Monday, September 20, 2010

Let's read MORE Old Dinosaur Books!

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 Don't know if September will end up being Hilariously Outdated Paleoart Month, but anyway...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:

Rourke Prehistoric Animal Books: Archaeopteryx

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:

Rourke Prehistoric Animal Books: Archaeopteryx

Rourke Prehistoric Animal Books: Archaeopteryx

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".

I... I...

(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...)

Rourke Prehistoric Animal Books: Archaeopteryx

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.)

8.28.10 Sketchbook page


Albertonykus said...

"Final evolutionary level", haha. Good point about feathered dinos constantly being portrayed as sparkly even from only-Archie-is-allowed-to-have-feathers times.

cultistofvertigo said...

Typically, chupacabra-dinos make me physically ill, but I had a great laugh at the picture of arch fighting over a corpse with that... orange thing. Probably one of Dinosaur Satan's friends.

But what's this about "sparkle raptors," whatever that means? When was the last time you heard about a dinosaur being conservative in any way? Parabuteo flies, and pack hunts. Balaur has four killing claws. Pavo IS this trope.

Trish said...

^ Point taken, Cultist. But what I mean by that is the strange tendency for old paleoart to have Archy be the *only* colorful animal in an otherwise dull, "Real Is Brown", poop-colored ecosystem that's otherwise populated by equally dull animals. Fortunately, modern paleoart tends to avoid this.

JerkyD said...

"(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.)"

Out of curiosity, is it safe to assume that you're already familiar w/WAIR & CFD? Just wondering.

In reference to the "HMNH/"Jurassic Park"-style Deinonychus", do you call it that b/c the HMNH Deinonychus still has a forward-pointing pubis?

In reference to the "Kiss-guanodon", do you call it that b/c it has lips?

Trish said...

^^ OK, let's see here. I'll work backwards.

The Kiss-Guanodon, or rather K.I.S.S.-guanodon is an older reconstruction of Iguanodon with a long, long tongue like a giraffe or, say, Gene Simmons. I started calling them that when I reviewed _Dinosaurs Discovered_.

The HMNH/Jurassic Park Deinonychus is, well, a maniraptor that looks *just* like the Raptors in "Jurassic Park", which in turn are based on the very nice but in many ways anatomically wrong mount in the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Harvard gives it's Deinonychus skinny little kangaroo hands and a big giant head. I don't remember if it even has a hip bone, but that's a common mistake anyway.

WAIR and CFD - in short, yes I have heard of them.

I have a feeling you're doing an archive binge on my dinosaur posts, right? It stinks that the default formatting of a blog makes you read things out of order. :(

JerkyD said...

^^ In reference to the "K.I.S.S.-guanodon", that's even better than what I originally thought it meant.

In reference to the HMNH Deinonychus, I almost forgot about its pronated hands. You're right about it missing its hip bone (I was thinking of the outline of its hip bone & other missing parts drawn behind it).

Sorry about the archive binge. It started when I clicked on the McLoughlin link & noticed a bunch of other especially interesting posts nearby. Hope it isn't too distracting.

Trish said...

Nobody ever has to apologize for reading everything on my blog. It's good for my ego. :D

JerkyD said...

^^ "It's good for my ego. :D"

In that case, hooray!

BTW, who authored "The Great Book of Dinosaurs"? Also, I think I missed the joke involving the Archaeopteryx/Compsognathus pic.

1 more thing: Are you interested in owning all the books in said series? If so, then you can get them in their combined forms in the the following links (just in case you didn't already know).

Trish said...

I didn't end up checking out the Great Book, so I sadly cannot say who wrote it. As it happens, I knew a teacher who had every copy of those books you linked to but she tossed them, and I didn't want to take them.