I was thrilled to get the gig and pitched the idea of doing something colorful, graphic, and fun. Dr. Polly had a list of taxa in mind, so I started sketching. A few days later, the art was given the thumbs up and the cards went into production! This was one of the quickest project turnarounds I've ever worked on, and I'm totally pleased with the end result.

"Beasts of the Grand Staircase" trading cards, designed by David Orr of Blue Aster Studio for the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. Photo by David Polly.

This project was special for a few reasons. First of all, this was the first time I was commissioned by the SVP to create something, and that's something of a dream come true. Second, ceratopsids are a heck of a lot of fun to draw, and this set was half ceratopsid! Third, I was very happy to draw Utahceratops gettyi; many of you may already know that the species' namesake, Mike Getty, passed away tragically a few weeks ago. I never had the chance to meet him, but I've appreciated the fond tributes from folks in the paleontology community whose life he impacted. And finally, the protection of public lands is an issue close to my heart, and they are in peril. We need to raise up a grassroots effort to defend these precious places.

Thank you to Dr. Polly for bringing me aboard this outreach effort. Learn more information about the DC event on the SVP news page. The SVP is also distributing a flyer I designed featuring the card art for all to share. Have a great National Fossil Day, everyone!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Vintage Dinosaur Art: In the Days of the Dinosaurs - Part 1

Now here's a curious one - a book from 1959, written by the great Roy Chapman Andrews and illustrated by Jean Zallinger. Wait, you mean Rudolph, surely? Well, no; Rudolph Zallinger may be the man behind The Age of Reptiles mural in the Peabody museum, but his wife Jean Day Zallinger is a prolific illustrator, and it shouldn't really be too surprising that she should lend her hand to a book such as this. It's strange not seeing Rudolph's name in this saurian context, but Jean is more than capable of holding her own...even if The Age of Reptiles does heavily influence some of the art here, as we shall see.

This is another one sent to me by Charles Leon - thanks again Charles!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

This Mesozoic Month: September 2017

In the News

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology 2017 meeting was held in late August in Calgary. There have been a few posts from attendees, though not as many as I'd hoped. Check out recaps from Liz Martin-Silverstone and Albertonykus. Alex Hastings presented a poster on dinosaurs in comics and writes about his extensive research. Over at the RMDRC Paleo Lab blog, Anthony Maltese writes about the creation of the Protosphyraena skeletal mount he unveiled at SVP.

Californians can finally relax: they have an official state dinosaur. It's the hadrosaur Augustynolophus [insert hilarious vegetarian joke here]. Read more from Smithsonian and the LA Times.

It's the case of the upside-down ankylosaurs! New research studies the phenomenon of armored dinosaurs being discovered on their backs. Read more at Live Science.

Morturneria seymourensis, an aristonectine plesiosaur that swam the Antarctic seas of the Late Cretaceous, was first discovered more than 30 years ago, but new research has revealed it to be an oddball in the family: a filter feeder, with teeth that interlocked to trap and strain krill and other small food from the water. Read more from Sci-News and Earth Archives.

And while we're talking marine reptiles, meet the mighty Thaumatodracon. Adam S. Smith writes about the newly named rhoemaleosaurid at Plesiosauria.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

If you were a bit thrown by the term "allokotosauria" when Shringasaurus was revealed last month, have no fear. Zach Miller has a new post at Waxing Palaeontological about this clade's history and current roster of beasts.

At Earth magazine, Thea Boodhoo profiles paleontologist Dr. Lisa D. White and her efforts to give youths in underrepresented groups access to the geosciences.

How do paleontologists in the field decide how to conduct their search for fossils? How do they determine the significance of what they find? Adrian Currie writes about the secret epistemology of field work at Extinct.

Victoria Arbour visits the Prehistoric Park at the Calgary Zoo. And if you didn't read her latest Vintage Dinosaur Art post here, get on it! Oh, and ONE MORE THING, vote for Pseudoplocephalus!

At Antediluvian Salad, Duane Nash muses about groundcover in the Mesozoic, especially as depicted in paleoart, and winds up thinking a lot about biocrusts. Definitely worth a read if you're into palaeoart that delves into the more subtle details of an environment.

