Tuesday, May 8, 2012
"What in the...?" Let's read _If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today_!
Full confession: our dear friends at Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs already covered this book, but I happened to order my copy around the same time Marc did and since there is WAY more than enough WTF-ery in the book to go around, he said it was okay. (I will try to come up with different funny things to say about the illustrations we both picked to show.)
The book we shall be exploring this week is If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today, written by our old buddy Dougal Dixon with consulting from Professor Mike Benton of the University of Bristol. Illustrations by Simon Mendes, Andrew Kerr, Roger Harris, Leonello Calvetti, Franco Tempesta, Peter Scott, Frank DeNota, and... Luis Rey?!? Why do I feel as though this may be an old shame for him? Even though -and this is the strangest thing- it isn't all that old; the book was first published in America in 2007 by Running Press Book Publishers. That's... surprising, given what we're going to see.
So. This book. To borrow a phrase, it sure is a book. It has pages that are stitched together, and those pages have words and pictures on them.
Okay, seriously. This is a book about how well animals from the Mesozoic era would be able to deal with modern times... hypothetically. See, there are moments where the goofy-as-hell premise is taken seriously and there are many MANY more moments when it isn't. This creates its fair share of mood whiplash. There are also some deeply bizarre moments that have nothing to do with the premise. Basically, every two-page spread in this book has at least one thing about it that will make you say, "Wait, what?!?" I wouldn't dare spoil the fun by posting every single illustration here, since the book is available for dirt-cheap on Amazon. It's worth it to have a copy of your own to gawk incredulously at.
The fun begins right on the Table of Contents:
So far this is the most recent book I have seen that associates Archaeopteryx with pterosaurs instead of other dinosaurs. (I didn't mention it at the time, but Dinosaurs Discovered does the same thing. It was slightly more excusable since that book is quite old.) The weird thing is, now Microraptor is brought into the -ugh- "Flying Reptile" fold too. Don't worry, there will be more brain-farts involving winged theropods later on.
For now, enjoy this herd of elephants chilling with a Sauroposeidon who suffers from a severe case of Shrinkwrap Face. Behold!
"Dear sweet Littlefoot... Do you know the way to the Uncanny Valley?"
Now, to be fair, it's neat to see the scale of certain prehistoric animals next to modern animals. And this image is appropriately epic. If you ignore the eye-bleedingly awful CGI and Photoshoppery.
This might just be the nadir of "Pachycephalosaurs were just the dinosaur equivalent of bighorn sheep" paleoart meme.
After we get to see a Styracosaurus facing down a White Rhino, we get to see the first of two very odd-looking Triceratops. We'll get to the other one in a little bit.
Now this illustration is our first focus on the probably unintentional underlying theme of the book: modern day mammals are just better at everything. We're told that poor Plateosaurus (whose neck looks painful) wouldn't stand a chance against a tiger. Well, no kidding! It'd be no more fair to drop a tiger in the middle of the late Triassic would it? I'm giving the stupid premise of this book way too much thought, aren't I?
Oh God oh GOD, bad "Dinosaur" flashbacks!!!
At some point we're told that herbivorous dinosaurs would have a hard time of it in modern times since the foods they are used to are relatively rare and take many years to mature. Even so, humans would domesticate them and not cows and pigs and whatnot. This is a book that exists outside the land of logic.
Man, another sauropod suffering from the unspeakable heartbreak of Shrinkwrap Face.
Said Diplodocus (Seismosaurus in the book) is part of a herd that has wandered into a busy commercial airport runway, like you do when you are a very big animal. "They would not be disturbed by the movement of taxing aircraft," Dixon assures us, "as to them they would be just like other big sauropods to which they are accustomed." Yes, because airplanes are what sauropods look like.
I have nothing to add to this. Anyway, time for one of the most ridiculous pictures in the book before we pause for now:
90's as f***!!!
Sketch of the Day