Thursday, November 16, 2017

Terrible Lizards - a bestiary

Believe it or not, I'm not familiar at all with Dungeons & Dragons. Of course I know what it is, and that there's a Dungeon Master overseeing things and lots of high fantasy and dice and such, but not much more than that. It's just not something that I've really been exposed to (if you'll forgive the use of a word that makes it sound slightly unseemly). So, I was intrigued when we were contacted by Ralph Stickley, who's produced a bestiary entitled Terrible Lizards, with the laudable aim of bringing up-to-date dinosaurs to the game.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Recent Paleoillustration from David

I try not to use LITC as a way to just share a ton of my work, but I'm in the mood to at the moment, so you'll just have to bear with me. This spring I did a couple of feathered theropods, and looking back at them I'm still rather pleased with the style. I find that I'm finally to the point where I generally like things I create more than I dislike them. That feels like some sort of milestone.

Falcarius by David Orr
Utahraptor by David Orr

So I decided to draw a stegosaur, because I don't often (ever) do that. But I couldn't just pick Stegosaurus because that's a little obvious. So I went with good ol' Kentrosaurus instead.

Kentrosaurus by David Orr

Anyhow, I won't keep you too long. If you're fond of these and would like to support some independent art on this fine day, feel free to check these out in my Redbubble shop's Paleoillustration section. Even though it's a mouthful, I like "paleoillustration" as a term for this kind of thing - less baggage than "paleoart." Feels like it affords more wiggle room for whimsy.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Dinosaur Art II - Marc's review

You may find it difficult to believe (or just unsettling to contemplate), but it's been five years since the publication of the original Dinosaur Art, that gorgeous-looking coffee table compendium of "The World's Greatest Palaeoart". Five years is a long time in the world of scientifically-informed life reconstructions of prehistoric animals, and so now editor Steve White and Titan Books are back with Dinosaur Art II: The Cutting Edge of Palaeoart. Is it just more of the same? Well, not quite; there aren't too many surprises, and the format remains largely unchanged, but there is a little more stylistic variation than before, including a breakout into the world of model sculpting. What's perhaps most telling is how DA2 brings the series into the post-Paulian age.

Dodgy photo from my sofa.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

This Mesozoic Month: October 2017

In the News

Drepanosaurs are having quite a moment. And now, we've got a new member of the club: Avicranium. Described by Adam Pritchard and Sterling Nesbitt, its noggin does look awfully bird-like (as you may have guessed from that generic name). It even received a gorgeous reconstruction from Matt Celeskey!

If you've ever watched the dipping and rising trajectory of a woodpecker flying between trees, you've witnessed "bounding flight." New research reveals that a small enantornithine from the Jehol Biota, Junornis, did the same. Read more from Dave Hone in the Guardian and Fernanda Castano at Letters from Gondwana.

In further Jehol Biota news, Sinosauropteryx is the subject of newly published research seeking to resolve its coloration in life. Fian Smithwick et al describe the little bugger as the resident of a fairly open habitat, sporting countershaded coloration a dapper bandit mask (see Bob Nicholl's restoration). It also confirms that the banded tail present in this little comsognathid's fossil remains is the result of the preservation of melanin, and not any other artifact of preservation. This research also broadens our knowledge of the Jehol environment, previously known to have been chiefly enclosed forest.

"Only three good specimens are known for Ankylosaurus," Victoria Arbour writes. So she and Jordan Mallon went about a comprehensive review of what we've learned since Carpenter's comprehensive 2004 paper. What's especially cool is that this reappraisal was spurred by her consultations with the Saurian team. Read about Arbour and Mallon's conclusions at Pseudoplocephalus and from Brian Switek at Laelaps.

They grow up so fast! The first known newborn ichthyosaur fossil has been described.

New research on a site in the Kaiparowits plateau offers a ton of insight into hadrosaur nesting behavior. Read more from Pete Bucholz at Earth Archives and Duane Nash at Antediluvian Salad.

How old are cockroaches? Though there's a common misconception that they date back to the Carboniferous, a new review of the oldest true cockroach fossils dates them to the Mesozoic.

Remains of a giant azhdarchid from Mongolia's Nemegt Formation have been published. Head to Pteros for more.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

Another TetZooCon has come and gone. Darren Naish writes about the event at the TetZoo blog, and Albertonykus and our own Marc Vincent also offer their own recaps.

At the SVP blog, check out Christian Kammerer's interview with Zoë Lescaze, author of the new Taschen book on paleoart.

Mark Witton has provided his own insightful review of Lescaze's book at Palaeo-Electro.

Time to vote for the top ten fossil taxa of 2017! Head to PLOS Paleo Community to learn more.

