Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Let's Continue to Read _The New Dinosaurs!_

As in Part One, this post will be illustrated with crappy photographs of the illustrations from the book. But it will also include some of the watercolor drawings I made as I was reading (as usual, click for big). Some of the more bizarre animals were too strange not to parody. Once again, we're going in the order you meet them in the book.


I am sure you remember the Lank. When I drew him all those months ago, I noted that he was the second most anatomically unlikely animal in the book - if I was remembering things right, as I hadn't read it in a while. Now that I have just read it, I can say with some confidence that the lank is the FOURTH most anatomically unlikely animal in the book.

"Let's Read _The New Dinosaurs_" - Wyrm

This guy right here is the most anatomically unlikely animal in the entire book. He's a Wyrm. He's an armless, tail-less, long-necked burrowing creature who for some reason has retained stumpy little baby legs. And he is descended from swift-running, long-legged, long-armed, long-tailed small theropods.

This thing only makes sense if there were no other more qualified long-bodied burrowing animals at all available in this world to fill the niche. (It'd still look awkward, but it would be slightly more believable.)

"Let's Read _The New Dinosaurs_" - Gestalt Queen

Next up is the Gestalt. It seems like every one of Dougal Dixon's speculative biology books has at least one vertebrate that has adopted a colony or hive-like lifestyle. Some, like the Gestalt, even go so far as to have one baby-making Queen (pictured) and dozens and dozens of workers. At least the Pachycephalosaur-descended Gestalt isn't as unappealing as the Hivers (ant-like humans) from the already very disturbing Man After Man.

Our next animal brings us to my unofficial Dougal Dixon Speculative Biology Book Drinking Game. Anytime you come upon the following adaptation in an animal, take a shot:

Honestly, this is particularly bad in The New Dinosaurs. Every other animal in the book is, like, 30-60% fat rolls.

(Illustration by Jeane Colville.) The above rolls of fat are from the Coneater, who is fairly typical in appearance for one of the "fatty fat fat" animals in the book. She's an ornithopod who wanders in vast herds through the coniferous forests eating pine cones, which is perfectly fine from a conceptual standpoint. But it's bizarre to see such a fat animal with such dainty lil' feet. Especially in the inset where she's reaching up to eat - while raising one leg and her tail in the air as if she wants to put as much weight on one foot as possible.

(Illustration by John Butler.) These are Crested Sprintosaurs. Plains-dwelling, stumpy-tailed, antelope-like hadrosaurs. And they win my No-Prize for possibly being the most unintentionally ugly creature design I have ever seen. I never liked the look of these creatures, even as a kid. It's the guy in the upper-left that really gets to me. The eyes. The mouth. The hair!

On top of that, they now remind me of somone else...

"Let's Read _The New Dinosaurs_" - Sprintosaurus


"Let's Read _The New Dinosaurs_" - Balaclava

This is getting to be a little longer than I expected. I'll stop arbitrarily at this fellow. He's a Balaclav, an ornithopod of the snowy mountains. And he is the third most anatomically unlikely animal in the book. He's got thick fur on his noticeably skinny legs and his tail - and no, I am not making that odd "forked" effect up. In the original illustration, he almost looks like a tripod. And, of course, he has rolls and rolls of fat protecting the rest of his body from the cold. This is another creature design that is downright ugly. Poor thing.


Zach said...

God yes, the rolls of fat. I really need to crack open my copy of "Man After Man" again. That book really is kinda f*cked up. Ironically, the most entertaining and "realistic" book in the triology (After Man) is the one I can't freaking find anymore. I think I've voiced my concerns about "The New Dinosaurs" before, so I won't go into it again, my opinion they all look like horrible mutant muppets.

Also, yeah, Dixon loves social insects. He also likes myrmecophageous animals (who eat the social insects) and saber-toothed animals.

Trish said...

It sucks that all Dixon's Speculative Biology books seem to be out of print in America (except The Future is Wild and... yeah. :/ )

You're right, I forgot to mention the Not-Anteaters and Not-Sabretooths (Sabreteeth?) The Not-Naked Mole Rats were always the first creatures I noticed in each book though; there's even a spider version in F.I.W.I will probably do a review of After Man at some point. Not for a while as I want to give it and this books some room.

But I don't think I could ever revisit Man After Man. I read that book for the first and only time as a rather sensitive ten-year-old. It was Trishie's First "Humans Are Bastards"-Themed Science Fiction Satire, and the damn book scarred me for life. <:(

Albertonykus said...

I heard about The New Dinosaurs long before I read it* from an issue of Ranger Rick. Looking back, it appears that Ranger Rick had decided to showcase all the freakiest and ugliest critters, since I clearly remember seeing the sprintosaur, balaclav, kloon, and wyrm in there. The cutlasstooth was there, too, perhaps luckily. And the rolls of fat are bothersomem, yes.

*I didn't even get around to reading the whole thing until last year!