Public paleoart projects are always worth a look. The Everything Dinosaur blog features a new project to honor Gideon Mantell with a life-size sculpture of an iguanodontid in the town of his birth: Lewes, in East Sussex, England.

At ART Evolved, Herman reviews Naish and Barrett's Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved.

The Empty Wallets Club

Amargasaurus tote bag designed by Levi Hastings, image used here with his permission.

I've long been a fan of Levi Hasting's abstract dinosaur watercolors and screenprints, and have featured his work here often. His new Amargasaurus tote bag is splendid. Perfect for carrying around a collection of dino toys. Pick it up in his Etsy shop.

Dinosaur gathering in my living room. #nevergrowup

A post shared by TRX Dinosaurs (@trxdinosaurs) on

Have you seen the incredible models and puppets created by TRX Dinosaurs? Here's a pic from their Instagram feed, which also includes some fun videos. Head to the TRX Dinosaurs website, where you can order your own poseable, life-size sculpture of Velociraptor or Deinonychus, or order a custom puppet! They're pricey, but the attention to detail and fidelity to contemporary paleontological knowledge certainly make them worth every cent.

The LITC AV Club

Designer and illustrator Ian Stewart heroically animated the artwork of Ray Troll to make a music video for the Ratfish Wranglers' "Ages of Rock."

Read the excellent post on paleoart from the Royal Tyrrell Museum blog, featuring a look at the process by which the museum and Julius Csotonyi came to the final version of his Regaliceratops illustration. Here's a video to accompany the piece.

Hey. There's a video game called Anatomically Incorrect Dinosaurs. Sounds right up our alley, doesn't it? And doesn't this trailer make sense? Like, total sense?

Crowdfunding Spotlight

Last minute campaign alert! This one closes on September 30, so be quick about it. Especially if you're a fan of Victorian art and design giant William Morris (he of the Arts and Crafts movement fame). Especially if you're a fan of his famous "Strawberry Thief" pattern - because now, it's got dinosaurs in it. Pledge at Kickstarter for your pocket square, necktie, or scarf!

A Moment of Paleoart Zen

I'm in a sauropod mood and I just can't shake it, so this month let's bask in the glories of this Diplodocus piece by Stevie Moore. Available as a print from his on-line shop, too!

Diplodocus carnegii illustration be Stevie Moore, shared here with his permission.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Vintage Dinosaur Art: How Tough was a Tyrannosaurus?

The Q&A format is a very popular one for children's dinosaur books, and indeed I've covered a few during my invaluably spent time writing for LITC. However, this one's a little special, and that's because it was sent to me by long-time reader Herman Diaz via airmail, all the way from the US. Cheers, Herman! Dating from 1989, it's very typical of the era, and features quite a number of entertaining tropes...not least a probably-quite-explicable fixation on the titular Tyrant Reptile.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Paper Dinosaurs

Hello faithful LITC readers! I'm back from 5 weeks in the wilderness and SVP, and have a pretty cute piece of vintage dinosaur art to share with you. Today we're looking at Paper Dinosaurs: 20 Model Monsters to Cut and Fold, by David Hawcock and published in 1988 by Marshall Cavendish Books.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

This Mesozoic Month: August 2017

In the News

Meet Serikornis, a small troodontid whose feathers are utterly lacking in barbules. Read more at Theropoda and NatGeo. And check out the amazing Emily Willoughby illustration, featured at the end of this post as our Moment of Paleoart Zen.

Hot diggity, do I love weird Triassic stuff. Check out the twin-horned terror that is Shringasaurus! Read more at Everything Dinosaur, Letters from Gondwana, and NatGeo.

New research into the famous quad-flippered plesiosaurs looks at how they might have propelled themselves through the water. Coauthor Darren Naish writes all about it at TetZoo. And do check out the video about the research down in the LITC AV Club section of this post.

Patagotitan is the putative "largest dinosaur" now, finally getting published after years of notoriety and even display. And it's coming to Chicago's Field Museum, kicking Sue off of the perch she's occupied for two decades. Read more from Paleo-King, Ben Miller, and Ed Yong at the Atlantic.