At Tet Zoo, Darren Naish writes about the history of Protoichthyosaurus.

Head to the Saurian devlog to see how they've updated their Ankylosaurus model with Victoria Arbour's help.

At Hydrarchos, Ilja Nieuwland writes about Friedrich König's plaster dinosaurs.

The Bearded Lady Project is hitting the road. Follow the project's website to see if a screening and portrait exhibition is coming your way.

The powerhouse paleoart team of Scott Elyard and Raven Amos ran the IAmSciArt Twitter account for a week during October. Head to their first tweet and scroll through for a treasure trove of paleoart insight.

And that's not all in the realm of rotating curator accounts on Twitter: Liz Martin-Silverstone guested at BioTweeps, too. As you might expect, she covered pterosaurs, but also dug into many other facets of a career in palaeontology. Start here.

The Empty Wallets Club


Dinosaur Art II is now available! The first Dinosaur Art volume was a big hit among readers, offering a look at some of the most influential paleoartists of the last forty years. The sequel focuses on contemporary artists, including Andrey Atuchin, Emily Willoughby, Sergey Krasovskiy, Velizar Simeonovski, Mark Witton, Julio Lacerda Jason Brougham, Vitali Klatt, Peter Schouten, and Tom Bjorklund. Also, Witton wrote an article about the book, as well as a defense of palaeoart as a scientific practice, at Boing Boing.


If you're a fan of more abstract and stylized paleoillustration, you'll want to check out Lonely Planet's Dinosaur Atlas, illustrated in vivid vector awesomeness by James Gilleard. Check out more of his beautiful work from the book at Behance.


Toronto artist Greer Stothers has been creating colorful enamel pins of ceratopsids, with Triceratops and Wendiceratops available now. Protoceratops and Styracosaurus are coming soon. Be sure to check out her beautiful risograph prints as well (yeah, you can expect to see these in the upcoming holiday guide).

The LITC AV Club

Brian Engh was a guest on the Scicomm Monday show, talking paleoart, including the awesome new battlin' mastodons piece he created for the Western Science Center. Check it out on Periscope.

The Dinosaur George podcast hosted trusty ol' Dave Hone, who discussed dinosaur behavior.

The In Defense of Plants podcast got into palaeobotany again, as host Matt Candeias spoke with Jeff Benca about lycopsids.

Another of my favorites is "In Our Time," and host Melvyn Bragg recently talked feathered dinosaurs with Michael Benton, Maria McNamara, and Steve Brusatte.

Crowdfunding Spotlight

The Royal Ontario Museum needs help preparing Zuul's tail club! Head to this site to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign.

A Moment of Paleoart Zen

Dawndinos is a five year research project studying the ways locomotion played a role in the success of the earliest dinosaurs. Paleoart titan Bob Nicholls was commissioned to create an original illustration for the team, and delivered a doozy: Archosaurian Dawn, in which a Marasuchus flock scavenges fallen Aetosauroides carcasses as a Gracilisuchus passes by in the foreground.

Archosaurian Dawn by Bob Nicholls, posted here with his permission.

Read more about Bob's process in creating the piece at the Dawndinos website.

Monday, October 23, 2017

TetZooCon 2017

On Saturday October 21, Natee and I once again attended TetZooCon, the convention spun off (lest we forget) from Darren Naish's long-running blog, Tetrapod Zoology (currentlyhostedatScientificAmerican), and the incredibly tightly focused and well-edited TetZoo Podcast. It's becoming the very best kind of annual tradition. Better even than Christmas; all the boozing is there*, but you get to hear awesome zoology-themed talks and schmooze it up with renowned scientists and artists, rather than having to pretend to like your extended family. For its fourth iteration, the show moved venues and was even bigger and grander than ever; a bit like Jurassic World with more convincing dinosaurs and female characters. Here's how it all went down.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Vintage Dinosaur Art: In the Days of the Dinosaurs - Part 2

Have you thought much about Corythosaurus recently? No? Well, no one seems to care so much about Corythosaurus these days, do they? It's all, "Shantungosaurus this" and "Olorotitan that". Back in the 1950s, though, Corythosaurus was the talk of the town, and so it's only natural that Jean Zallinger illustrated it for the remarkably good In the Days of the Dinosaurs (do read Part 1 if you haven't already). Of course, it's messing about on the river.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Beasts of the Grand Staircase!

This Wednesday, October 11, is National Fossil Day in the US, during which science organizations around the country hold paleontology outreach events. The National Park Service and partner organizations are holding a major Fossil Day event on the National Mall in Washington, DC. To see what events are happening near you, see the list from Sarah Gibson at PLOS Paleo Community (parts one and two).

