Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Let's Read _Dinosaurs in Your Backyard_

_Dinosaurs in Your Backyard_ front cover

Back to the lecture at hand. I had another very lucrative day finding old dinosaur books at the library. This one's Dinosaurs in Your Backyard, written and illustrated by William Mannetti in 1982, published by Atheneum. The front cover is what made me bring this home from the library. I love the incredibly derpy-looking Tyrannosaurus. Also, more proof that Archeopteryx was the original "Sparkleraptor". The illustrations are kind of odd, but some of the ideas he presents were well ahead of their time. He comes right out the gate saying birds are dinosaurs, for example. Note the Funny Aneurysm here (I apologize for the wonky edits in the text scans):

Dinosaurs in Your Backyard

_Dinosaurs in Your Backyard_ back cover

So yeah, duh, there were dinosaurs in your backyard. It's almost time to start placating them with food again, come to mention it.

_Dinosaurs in Your Backyard_ title page

Now, most of Mannetti's dinosaurs tend to be oddly proportioned. His Tyrannosaurs don't look any better than the one on the cover, and his sauropods all look very strange. The animal in the picture above is meant to be Thecodontosaurus, which, it turns out, looks almost nothing like this. 

And which is also, as a quick check of Wikipedia reveals, now named "Pantydraco".

Pantydraco.

9.30.10 Sketchbook Page

On the List of Unfair Animal Names, I'm going to put Pantydraco up there with Woodcock and Bushtit.

Speaking of the unfair things humans do to our animal friends, here is a gem from page 99:

Dinosaurs in Your Backyard


Well, you hear that dolphins, corvids, parrots, squids, ect? If you want our respect, you'd better start writing books and/or building machines. And they better be great machines. And start thinking deep thoughts, whatever that means. Maybe you should think about inventing money and jobs and other unnatural things to worry about while you're at it. And then we will treat you as equals. Maybe. We will at least think about it.

The madness continues. One reason why I am very happy to have found this book is that it finally provides solid proof of some very strange old dinosaur theories. They are admittedly pretty tame compared to some of the other theories we have seen, but it's still nice to have proof of what we were convinced those "puny" little T.rex arms were for:

_Dinosaurs in Your Backyard_ page 76

Yep, that's it. (Where are his feet in the first drawing?)
I was also very happy to see this theory illustrated, and it's almost as strange as McLoughlin's Buttheadceratops:

_Dinosaurs in Your Backyard_ page 51

This book is a goldmine for Weird Old Theories I Am Glad I Didn't Hallucinate. More information about this particularly odd reconstruction of Brachiosaurus can be found at good old Tetrapod Zoology (go buy Darren Nash's book while you're there). It's also mentioned in Dr. Bakker's Dinosaur Heresies and illustrated in The New Dinosaurs.

And now, for my favorite-ever Weird Old Theory I Am Glad I Didn't Hallucinate. It really boggles my mind that anyone, at any point in history, could have ever taken it seriously:

Dinosaurs in Your Backyard

I apologize for the text cut off here. I like how Mannetti is swift to call this theory a load of baloney. Finally, here is some proof that, at one point in the history of paleontology, there was an accepted theory that mammals caused the dinosaur extinction by eating all the dinosaur eggs.
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Take a minute. Let it sink in.
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Yes, essentially this old theory holds that WE did it! WE killed the Dinosaurs. (And of course, by "we", I mean mammals; the vaguely anthropocentric nature of this theory shows some brass balls.) We ate all the dinosaur eggs in the world. At the same time. And we didn't eat any eggs from crocodilians or testudines or certain kinds of birds. Or, for that matter, the eggs of other mammals. But apparently we ate all the pterosaur and plesiosaur eggs too (but note the comments, where Albertonychus has helpfully noted something that makes this theory even more disturbing: plesiosaurs probably didn't lay eggs). And then, I guess, we stopped. And we never again started eating all the eggs in the world of a certain kind of animal.
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Ba-hahahaha! Oh, WOW!

I can't top that. So I will leave you with this drawing of a pair of Pteronodons with wings that have heard of these things called "anatomy" and "physics" and want nothing to do with them. (OK, really I am glad I am not the only person who gets hopelessly confused when drawing folded pterosaur wings. Poor pterosaurs; there are no animals around now that we can really compare them to and model our drawings after.)

_Dinosaurs in Your Backyard_ page 83

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Pink Dinosaur of the day!
Pink Dinosaur Sketchbook 10.5.10

Based off one of the aforementioned oddly-proportioned brachiosaurs.
Next up, we pause on the retro paleoart for some shameless self-indulgence.

1 comment:

Albertonykus said...

Pretty ahead of its time, this. Although the animal intelligence bit is really weird.

Love your analysis of the egg-eating mammal hypothesis. I might add that plesiosaurs appear to have been livebearers, so our ancestors must've decided to go for a swim and ate all those unborn embryos of plesiosaurs and mosasaurs. And ammonite spawn. And a whole lot of chalk-making algae.