Lemmysuchus obtusidens is a new teleosaurid on the scene, made to crush shells. And yes, it's named for Lemmy Koopa. Er, I mean Kilmeister. Read more from Sci News, the Telegraph, and WaPo.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

At Waxing Paleontological, Zach follows up last year's Hopeful Dinosaurs article in the wake of new research that puts Pisanosaurus in the silesaurid bucket.

Mark Witton writes an exhaustive post on the paleoart sin of shrinkwrapping.

Head over to the New York Times, where Asher Elbein has written a great piece on the ongoing saga of the tangled dromaeosaurs of The Utahraptor Project.

Los Angeles will be hosting next year's Flugsaurier conference, and Dave Hone has the details.

You probably like dinosaurs. Otherwise, why are you here? If you like the world-famous LEGO brand of construction bricks too, boy howdy do you want to see Gareth Monger's latest Pteroformer post.

Lisa Buckley's back with another post from the field, in which she discovers her first Cretaceous bird tracks.

Herman Diaz is on a quest to compile a list of every dinosaur natural history book, and you can add your own suggestions at ART Evolved.

Prehistoric Pulp has moved to a new location, so update those bookmarks. Check out the recent review of Michael Crichton's Dragon Teeth.

The Empty Wallets Club

Mary Sanche runs a great Redbubble shop called Thoughts Up North. If you love ceratopsians in brilliant hues, this will be right up your alley. I love her Regaliceratops. Such a frisky pose.

Hey, I got back into the dinosaur heraldry game a little while ago! Here's my Sauropoda family crest design, featuring a Brontosaurus rampant. I have some ideas for others but haven't had the time to really figure them out. But the 'pod lovers are covered. Available on tees, mugs, stickers, and more at my Redbubble Shop.

The LITC AV Club

Draw a coelocanth with Brian Engh!

Listen to Memo Kosemen and Joschua Knüppe talk paleoart!

Luke Muscutt talks about the awesome new plesiosaur locomotion research!

Crowdfunding Spotlight

We've obviously featured it on this blog in the past, but since Asher's article in the NYT has been published, I'll mention the Utahraptor Project again. Go to GoFundMe to contribute to this monumental effort.

A Moment of Paleoart Zen

It was an obvious pick, but I had to go with Emily Willoughby's stunning Serikornis illustration. The kind of paleoart you just lose yourself in.

Serikornis by Emily Willoughby, shared here with her permission.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Big Animals of Long Ago - The Dinosaurs

Remember being a child in the 1970s? I don't (on account of not yet existing), but having reviewed so many remarkably similar kids' dinosaur books of the era, I feel like I've been there. Tail dragging yet sprightly tyrannosaurs, chunky title fonts, sauropods taking to the land, vibrant yellow-green colour palettes, the oil crisis, flares, the birth of punk; yes, they were probably the days. Let us now introduce Big Animals of Long Ago - The Dinosaurs, yet another identikit children's dino book from 1979. But for one very important twist. (This is another one sent to me by Charles Leon, by the way - cheers fella!)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Dinosaurs of China in Nottingham: part 2 - Feathered Flyers

While the reconstructed skeletons of big scaly beasts dominate the main downstairs area of Dinosaurs of China, the real treasures are upstairs, where far more delicate, intricately preserved and altogether fluffy animals await. While some of our scientist readers will have seen these in person before, DoC is a unique opportunity for us mere laypeople to get up close to feathered beauties from China. And yes, many of them are originals, including Stripy Longtail here!

Notice the fish, bottom left.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dinosaurs of China in Nottingham: part 1 - Ground Shakers

Have you ever wandered among the imposing corridors and grand halls of an historical stately home and thought about how much they could be improved by the addition of dinosaur skeletons? Then boy, do I have an exhibition for you. But more importantly, it's a showcase of numerous impressive skeletal mounts of Chinese dinosaurs, many never seen before outside their native country, along with an array of breathtaking original specimens. Dinosaurs of China is a huge coup for an obscure museum, a wonderful achievement of international co-operation, and a unique opportunity for British dinosaur enthusiasts - and Natee and I were fortunate enough to tour with curator Adam Smith.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Review: Dinosaur Empire

Cover art for Abby Howard's 'Dinosaur Empire' book

The gradual shifting of popular visions of prehistoric life has been a theme of this blog almost since the start. Looking at how old, mid-century or earlier ideas stick around longer than scientific consensus would dictate is fun, but one thing that's been rewarding has been watching in real time as the world embraces modern paleontology's increasingly nuanced and diverse view of dinosaurs.