Just over a week ago, I was contacted by David Polly, president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, to design some Fossil Day outreach materials. The SVP wanted to commission a set of trading cards highlighting six amazing dinosaur discoveries at Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. I was thrilled to get the gig and pitched the idea of doing something colorful, graphic, and fun. Dr. Polly had a list of taxa in mind, so I started sketching. A few days later, the art was given the thumbs up and the cards went into production! This was one of the quickest project turnarounds I've ever worked on, and I'm totally pleased with the end result.

"Beasts of the Grand Staircase" trading cards, designed by David Orr of Blue Aster Studio for the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. Photo by David Polly.

This project was special for a few reasons. First of all, this was the first time I was commissioned by the SVP to create something, and that's something of a dream come true. Second, ceratopsids are a heck of a lot of fun to draw, and this set was half ceratopsid! Third, I was very happy to draw Utahceratops gettyi; many of you may already know that the species' namesake, Mike Getty, passed away tragically a few weeks ago. I never had the chance to meet him, but I've appreciated the fond tributes from folks in the paleontology community whose life he impacted. And finally, the protection of public lands is an issue close to my heart, and they are in peril. We need to raise up a grassroots effort to defend these precious places.

Thank you to Dr. Polly for bringing me aboard this outreach effort. Learn more information about the DC event on the SVP news page. The SVP is also distributing a flyer I designed featuring the card art for all to share. Have a great National Fossil Day, everyone!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Vintage Dinosaur Art: In the Days of the Dinosaurs - Part 1

Now here's a curious one - a book from 1959, written by the great Roy Chapman Andrews and illustrated by Jean Zallinger. Wait, you mean Rudolph, surely? Well, no; Rudolph Zallinger may be the man behind The Age of Reptiles mural in the Peabody museum, but his wife Jean Day Zallinger is a prolific illustrator, and it shouldn't really be too surprising that she should lend her hand to a book such as this. It's strange not seeing Rudolph's name in this saurian context, but Jean is more than capable of holding her own...even if The Age of Reptiles does heavily influence some of the art here, as we shall see.

This is another one sent to me by Charles Leon - thanks again Charles!


Thursday, September 28, 2017

This Mesozoic Month: September 2017

In the News

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology 2017 meeting was held in late August in Calgary. There have been a few posts from attendees, though not as many as I'd hoped. Check out recaps from Liz Martin-Silverstone and Albertonykus. Alex Hastings presented a poster on dinosaurs in comics and writes about his extensive research. Over at the RMDRC Paleo Lab blog, Anthony Maltese writes about the creation of the Protosphyraena skeletal mount he unveiled at SVP.

Californians can finally relax: they have an official state dinosaur. It's the hadrosaur Augustynolophus [insert hilarious vegetarian joke here]. Read more from Smithsonian and the LA Times.

It's the case of the upside-down ankylosaurs! New research studies the phenomenon of armored dinosaurs being discovered on their backs. Read more at Live Science.

Morturneria seymourensis, an aristonectine plesiosaur that swam the Antarctic seas of the Late Cretaceous, was first discovered more than 30 years ago, but new research has revealed it to be an oddball in the family: a filter feeder, with teeth that interlocked to trap and strain krill and other small food from the water. Read more from Sci-News and Earth Archives.

And while we're talking marine reptiles, meet the mighty Thaumatodracon. Adam S. Smith writes about the newly named rhoemaleosaurid at Plesiosauria.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

If you were a bit thrown by the term "allokotosauria" when Shringasaurus was revealed last month, have no fear. Zach Miller has a new post at Waxing Palaeontological about this clade's history and current roster of beasts.

At Earth magazine, Thea Boodhoo profiles paleontologist Dr. Lisa D. White and her efforts to give youths in underrepresented groups access to the geosciences.

How do paleontologists in the field decide how to conduct their search for fossils? How do they determine the significance of what they find? Adrian Currie writes about the secret epistemology of field work at Extinct.

Victoria Arbour visits the Prehistoric Park at the Calgary Zoo. And if you didn't read her latest Vintage Dinosaur Art post here, get on it! Oh, and ONE MORE THING, vote for Pseudoplocephalus!

At Antediluvian Salad, Duane Nash muses about groundcover in the Mesozoic, especially as depicted in paleoart, and winds up thinking a lot about biocrusts. Definitely worth a read if you're into palaeoart that delves into the more subtle details of an environment.

Public paleoart projects are always worth a look. The Everything Dinosaur blog features a new project to honor Gideon Mantell with a life-size sculpture of an iguanodontid in the town of his birth: Lewes, in East Sussex, England.

