Friday, April 22, 2011

Dinosaur Guts, Dinosaur Butts - Let's read the Eyewitness Visual Dictionary of Dinosaurs!

Eyewitness Visual Dictionary of Dinosaurs, Compsognathus model

Ah, Eyewitness Books. The science, nature, and history library that saved many a kid my age while writing reports for school. Their format has been much-imitated, even to the point that part of me could argue that, in many ways, Eyewitness ruined the world of nonfiction children's books. For ages and ages afterwards, the default "style" for such books was, "stark white background, photographs of objects related to the subject, and labels. Labels everywhere." You can see the roots of the "Whatever"-Ology books and their various and sundry rip-offs there.

Eyewitness' Dinosaur editions are perhaps the best-loved out of the whole series. They took the then-unusual approach of using models to depict the dinosaurs. All the models were made by John Holmes, Roby Braun, Graham High, and Jeremy Hunt. The photography was by Andy Crawford, and the drawings by John Temperton and Graham Rosewarne. The book was published in 1993 by Dorling Kindersley, Inc.

The dinosaur models were very up-to-date for their time, but maybe have not aged well. And, sadly, they are each attended by a swarm of labels.

Eyewitness Visual Dictionary of Dinosaurs, the insides of an Ornithomimid

And a few of them depict the dinosaurs from the inside-out. Lord knows why, especially since the form and function of internal anatomy isn't really the focus of the book and is never elaborated upon. And mind you, this was all done before we found Leonardo so a lot of what you see inside this Gallimimus is based on educated guessing.

Eyewitness Visual Dictionary of Dinosaurs, Corythosaurus model

Now, the Eyewitness approach is nifty but I do recall having a book by them specifically about hadrosaurs, and most of the "illustrations" were just this model photographed from different angles. Yeah.

Eyewitness Visual Dictionary of Dinosaurs, Deinocheirus arms

I am willing to admit that I may be a little obsessed with Deinocheirus' crazy-long arms...

Eyewitness Visual Dictionary of Dinosaurs, Baryonyx hand

And here's the hand of Baryonyx. You know, if it were out of context and I didn't know much about theropod anatomy, I might assume this was a maniraptor foot and large talon too. This explains some things.

Eyewitness Visual Dictionary of Dinosaurs, Dale Russel's infamous Troodon model

Speaking of maniraptors, here's a familiar face. 80's kids, how sick are you of this guy. (It's Dale Russel's rather infamous model of Troodon, for those who don't recognize it.)

Eyewitness Visual Dictionary of Dinosaurs, Oviraptor bust

And here is a very strange bust of an oviraptor. I'm gonna say it. I'm gonna say it and you can't stop me. Here we go.

Scaly raptors look stupid.

They do. Look at this thing and the Russel!Troodon and try to argue it. And keep this in mind for one of next week's books...

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Hey, it's Easter Weekend!



awkward (If you excuse me for a second, I may need to check and see if this is already under Poe's Law or not...)

Additionally, CHUD.com reviewed "The Land Before Time" as part of it's Childhood's End series (revisiting movies the writers watched as children but hadn't seen in over a decade). If nothing else, it finally explains the title.

Additionally additionally, IndieWire has a better still of the dinosaur who shows up in the "Tree of Life" poster. I may need to do a longer post about him later...

Additionally additionally additionally, I just got some more retro dinosaur books from the library, so Retro Paleoart "Month" may go on for a week or so into May. Which is good, as that will give me time to recover from Comicon. (Which is in just a week OMG!!!)

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Art of the Day!

I should probably save this for my review of "Pokemon: White", since it's one of the best things in the game (though this looked an awful lot better in my head):

4.2.11 Sketchbook Page

8 comments:

David Orr said...

I'm such a huge fan of this book, and still have my old copy. It was one of the first "serious" dinosaur books I bought after devouring Jurassic Park. I even love the Russell Troodon. It's probably the reason the little guy is still one of my favorite dinosaurs. I know it's wrong now, but something about that shiny skin did it for me. And those eyes, too. I think that was what really captured my imagination.

Trish said...

Oh yeah. As much grief as I give to Russel!Troodon (mostly because of the association with the Dinosauroid), it is a gorgeous model for it's time. Notice how he's got realistic taxidermy animal eyes, where it looks like the Eyewitness sculptors just stopped off for plastic teddy bear eyes for their models.

Albertonykus said...

I not only remember these books, but also the TV show based on them. I can still hum the theme song: http://www.televisiontunes.com/Eyewitness.html

I also remember when DK books were a main source of dino info for me, and I just kept seeing the same dinosaur models over and over. (In their newer books, they keep reusing their CGI images as well.) In addition to the hadrosaur book, I think they also had books on Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, and Barosaurus that were also "illustrated" using the "one model from different angles" technique.

JerkyD said...

"Ah, Eyewitness Books."

Old School!

"Speaking of maniraptors, here's a familiar face. 80's kids, how sick are you of this guy."

Russel's Troodon has persisted even into the 2000's, including 1 of my favorite modern dino books ( http://www.amazon.com/Natural-History-Museum-Book-Dinosaurs/dp/184442183X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303573868&sr=1-1 ). Fortunately, only its head is shown. Speaking of which, I've always had mixed feelings about said Troodon: On the 1 hand, I like its head (especially its "realistic taxidermy animal eyes"); On the other hand, I dislike its bloated body (definitely not the body of a small mammal hunter).

JerkyD said...

"I also remember when DK books were a main source of dino info for me, and I just kept seeing the same dinosaur models over and over."

That's what I was referring to in the 1st part of my previous comment.

"I should probably save this for my review of "Pokemon: White", since it's one of the best things in the game (though this looked an awful lot better in my head):"

Is it supposed to be a real raptor dino species or a made-up 1? Either way, I like it! There aren't enough pics of mantling raptor dinos IMO. Also, what's it eating?

Trish said...

^^ In the latest game, there is a Pokemon based of Rahonavis and another Pokemon who is essentially a self-aware bag of garbage. So when they fight...

JerkyD said...

^^ A bag of garbage? Seriously? Are they really that short on good ideas for new Pokemon?

Trish said...

^^ A bag of garbage, a Killer Snowflake, and (my favorite) a talking ice cream cone.

(But keep in mind that the first game had an angry Pokeball, a blob of toxic waste, and a half-dozen generic cute pink squishy things...)