Few things are as much fun as visiting a relatively remote branch of your city library that you have not visited since childhood, and finding out that they haven't done much "weeding" since you were last there:
Oh, I had the hardest time leaving some of these. (LOL at the book at the bottom.) I've noticed there are a few blogs and other websites that have written about vintage paleoart lately. Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs often has a post about vintage dinosaur art, and has a corresponding Flickr group. Tetrapod Zoology occasionally has a neat feature about this subject as well. I stumbled upon a real treasure trove here, so I am going to have to throw my hat into the ring. Don't know if September will end up being Hilariously Outdated Paleoart Month, but anyway...
We'll start with one of the Rourke Prehistoric Animal Books. They were a library of books published circa 1984 by Rourke Enterprises, Inc. in Vero Beach, Florida. Each one focused on a different species. Usually they told of a day in the animal's life, from that animal's point of view. They were a staple of every 80's library for a long time.
Here's the title page, listing all the books from this series (there were several series within the series). I picked Archaeopteryx (sic) because I figured it would have the most comedic potential. I love the irony of that HMNH/"Jurassic Park"-style Deinonychus running beneath our heroine... (Also notable: That ain't no Ankylosaurus.) I am also kind of in love with this picture from later in the book:
Yeah... not much I can add to this.Archeopteryx is depicted with pretty wonky hand and leg anatomy throughout the book, so get used to it. Also, she has that classic "lizardbird" head and face that has only fallen out of favor in paleoart very recently. And, of course, being the only animal in the world with feathers at the time, Archy has to be the only animal allowed to be colorful too.
Over at DeviantArt, Chasmosaur immediately dubbed my "too far in the opposite direction" feathered dinosaur in "PSA Addendum" a "Sparkleraptor". And I had a good laugh over that -- and then I looked at old illustrations of Archeopteryx and realized that this is not a new thing. Almost across the board all the "nekkid" dinosaurs are the lovely shades of Crap Brown, Diarrhea Green, Intestinal Distress Puce -- while Archeopteryx looks like she wandered off the set of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert". (By the way, if you do not know what a "sparkle-animal" is... you're probably better off.)
Remember how Dinosaurs Discovered included a weird stegosaurus with horizontal plates along with more traditional-looking stegosaurs? This book has it's cake and eats it in a similar way. Here's where it stands on the infamous "Ground Up"/"Trees Down" issue:
Not much I can add to this either. There's a brief section in the back of the book explaining some of the stuff in the main part, and they state that they wanted to show both theories. (For those of you who aren't Ornithologists, there is a lot of wank over whether the first birds started flying by wing-assisted leaping from the ground, or by aiming for the ground and missing. This is all operating under the assumption that "probably a combination of both, it depends on the particular early bird" is not an option.)
The authors also state with assertion that Archy "is really a reptile that is halfway through evolving into a bird".
(For the non-Ornithologists, I can think of at least three or four things wrong with that old chestnut that pops up in so many dinosaur books at the time. For one thing, evolution does not work like in "Pokemon". For another, if Archeopteryx is a reptile, you and I might as well be classified as reptiles. And so on...)
The book ends with Archeopteryx actually looking more like a viable animal in her own right rather than a horrible freakish lizard-thing trapped between evolutionary levels. And she gets the company of another Kiss-guanodon too!
Art of the Day! Here are some reptiles that have achieved their final evolutionary forms! (Yup. that's another thing I couldn't type without cringing.)