At ART Evolved, Herman reviews Naish and Barrett's Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved.

The Empty Wallets Club

Amargasaurus tote bag designed by Levi Hastings, image used here with his permission.

I've long been a fan of Levi Hasting's abstract dinosaur watercolors and screenprints, and have featured his work here often. His new Amargasaurus tote bag is splendid. Perfect for carrying around a collection of dino toys. Pick it up in his Etsy shop.

Dinosaur gathering in my living room. #nevergrowup

A post shared by TRX Dinosaurs (@trxdinosaurs) on

Have you seen the incredible models and puppets created by TRX Dinosaurs? Here's a pic from their Instagram feed, which also includes some fun videos. Head to the TRX Dinosaurs website, where you can order your own poseable, life-size sculpture of Velociraptor or Deinonychus, or order a custom puppet! They're pricey, but the attention to detail and fidelity to contemporary paleontological knowledge certainly make them worth every cent.

The LITC AV Club

Designer and illustrator Ian Stewart heroically animated the artwork of Ray Troll to make a music video for the Ratfish Wranglers' "Ages of Rock."

Read the excellent post on paleoart from the Royal Tyrrell Museum blog, featuring a look at the process by which the museum and Julius Csotonyi came to the final version of his Regaliceratops illustration. Here's a video to accompany the piece.

Hey. There's a video game called Anatomically Incorrect Dinosaurs. Sounds right up our alley, doesn't it? And doesn't this trailer make sense? Like, total sense?

Crowdfunding Spotlight

Last minute campaign alert! This one closes on September 30, so be quick about it. Especially if you're a fan of Victorian art and design giant William Morris (he of the Arts and Crafts movement fame). Especially if you're a fan of his famous "Strawberry Thief" pattern - because now, it's got dinosaurs in it. Pledge at Kickstarter for your pocket square, necktie, or scarf!

A Moment of Paleoart Zen

I'm in a sauropod mood and I just can't shake it, so this month let's bask in the glories of this Diplodocus piece by Stevie Moore. Available as a print from his on-line shop, too!

Diplodocus carnegii illustration be Stevie Moore, shared here with his permission.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Vintage Dinosaur Art: How Tough was a Tyrannosaurus?

The Q&A format is a very popular one for children's dinosaur books, and indeed I've covered a few during my invaluably spent time writing for LITC. However, this one's a little special, and that's because it was sent to me by long-time reader Herman Diaz via airmail, all the way from the US. Cheers, Herman! Dating from 1989, it's very typical of the era, and features quite a number of entertaining tropes...not least a probably-quite-explicable fixation on the titular Tyrant Reptile.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Paper Dinosaurs

Hello faithful LITC readers! I'm back from 5 weeks in the wilderness and SVP, and have a pretty cute piece of vintage dinosaur art to share with you. Today we're looking at Paper Dinosaurs: 20 Model Monsters to Cut and Fold, by David Hawcock and published in 1988 by Marshall Cavendish Books.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

This Mesozoic Month: August 2017

In the News

Meet Serikornis, a small troodontid whose feathers are utterly lacking in barbules. Read more at Theropoda and NatGeo. And check out the amazing Emily Willoughby illustration, featured at the end of this post as our Moment of Paleoart Zen.

Hot diggity, do I love weird Triassic stuff. Check out the twin-horned terror that is Shringasaurus! Read more at Everything Dinosaur, Letters from Gondwana, and NatGeo.

New research into the famous quad-flippered plesiosaurs looks at how they might have propelled themselves through the water. Coauthor Darren Naish writes all about it at TetZoo. And do check out the video about the research down in the LITC AV Club section of this post.

Patagotitan is the putative "largest dinosaur" now, finally getting published after years of notoriety and even display. And it's coming to Chicago's Field Museum, kicking Sue off of the perch she's occupied for two decades. Read more from Paleo-King, Ben Miller, and Ed Yong at the Atlantic.

Lemmysuchus obtusidens is a new teleosaurid on the scene, made to crush shells. And yes, it's named for Lemmy Koopa. Er, I mean Kilmeister. Read more from Sci News, the Telegraph, and WaPo.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

At Waxing Paleontological, Zach follows up last year's Hopeful Dinosaurs article in the wake of new research that puts Pisanosaurus in the silesaurid bucket.

Mark Witton writes an exhaustive post on the paleoart sin of shrinkwrapping.

Head over to the New York Times, where Asher Elbein has written a great piece on the ongoing saga of the tangled dromaeosaurs of The Utahraptor Project.

Los Angeles will be hosting next year's Flugsaurier conference, and Dave Hone has the details.

