Friday, April 15, 2011

We Just Keep Reading _The Macmillan Illustrated Encyclopedia of DINOSAURS and Prehistoric Animals_!

And today, finally, 80's dinosaur goodness from that awkward era of paleoart immediately following the publication of Dinosaur Heresies. And I didn't realize this until just now, but knowing that Dougal Dixon had his hands in this book helps to explain certain... oddities in The New Dinosaurs. To wit, classification:


Let's zoom in a little:


Note that the little Theropods don't even appear to be related to the big Theropods at all (at least the arrow that leads "to Birds" is very definitely emerging out of those little theropods). Look close and you'll also see what can only be described as a "retro" Iguanadon and a couple of sauropods in the classic space-saving "neck curled back over body, tail curled forward beside body" pose (can anyone from SV-POW who may happen to read this let me know if that is even anatomically possible?)


Before the dinosaur section really gets rolling, we get these two skeletal drawings to explain Ornithischians and Saurischians. Oh gosh, those tails...


So here's our first group of, er, "Small Carnivorous Dinosaurs". Elaphrosaurus was thought to be some kind of early Ornithomimid back then.

And then, things get weird:


80's Maniraptors! I'm gonna say it. I'm gonna say it. Naked maniraptors look stupid. And note the improbably skinny little kangaroo hands on Deinonychus.

And WTF is Baryonyx doing there? Why is he on all fours? Man, no wonder people were surprisingly likely to confuse spinosaurs and pelycosaurs back then.



Except here's Spinosaurus, and he is apparently a close relative of Acrocanthosaurus. Because they both have big spines, you see. Also, it looks like they are both Tyrannosaurs, because they are large.



Here's another big, burly Dilophosaurus, in among his fellow large Carnosaurs (including a
really Kaiju-esque Ceratosaurus). Anyone know what the deal is with these burly Dilophosaurs?


A very 80's Allosaurus. Very, very different from what we're used to now, but every big theropod in this book looks essentially like this; no cool horn bosses or feather spikes or bright colors or anything.

That's not to say the whole dinosaur chapter is a gauntlet of Real is Brown. Now, normally the feathered maniraptors would be the only animals to be colorful. But since Birds is Birds, there's no potential for Sparkleraptor sightings.

Instead, we get Sparkleornithopods:



So pretty! I like the tie-dye patterns on the hadrosaurs. Also note that little "insert back of horn here" notch on Parasaurolophus.


There's nothing half as exciting as that in the rest of the chapter. This Triceratops looks a little odd to my eyes. Like a *just* borderline McLoughlin-ceratops.


You can almost hear her crying, "Oh for goodness sake, the readers know that!"

So basically,
The Macmillan Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals is a good book for the time it was written. Oddly, the Encyclopedia was published again in 1999 under the title The Simon and Schuster Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Creatures. And this new book contained several new illustrations... but only for newly included animals. Everyone got the same illustrations as in the older book and mostly the same text (Baryonyx is even still a "raptor"). Kind of a cheap move for a book that deserves a fully revised and updated edition.


Important news:

It begins...

It's so... beautiful...

And also...



It's up. Got me a Rattled Poochyena already.

(Though to be honest, I am far, far more hooked on the Global Trade Negotiation feature. Collected all three Starters from each gen in a matter of hours!)


Art of the Day!

I made my own Sparkleornithopod!

3.29.11 Sketchbook Page


Vrahno said...

Ah, those images. Though surely irrelevant and unremarkable to most paleo-fans, these were a major influence for me and for the way I perceived dinosaurs before the feather craze kicked in.

That picture of Acrocanthosaurus made me greatly like the animal before it was hip to do so, and that red-green Echinodon has also become something of an Ensemble Darkhorse for me. And I can hardly believe I've almost forgotten about that jaguar-spotted Coelurus, but now I remember finding it nice-looking back then.

Albertonykus said...

The strong forelimbs of Baryonyx were initially interpreted as being good for walking on, but being thrown in the "raptor" group... what.

The only explanation of the burly Dilophosaurus I have is the same as you suggested in an earlier post; dilophosaurids were ceratosaurs at the time, and ceratosaurs were big and burly.

Matt Martyniuk said...

It's probably because when Baryonyx was first found, it suffered from Megaraptor syndrome and was considered a dromaeosaur for a short time prior to publication (due to no internet I guess this doesn't seem to be a widespread meme today). Why the corrected version is still included with them, I suppose it's because there was no place else to put it. Baryonyx wasn't really recognized as a close relative of Spinosaurus until at least 1989 as far as I can tell.

Also, in his description of Archaeornithoides Wellnhofer considered spinosaurids to be maniraptorans closely related to troodonts... but that was in 1992.

Trish said...

^^ Yeah, I figured it was probably a case of, "Well, they both have large talons so they MUST be related!" After all, this is the same mind-set that grouped together all large theropods and all small theropods.

JerkyD said...

"And I didn't realize this until just now, but knowing that Dougal Dixon had his hands in this book helps to explain certain... oddities in The New Dinosaurs."

That's why 1 of my rules for getting casual reading dino books is that they mustn't be "authored/edited/helped/illustrated by Dixon/Benton" (Benton b/c he's helped Dixon w/more books than any other paleontologist & so should share the blame).

"I made my own Sparkleornithopod!"

Why's it so sad?

Trish said...

^^ "Why's it so sad."

Acid reflux. <:(

(No seriously. He was going to be part of a comic but the idea kind of fizzled on paper.)