Thursday, August 18, 2011

Will We Ever Stop Reading _The Humongous Book of Dinosaurs_?

Today, we'll look at how the many and varied artists of the Humongous Book of Dinosaurs illustrated some of our favorite dinosaurs. Every review of an old dinosaur book usually ends up here and usually ends up being a parade of naked maniraptors. We'll get to those next week (seriously). Instead, for a change of pace, lets start with a strange Anatosaurus:



This is so weird. I don't even know if the artist was clear on what a hadrosaur even is. Except the Ouranosaurus (technically an Iguanodon, but still) to the left of this thing is pretty good.



It's hard to tell is the almost-single row of plates on this Stegosaurus is because (a) of good old text/illustration dissonance, (b) the illustrator found painting the stegosaurus plates way too hard and kind of fudged it, or (c) the really, really wonky perspective. (Or (d), Zach's theory in the comments.)



HMoD is pretty vehement that pterosaurs are not dinosaurs (because, remember, "dinosaurs can't fly". That's another issue for next week.) However, they do discuss them and include some atypically excellent for HBoD paintings. Two of them are worth highlighting here for being a bit odd in hindsight.

Above, we have a pterosaur mother feeding her baby. Now, Mrs. T. is the only fossil that gives us any real insight into pterosaur parenting, if I am not mistaken, and it appears as though parental care wasn't a big thing for pteros.


This painting might just be outdated. This next one is just weird:



You don't see hanging, batlike pterosaurs often nowadays but this used to be a pretty common paleoart meme. It was especially common back when the description of pterosaurs in books focused on a seemingly endless list of what the poor creatures
*couldn't* do: They couldn't really fly, they couldn't flap their wings, they couldn't stand up because their ankles were so weak (meaning they had to hang around as shown by their... weak ankles), they couldn't even move on the ground, and they basically had to hang around in high places waiting for a favorable wind to get anywhere. In short, up until relatively recently, pterosaurs came across as nature's cruelest mistake.



Back to the dinosaurs. Here's another strange-looking hadrosaur who, it just so happens, really looks like she and her babies walked right off the cover of the well-loved January 1993 issue of
National Geographic.



Speaking of crested hadrosaurs, here's the HBoD bending over backwards in an attempt to explain the two very different-looking Parasaurolophi by two very different the SAME atypically excellent for HBoD artist, trying out two different color schemes in two different illustrations, from two different time periods (whew). Since they both have long crests, naturally the more colorful one is the female. Yup.



Finally, one of my favorite strange old theories/paleomemes: little ornithopods lived in trees! I'm still not quite sure what the reasoning behind this was aside from the fact that my books as a child always compared Hypsilophodon and company to Tree Kangaroos, but note that it appears in the original printed-page
Jurassic Park.

Speaking of, next week, two -yes, two- posts full of strange maniraptors! And I think we just might run into an old friend...

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Hey, it's time for another episode of "Living With Dinosaurs" (see the last post)! In the first episode, we met Dom, and learned that he suffers from very severe asthma, is constantly tormented by his bullying cousin and condescending uncle, and he hates fish because... I don't even know. We learn that he refers to his unborn baby sibling as "The Bulge" because of course he does (though to be fair, so does the rest of his family), and that he'd both cause his mother to miscarry and also impulsively obliterate the entire food chain of the planet out of spite ("ALL fish!") if he ever found a Death Note. But surely those of you who came in late correctly assumed all of this from the title "Living With Dinosaurs".

Truly this is the second most morose and upsetting film involving Jim Henson creatures. Let's see what horrors await our sensitive inner children in today's installment!



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Sketch of the Day!

More feathers and birds!

7.21.11 - Feathers and finches and hummers

7 comments:

raptor_044 said...

"Speaking of crested hadrosaurs, here's the HBoD bending over backwards in an attempt to explain the two very different-looking Parasaurolophi by two very different (but again, unusually excellent) artists."

Actually, they're both Sibbick's, but from 2 different times.

More colorful: http://dinobase.gly.bris.ac.uk/frontend/dinobase_pageViewImage.php?id=72

Less colorful (See the bottom center part of the poster; You can also see last week's Ornitholestes in the right center part of the poster): http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Dinosaurs-Posters_i314243_.htm

"I'm still not quite sure what the reasoning behind this was aside from the fact that my books as a child always compared Hypsilophodon and company to Tree Kangaroos, but note that it appears in the original printed-page Jurassic Park."

Quoting Gardom & Milner ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/184442183X?tag=533643275-20 ): "Like the sauropods, Hypsilophodon's way of moving was considerably misunderstood when it was first discovered. Scientists assumed that the big toe on its foot actually faced the opposite way from the other toes, rather like a bird's. Hypsilophodon, they said, must have been a tree dweller, perching in the branches and using its tail to balance, just as the Australian tree kangaroo does. In fact, as we now know, Hypsilophodon shows how the fully improved stance enabled quite small, unarmoured dinosaurs to thrive by developing high levels of speed and manoeuvrability to escape their enemies."

raptor_044 said...

In my previous comment, I said "last week's", but I meant "your last post's". Silly me.

Zach said...

Those pterosaurs are pulled straight from Wellnhofer's excellent "Prehistoric Flying Reptiles" and they are indeed beautiful. But yes, very outdated.

I think that might be the worst interpretation of stegosaur plates EVER DEVISED. They seem to be in a staggered double-row toward the front, then the artist just said "this is hard" and gave up at the pelvis.

Warren JB said...

I pointed out Neil Lloyd's work in the second post. Now you've seen Tony Gibbons' (anatosaur and stegosaur) and Deborah Mansfield's (saurolophus) too. :) Like I've said once or twice, even as a snot-nosed punk I wondered why those two were allowed to pick up a brush.

And I'll back up Raptor_044. The parasaurs (and pterosaurs) are John Sibbick's; all licensed to the magazine. Some of his art is badly outdated and I've seen palaeoart discussions where he's been snubbed a bit, but compared to most of the rest of the stuff in the magazine it's a glorious, shining treasure. Have a look at more:
http://www.johnsibbick.com/

One of the high points of my year was finally seeing 'Allosaurus attacking juvenile Diplodocus' in person, in April. One of my favourite pieces of paloaeoart for years, that. And look not unkindly upon him for naked '90's maniraptors.

You can look unkindly upon him for 'fuzzy raptor', though...

Albertonykus said...

Ah, Tony Gibbons. I recognize his style from a set of dinosaur playing cards I once had (as well as a few children's books I've seen at the library; Google "Tony Gibbons dinosaurs" and check out the images), but I've never known his name until now.

Warren JB said...

Y'know those clunky, amateurish and innacurate computer-generated dinosaurs, with scale textures awkwardly stretched over their limbs? The ones that are a staple of kids' books these days, that Darren Naish complains about? The more I look, the more I realise Tony Gibbons pioneered that look, without computer software. AFAIK.

Before the next post, and before I get carried away with nostalgia again: lovely sketches. What are the yellow ones? The overall shape and behaviour reminds me of european goldfinches.

... and after a quick google image search, I think 'goldfinch' was a good guess. :)

(I'd comment on the second part of Living With Dinosaurs; but after watching the first part, I'd prefer to imagine it didn't exist, if that's okay.)

Trish said...

^^ Warren, they are indeed American Goldfinches, probably the only avian species off the top of my head that is actually a relative of it's European bird namesake.