You probably like dinosaurs. Otherwise, why are you here? If you like the world-famous LEGO brand of construction bricks too, boy howdy do you want to see Gareth Monger's latest Pteroformer post.

Lisa Buckley's back with another post from the field, in which she discovers her first Cretaceous bird tracks.

Herman Diaz is on a quest to compile a list of every dinosaur natural history book, and you can add your own suggestions at ART Evolved.

Prehistoric Pulp has moved to a new location, so update those bookmarks. Check out the recent review of Michael Crichton's Dragon Teeth.

The Empty Wallets Club

Mary Sanche runs a great Redbubble shop called Thoughts Up North. If you love ceratopsians in brilliant hues, this will be right up your alley. I love her Regaliceratops. Such a frisky pose.

Hey, I got back into the dinosaur heraldry game a little while ago! Here's my Sauropoda family crest design, featuring a Brontosaurus rampant. I have some ideas for others but haven't had the time to really figure them out. But the 'pod lovers are covered. Available on tees, mugs, stickers, and more at my Redbubble Shop.

The LITC AV Club

Draw a coelocanth with Brian Engh!

Listen to Memo Kosemen and Joschua Knüppe talk paleoart!

Luke Muscutt talks about the awesome new plesiosaur locomotion research!

Crowdfunding Spotlight

We've obviously featured it on this blog in the past, but since Asher's article in the NYT has been published, I'll mention the Utahraptor Project again. Go to GoFundMe to contribute to this monumental effort.

A Moment of Paleoart Zen

It was an obvious pick, but I had to go with Emily Willoughby's stunning Serikornis illustration. The kind of paleoart you just lose yourself in.

Serikornis by Emily Willoughby, shared here with her permission.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Big Animals of Long Ago - The Dinosaurs

Remember being a child in the 1970s? I don't (on account of not yet existing), but having reviewed so many remarkably similar kids' dinosaur books of the era, I feel like I've been there. Tail dragging yet sprightly tyrannosaurs, chunky title fonts, sauropods taking to the land, vibrant yellow-green colour palettes, the oil crisis, flares, the birth of punk; yes, they were probably the days. Let us now introduce Big Animals of Long Ago - The Dinosaurs, yet another identikit children's dino book from 1979. But for one very important twist. (This is another one sent to me by Charles Leon, by the way - cheers fella!)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Dinosaurs of China in Nottingham: part 2 - Feathered Flyers

While the reconstructed skeletons of big scaly beasts dominate the main downstairs area of Dinosaurs of China, the real treasures are upstairs, where far more delicate, intricately preserved and altogether fluffy animals await. While some of our scientist readers will have seen these in person before, DoC is a unique opportunity for us mere laypeople to get up close to feathered beauties from China. And yes, many of them are originals, including Stripy Longtail here!

Notice the fish, bottom left.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dinosaurs of China in Nottingham: part 1 - Ground Shakers

Have you ever wandered among the imposing corridors and grand halls of an historical stately home and thought about how much they could be improved by the addition of dinosaur skeletons? Then boy, do I have an exhibition for you. But more importantly, it's a showcase of numerous impressive skeletal mounts of Chinese dinosaurs, many never seen before outside their native country, along with an array of breathtaking original specimens. Dinosaurs of China is a huge coup for an obscure museum, a wonderful achievement of international co-operation, and a unique opportunity for British dinosaur enthusiasts - and Natee and I were fortunate enough to tour with curator Adam Smith.



Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Review: Dinosaur Empire

Cover art for Abby Howard's 'Dinosaur Empire' book

The gradual shifting of popular visions of prehistoric life has been a theme of this blog almost since the start. Looking at how old, mid-century or earlier ideas stick around longer than scientific consensus would dictate is fun, but one thing that's been rewarding has been watching in real time as the world embraces modern paleontology's increasingly nuanced and diverse view of dinosaurs.

Another cobblestone in that road has been placed with Abby Howard's wonderful Dinosaur Empire, now available from Amulet Books. Told in comic form, Howard takes the reader on a thorough tour of the Mesozoic, as a paleo-geek named Ms. Lernin takes a child named Ronnie on a time-travel adventure via the wibbly-wobbly power of "science magic." Anyhow, the book is awesome, and you should buy it, and here are five reasons why.

It embraces current palaeontological knowledge in an approachable way.

It's undeniably fun to get together with fellow paleo-geeks and talk prehistory. But sometimes, many of us will readily admit, talking with folks with only a superficial grasp on ancient life can be taxing. Dinosaur Empire is perfectly aimed at helping everyone understand and appreciate the history of life on Earth, no matter how in the dark they are to start - or what old notions they're holding on to. Howard's art is bright and humorous, her animals stylized but recognizable. Mark Witton recently praised Johan Egerkrans for his balance of stylization and anatomical fidelity, and Howard deserves the same praise.