Another cobblestone in that road has been placed with Abby Howard's wonderful Dinosaur Empire, now available from Amulet Books. Told in comic form, Howard takes the reader on a thorough tour of the Mesozoic, as a paleo-geek named Ms. Lernin takes a child named Ronnie on a time-travel adventure via the wibbly-wobbly power of "science magic." Anyhow, the book is awesome, and you should buy it, and here are five reasons why.

It embraces current palaeontological knowledge in an approachable way.

It's undeniably fun to get together with fellow paleo-geeks and talk prehistory. But sometimes, many of us will readily admit, talking with folks with only a superficial grasp on ancient life can be taxing. Dinosaur Empire is perfectly aimed at helping everyone understand and appreciate the history of life on Earth, no matter how in the dark they are to start - or what old notions they're holding on to. Howard's art is bright and humorous, her animals stylized but recognizable. Mark Witton recently praised Johan Egerkrans for his balance of stylization and anatomical fidelity, and Howard deserves the same praise.

It's funny.

If you're into Howard's comics Junior Scientist Power Hour or The Last Halloween, you'll be happy to hear that Howard's sense of humor is deployed just as effectively here. Using the form to her advantage, animals get to have humorous little reactions to and interactions with their environment and other animals.

An interior page from Abby Howard's 'Dinosaur Empire,' featuring a collection of pterosaurs.
A page dedicated to pterosaurs from Abby Howard's Dinosaur Empire graphic novel. Image courtesy Abrams Books.

It's about more than T. rex, and goes well beyond dinosaurs.

Howard realizes what any of us who have done education with kids realize: they want to hear the biggest hits, and quick. Her character of Ronnie reminds me of many kids I've met - her first order of business is to get to Tyrannosaurus rex. But Dinosaur Empire begins in the Triassic, and readers are soon introduced to aetosaurs, placodonts, ichthyosaurs, thallatosaurs, pterosaurs, insects, and more. Smok wawelski gets a page to itself. Eocaecilia, Castorocauda, Fruitachampsa, Morganucodon, Anatosuchus, Ocepechelon... they're in here. There's a page geeking out about the wonderful and gruesome world of parasitic wasps - in fact, where some books might include stinkin' arthropods as an aside, Howard returns to them multiple times. I was delighted to see how deep Howard went with her cast of critters - and just for good measure, she includes a brief appendix highlighting a collection of animals she couldn't fit in to the main story! I'm writing this with a big silly grin on my face in a tastefully decorated, quiet coffee shop, and I don't care what the other patrons think.

It's a heck of a lot more than just a simple roster of animals.

It's clear that Howard wanted to not only feature the amazing creatures of the past but put them into their context in time and in their environments. IMHO, she totally succeeds, taking the time to explain some foundational concepts of anatomy, evolution, phylogeny, and geology. She talks about protofuzz, pycnofibers, feathers, scales.

An interior page of Abby Howard's 'Dinosaur Empire' featuring a collection of triassic animals.
A page from the Triassic section of Abby Howard's Dinosaur Empire graphic novel. Image courtesy Abrams Books.

Abby Howard's love of prehistoric life is obvious.

Howard's animals are depicted naturalistically. They're nesting, socializing, drinking, feeding, hunting. Shrink-wrapping is markedly absent. Integument is believable, never too over-the-top with color schemes but not avoiding colorful and gaudy display structures, either. It's obvious that Howard wasn't just ticking off a checklist to fit so many of these obscure taxa in the book. She just loves drawing them. And when Ronnie finally gets to see her T. rex, it's a beautiful moment that Howard allows to breathe.

I hope I've made my case. This book deserves to be part of any paleontology book collection. It's perfect for elementary schoolers, but older paleo-geeks will get plenty of joy out of it. Pick it up, and send abundant plaudits Howard's way!