Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Maybe Greg Paul Has a Point? - Let's Read "A Field Guide to Dinosaurs" from 1983!
Once again, I visited the local library. Once again, I came back home with some dinosaur books from the awkward age of paleontology maybe right before the dinosaur Renaissance was picking up speed.
Therefore, I declare April to be 80's (and some 90's) Paleoart Month! Each week, two posts will focus on one or more dinosaur books (or perhaps other things...) from this era, and the third will focus on something totally different having nothing to do with dinosaurs at all (ie, Monday's Disney short post; start taking bets on whether we'll see our first gardening post of the year this month). Because -can you believe it- not everyone is interested in old dinosaur art! Some people don't even care about dinosaurs at all! Can you imagine!
This week's book is a seminal work called A Field Guide to Dinosaurs: The First Complete Guide to Every Dinosaur Now Known. It's copyright 1983 by Diagram Visual Information, Ltd. and written by David Lambert. The book is illustrated by (hang on to your hats) Joe Robinson, Grahame Rosewarne, Sean Gilbert, Ashley Haddock, Brian Hewson, Richard Hummerstone, Janos Marffy, Eitetsu Nozawa, Max Rutherford, and Jerry Watkiss. There is, sadly, no indication whatsoever as to what artist drew what illustration. All the illustrations are pretty generic anyway, but there are some interesting sights to see indeed.
Please note that, as with many books you'll see this month, this is a very, very old library book that looked like it had been through a lot. I didn't want to risk "killing" it in my scanner so I relied on my camera instead. I apologize if some of the images are blurry. They're all at Flickr (contributed to the wonderful Vintage Dinosaur Art pool of course) so you can click them for larger versions.
I'm including the Table of Contents because they can stand as proof of a very weird old paleontological trend. You might remember back in my revisiting of Dougal Dixon's The New Dinosaurs, that it was pretty much taken as a given that all large theropods were thought to be related and all small theropods were thought to be related. But not to each-other, I mean; they were thought to be two completely separate groups of animals. (Imagine if house cats and foxes were considered to be closer relatives of each-other than to lions and wolves.) Now you see this strange trend in action. Also note that Herrerasaurus is classified as a Prosauropod?!
One of the "highlights" of this book is that you can make a drinking game out of every drawing that appears to have been traced off a more famous piece of paleoart. Yeah... say what you will about Greg Paul's recent tantrums, but when you look at art like this, you see the man has a point. This is the single most obvious rip-off. Than again, Charles R. Knight gets stolen from all the time.
John C. McLoughlin... not so much. It is kind of funny how his very weird, fringe-ish theory about Triceratops is even acknowledged though. And if I may tangent into speaking of weird theories...
I don't think this image of Stenonychosaurus (now known as Troodon, though friends call him Mr. Conductor XD ) is a rip off any particular piece, but only because this is basically the default 80s!Troodontid illustration.
But wait, what's that in the corner? Is that... Oh God dammit. Oh no...
Why? What the eff is this even doing in here? Stupid goddamn anthropocentric alien-thing, what the hell?
OK, seriously. It's surprising how often you see the Dinosauroid, Dale Russel's stupid stupid "thought experiment", appearing in otherwise fairly serious (if wildly outdated) 80's dinosaur books. Imagine seeing a random and not-elaborated-upon-at-all line drawing of an imagined steampunk airship (with maybe a tiny line about "this is what air travel COULD have been like") in an otherwise fairly serious guide to the history of flying vehicles and you have an idea of how jarring this is.
Dang, I need a drink... oh, hey! It's our old buddy Syntarsus! Oh, it's wonderful to see you again, ol' pal ol' friend ol' buddy ol' person we are on a first-name basis with! For the curious, the text simply says something about how some scientists think it had "feathery scales". Yeah. Also, they actually say that their drawing is "after Bakker". Huh.
This is getting a little lengthy, so I'll end this post with a Protoceratops that looks distinctively William Stout-ish...
And your favorite and mine, the amazing Kiss-guanodon! We'll continue exploring the Field Guide on Friday. If you can't stand the wait, hit the "Hilariously Outdated Paleoart" tag below. Additionally, and by a happy coincidence, Dinosaur Tracking has a series of posts on dinosaur comics from around this same time, and Art by Angie praises the beauty of Hadrosaurs.
Of course, if you're reading this since both posts have published, you can go on to part two right now.
Sketch of the Day!
Initial sketch for... a thing.