It's funny.

If you're into Howard's comics Junior Scientist Power Hour or The Last Halloween, you'll be happy to hear that Howard's sense of humor is deployed just as effectively here. Using the form to her advantage, animals get to have humorous little reactions to and interactions with their environment and other animals.

An interior page from Abby Howard's 'Dinosaur Empire,' featuring a collection of pterosaurs.
A page dedicated to pterosaurs from Abby Howard's Dinosaur Empire graphic novel. Image courtesy Abrams Books.

It's about more than T. rex, and goes well beyond dinosaurs.

Howard realizes what any of us who have done education with kids realize: they want to hear the biggest hits, and quick. Her character of Ronnie reminds me of many kids I've met - her first order of business is to get to Tyrannosaurus rex. But Dinosaur Empire begins in the Triassic, and readers are soon introduced to aetosaurs, placodonts, ichthyosaurs, thallatosaurs, pterosaurs, insects, and more. Smok wawelski gets a page to itself. Eocaecilia, Castorocauda, Fruitachampsa, Morganucodon, Anatosuchus, Ocepechelon... they're in here. There's a page geeking out about the wonderful and gruesome world of parasitic wasps - in fact, where some books might include stinkin' arthropods as an aside, Howard returns to them multiple times. I was delighted to see how deep Howard went with her cast of critters - and just for good measure, she includes a brief appendix highlighting a collection of animals she couldn't fit in to the main story! I'm writing this with a big silly grin on my face in a tastefully decorated, quiet coffee shop, and I don't care what the other patrons think.

It's a heck of a lot more than just a simple roster of animals.

It's clear that Howard wanted to not only feature the amazing creatures of the past but put them into their context in time and in their environments. IMHO, she totally succeeds, taking the time to explain some foundational concepts of anatomy, evolution, phylogeny, and geology. She talks about protofuzz, pycnofibers, feathers, scales.

An interior page of Abby Howard's 'Dinosaur Empire' featuring a collection of triassic animals.
A page from the Triassic section of Abby Howard's Dinosaur Empire graphic novel. Image courtesy Abrams Books.

Abby Howard's love of prehistoric life is obvious.

Howard's animals are depicted naturalistically. They're nesting, socializing, drinking, feeding, hunting. Shrink-wrapping is markedly absent. Integument is believable, never too over-the-top with color schemes but not avoiding colorful and gaudy display structures, either. It's obvious that Howard wasn't just ticking off a checklist to fit so many of these obscure taxa in the book. She just loves drawing them. And when Ronnie finally gets to see her T. rex, it's a beautiful moment that Howard allows to breathe.

I hope I've made my case. This book deserves to be part of any paleontology book collection. It's perfect for elementary schoolers, but older paleo-geeks will get plenty of joy out of it. Pick it up, and send abundant plaudits Howard's way!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Animals of Yesterday

As regular readers will have noticed, I've received a great many scanned books by e-mail from Charles Leon, all very gratefully received (even the dino sex article). Animals of Yesterday, originally published in 1941 (with this edition arriving in 1966) is mostly a rather run-of-the-mill pre-Renaissance dinosaur book, stocked with the usual Zallingerian swamp beasts. All the same, it does present certain mysteries that I'd love for any readers familiar with museums in Milwaukee to clear up, and moreover it's a book from Charles' personal collection. I feel quite honoured!


Monday, July 31, 2017

This Mesozoic Month: July 2017

July! That really was a month, wasn't it? A mellow month after the sturm und drang of June, but still plenty of fun to be had, so let's start having it.

In the News

Razanandrongobe sakalavae is a new, giant notosuchian from Jurassic Madagascar. Learn more about this fearsome beast from Jon Tennant at PLOS.

Straight out of the nineties: fossils that have been in the Royal Tyrrell Museum since 1993 and 1996 have received new attention, found to be a new species of troodontid. Read about Albertavenator curriei at Live Science.

Drs. Hone and Holtz teamed up for a big overview of spinosaurs. Read about it from Archosaur Musings and grab the paper here [PDF link].

The earliest neornithine bird, Vegavis iaai, was recently the subject of osteohistological research, offering confirmation that it was a diving, foot-propelled bird. Read more from Fernanda Castano at Letters from Gondwana.

Read about the ongoing effort to recover and prepare "Walter," a giant hadrosaur from Rangely, Colorado, by a team from Colorado Northwestern Community College.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

Mark Witton interviews artist Johan Egerkrans, who has been doing some fantastic, cartoony prehistoric art lately.

