Before I get into this, big shout-out to Glendon and the crew over at Symbiartic. Thanks for the kind words and promotion! Symbiartic in turn is really neat so far, and you should all have it in your blogroll/feed/whatnot.
Also, one of my favorite pieces for the card game PHYLO is featured in the special Natural History Museum of London deck! Thanks to everyone involved in the ongoing project. And readers, do download and print a copy of the starter deck (which itself includes my Starling and House Sparrow) for every pre-teen you know.
Way, way back in April, I found a book with illustrations that were beautiful (if frustrating.) I just received some more books by the same illustrator and they are all gorgeous, with lots of stuff to cover. So today, we are going to celebrate the paleoart found in the children's books of David Peters.
"But Trish!" Some of you shout, "Is this not the very same David Peters who has - how shall we put this gently- controversial ideas about biology in general and animal anatomy in specific?"
Well, yes it is that David Peters. He has indeed got some ideas about animal anatomy and biology that I would most generously describe as... different. Many of his skeletal reconstructions can be found at his website, and... well, here is an interpretation of one of them:
(I think my favorite part is that "Avatar" rat-tail thing.)
But we're going to ignore all of this for now. Because Peters has already been criticized enough for this and I want to talk about what's less known about David Peters: the fact that before he started... I will use the word "reinterpreting" pterosaur fossils, he was an excellent paleoartist. No, really! Look at this spread from 1991's From the Beginning, an ambitious history of mammal evolution from the beginning of the Universe to humans (top that, Dave Mamet) published by Morrow Junior Books:
Deft with both pen and ink and acrylics, Peters' animal drawings and paintings were lively and exhaustively researched. For their time, his books were easily among the best zoology books for children available.
This batch of paintings is from Supergiants! The book was written by Don Lessem and published by Little Brown and Co. in 1997. Meant as a companion piece to the aforementioned Raptors, Supergiants covers the largest of the sauropods.
It very definitely is a companion to Raptors; there's the anatomically accurate but annoyingly buck naked Utahraptor from the previous book.
Since this is a book focusing on the largest sauropods, it was nice to see some old friends I haven't seen mentioned very often. Supersaurus and Ultrasauros were both very popular in the dinosaur books of the '70s and '80s, both vying for the hotly contested title of biggest-ever land animal.
It appears as though two things have happened that keep Super and Ultra out of the books these days. Some sources say that they are more likely just really big individuals of sauropods we already are pretty familiar with. Maybe. But, more importantly, Argentinosaurus stole their thunder.
Strange Creatures, written in 1992 and published by Morrow Junior Books, is basically a collection of portraits of animals who need more love. Both living and extinct species are represented, every creature is either life-size or to scale with a human figure, and the book covers everything from Tullimonstrum to Bramatherium:
The book's emphasis is almost wholly on obscure extinct animals. I think I'll keep it as a welcome companion piece to the Macmillan Encyclopedia.
I like the look on the face of this girl hanging out with the amphibians. "Please don't leave me alone with the Eupelor!"
And Phorusrhacos is totally thinking, "Eff you, I'm a dinosaur!" Terror birds are awesome and have no damns to give. (But note the buck naked Oviraptor.)
And, uh, here are Peters' pterosaurs, circa 1992.
And here are more Peters' pterosaurs, circa 1989. These are from A Gallery of Dinosaurs, published by Alfred A. Knopf. They are a little overly bipedal, but nothing else looks particularly... different about them.
Although it was written and published several years before Strange Creatures, Gallery feels more like a companion and expansion of the later book. There is a wide variety of animals, many of which are rather obscure, but I'm just going to focus on the dinosaurs here. Here's a not-quite buck naked Oviraptor...
And a fully feathered (for 1989) Deinonychus! Remember, this was painted well before Raptors. Weird. Meanwhile, Segnosaurus is still on Team Prosauropod (Maybe) here.
And Baryonyx is still on Team Quadruped.
And finally, here is my favorite illustration in the book. That kid personifies the late 1980's. ALL of it.
ADDENDUM: An anonymous poster below directed my attention to a Dave Peters picture book you can go and read right now: Giants of the Land, Sea, and Air. It is available as a PDF file on his website. Though I can't really find anything funny to say about them, the illustrations are once again fantastic.
Links of Interest!
* - So... once again, a pretty neat analysis of a recent dinosaur discovery has been blown out of proportion by the mainstream press. Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs has the tale of Xiaotingia as well as a song I am astonished I'd never heard of until now.
* - And yet the Xiaotingia boner still isn't as facepalm-worthy as this Telegraph boner. Poor Darren Naish.
* - In a surprising number of these old dinosaur books, I've been noticing a weird quadrupedal theropod meme (see the Baryonx above for an example). Other Branch has a story about one possible origin.
* - Illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi has a sweet and touching tribute to 70's coloring books of all things. The Troubadour books really are beautiful. He also shows off some of his character sketches from a never-finished edition of A Princess of Mars.
* - /Film shared some of the art from Gallery 1988's Pee-Wee Herman tribute show.
* - Awkward Family Photos is having another Strangest Vacation Photos contest.
* - If you haven't seen David Wolter's gorgeous short "Eyrie", watch it right away. It's beautiful, and I can't even tell you how much I love that last shot.
* - We Love Fine may have come up with the greatest "LOL Random Mashup" themed shirt ever.
* - And now for something completely different, care of Everything is Terrible.
* - And now for something else completely different, care of LITC.
* - Agony and Ecstasy have a fine review of Ray Harryhausen's "The Valley of Gwangi". They've also got a Chronological Disney Canon project of their own! I'll have to read that on a rainy day. (EDIT: I am halfway through and it is fantastic -- except Tim's full-length, trivia-packed essays make me look like a slacker.)
* - A couple of fantastic fan-made sci-fi (or not) themed music videos for your enjoyment. The first two are God-damn beautiful (though the second is way too short) and the third *almost* makes me okay with Ke$ha.
* - And finally, here is Chris Sanders' "Big Bear Aircraft Company" story, which has been making the rounds recently and which needs to be read by any and all creative types and the people who (usually) manage them. Sanders talks a great deal more about it at Cartoon Brew.
Sketch of the Day!
Speaking of strange creatures, guess who finally finished her Carboniferous Gallery painting?
If just one other person laughs at this, it will be worth it.