At the Inverse, Jacquelyn Ronson talks to Mike Habib and Jordan Mallon about The Land Before Time and its scientific accuracy.

Darren Naish returns with another post about the big empty space in the noggins of ceratopsians at TetZoo.

At Raptormaniacs, check out some animatronic beasts at the Bristol Zoo.

NatGeo has done an amazing 3D tour of the Suncor nodosaur fossil.

Chris talks dinosaurs and beer at Prehistoric Beast of the Week.

Since industrial operations are digging in places where rock isn't naturally exposed, some unique fossils can turn up. The Royal Tyrrell Museum blog delves into this intersection of industry and science.

Paul Pursglove writes about Wukongopterus lii, now on display in the Dinosaurs of China exhibition at Wollaton Hall, at the Pterosaur database blog.

At the RMDRC blog, Anthony Maltese shares the story of finding a tyrannosaur's ass. Glamorous field work alert!

One of the most enduring questions about theropods -especially non-maniraptorans - is how they used those often small forelimbs. "T. rex trying," anyone? Duane Nash takes a critical look at some of our prevailing assumptions and comes up with some pretty satisfying counterpoints.

Liz Martin-Silverstone wraps up her "150 Things about Canadian Palaeontology" series with a look at some of the country's truly ancient fossil sites.

The Empty Wallets Club

The cover for Ted Rechlin's 'Jurassic' graphic novel.

Ted Rechlin's new dinosaur graphic novel, Jurassic, is now available from his own Rextooth Studios imprint. Pick it up at Amazon and read more at Rextooth.

Rebecca Groom's Yutyrannus art doll

Rebecca Groom of Palaeoplushies fame unveiled her painstakingly crafted Yutyrannus huali art doll, and it can be yours.

The LITC AV Club

Who's ready for an hour of Dave Hone talking about tyrannosaurs? He offers a fantastic overview of the family. Pull up a seat!

As if that wasn't generous enough, there's a great Q&A portion that the Royal Institution has made available to the masses.

Not enough tyrant action for you yet? No? Well have some more: Dr. Thomas Carr talks about Daspletosaurus horneri.

Saurian is finally here! At the time of this writing, the team is simply awaiting for Steam to approve it. Here's the release trailer for the game.

Finally, Mark Witton has announced his next book, and it's a doozy. Check out his preview video!

Crowdfunding Spotlight

Diane Ramic's 'Coloring Book of (Scientifically Accurate) Paleofauna' Diane Ramic's paleofauna coloring books are pretty wonderful, with an engaging aesthetic that allows colorers plenty of freedom to invent color schemes for the animals. Her second coloring book is being funded via Kickstarter. The campaign lasts until August 6, so hurry up and pledge.

A Moment of Paleoart Zen

So, this has been a tyrannosaur-heavy post. Why stop now? Here's Raph Lomotan's gorgeous Yutyrannus pair.

Raph Lomotan's Yutyrannus painting
Yutyrannus huali © Raph Lomotan, shared here with the artist's permission.

Be sure to follow Raph at DeviantArt. If you're into Star Wars, he's done quite a few beautiful character paintings as well.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Tyrannosaurus Sex: A Love Tail (Omni magazine, Feb 1988)

Beverly Halstead accomplished rather a lot in his life; geologist, palaeontologist, holder of professorships at universities around the world, author and science populariser, and more besides. Halstead (full name Lambert Beverly Halstead) died in 1991, and in spite of having written numerous popular dinosaur books, didn't figure into my childhood dinosaur obsession; I was probably a tiny bit too late. In fact, my first notable encounter with his work was when I got hold of a copy of his 1975 book The Evolution and Ecology of the Dinosaurs back in 2012, a significant book for those a little older than me, and perhaps what first comes to mind for many when they hear Halstead's name.

That and all the sex.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Vintage Dinosaur Art: The Crocodiles Still Wait

When attempting to flesh out their Mesozoic palaeoart scenes, artists will often throw in a few crocodilians. After all, many of them (although very far from all) closely resembled those we have with us today, which makes referencing a great deal easier. Quite apart from that, having a familiar animal in a scene helps accentuate the strange, exotic nature of beasties of more extinct archosarian clades. In this delightful book, however, one of those 'set dressing' creatures finally gets its time in the spotlight. Many thanks again to Charles Leon for sending me this one.


Friday, June 30, 2017

This Mesozoic Month: June 2017

It's kind of been an annoying month for those of us who don't think science exists to serve our personal preferences as to what prehistoric animals looked like (ahem). And if you're not into childish sensationalism in your science journalism, it's been doubly annoying. So... I made this. Obi-Wan Kenobi says 'Only a Science Headline Writer Deals in Absolutes.'

I think I remember that line correctly...

In the News

Let's start with something light and non-controversial, shall we? Thank goodness for amber, that perennial benefactor of the prehistorically-inclined. The latest gift? A beautiful little enantornithe. Read more from Asher Elbein, writing for Audubon.

New research at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, the site of a massive Jurassic bonebed dominated by Allosaurus remains, suggests a gradual deposition of carcasses over years of seasonal flooding, rather than a single catastrophic event. Read more from Brian Switek. Randall Irmis writes about iffy coverageof the research at the Natural History Museum of Utah blog.

There's been a streak of new insights into sensitive facial integument in theropods lately, and the newest published research is about Neovenator. Read more from Darren Naish at Tet Zoo (one of the study's coauthors) and Sam Barnett at the Natural Sciences Collections Association blog.

Finally, the story that inspired a thousand online arguments. Nothing like a new paper on tyrannosaur integument to get the people talking. There has been a ton of conversation over the paper itself as well as about the typically awful hot takes from sciencey websites and blogs. Read more from Meig Dickson at Earth Archives. Mark Witton's post is particularly insightful, and I for one will not fuss too much when I concede that my recent Science March sign has been rendered - probably - obsolete.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

At Prehistoric Beast of the Week, Chris has begun reviewing dinosaur figures by Safari, starting with a snazzy Coelophysis. Love the racing stripe.

Give a listen to WICN's Inquiry podcast, which recently featured Anthony J. Martin talking about paleontology, especially ichnology and his book Dinosaurs Without Bones.

At ART Evolved, Herman Diaz returns with more book reviews: Patricia Lauber's How Dinosaurs Came to Be (yay!) and Richard Moody's Dinofile (boo!).

There's a current effort to complete a database of every dinosaur specimen in the world, and Mike Taylor tells us about it at SV-POW.

In her latest post on Canadian paleontology, Liz Martin-Silverstone writes about the country's paleobotanical treasures.

Victoria Arbour visited the "coal age Galapagos," a fossil exposure in Nova Scotia, and found some beautiful stuff. Check it out at Pseudoplocephalus.

The LITC AV Club

PBS Digital Studios has begun a new paleontology video series titled Eons, hosted by Hank Green. Here's episode one, dedicated to trilobites. Subscribe at Youtube to see what they cook up next!

The Empty Wallets Club

The contents page from Taschen's 'Paleoart.'

The contents page of Taschen's Paleoart.
In August, the publishing company Taschen will release Zoë Lescaze's Paleoart, a scholarly look at the history of artistic depicions of ancient life. You know, paleoart.
The collection provides an in-depth look at this neglected niche of art history and shows how the artists charged with imagining extinct creatures often projected their own aesthetic whims onto prehistory, rendering the primordial past with dashes of Romanticism, Impressionism, Japonisme, Fauvism, and Art Nouveau, among other influences.
It looks gorgeous, but it does cost a pretty penny.

Crowdfunding Spotlight

Paleoartist Matt Martyniuk needs a new computer, and if you support him at GoFundMe, you get to help determine what his next project will be. Chip in at his campaign page!

A Moment of Paleoart Zen

Benke Bálint's Atopodentatus is one of my favorite depictions of the Triassic oddball.

Atopodentatus by Benke Bálint, shared here with the artist's permission.

Friday, June 23, 2017

American Museum of Natural History, part 3: no birds, please, we're bird-hips

And so, finally, to the hall of Ornithischian dinosaurs (as a reminder, Baron et al. 2017 isn't to be mentioned). In spite of the tendency of theropods and sauropods to hog the limelight, the AMNH's Other Dinosaur Hall almost manages to outshine the lizard-hipped-themed gallery - almost. There's no beating Rexy's charisma, but his eternal adversary certainly comes close.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Explore Mesozoic Ecosystems with Gabriel Ugueto

Illustrator, designer, and herpetologist Gabriel Ugueto's prolific output never ceases to stun me - a feeling Natee also shares, as the subject came up during our recent meeting. You may recall that Gabriel's posters of various families of non-avian dinosaurs were included in our 2016 gift guide, and may also recognize him as part of the Studio 252mya paleoart team.

Lately, Gabriel has been following up his previous series by designing posters based on various geological formations and the paleofauna they've revealed to us. Laid out phylogenetically, they offer a concise way to take stock of select groups of inhabitants of each of these paleoenvironments. Animals are shown in easy-to-understand lateral and dorsal views, occasionally with details like alternate views of the head with jaws agape. Each poster also includes a helpful scale diagram.

Gabriel Ugueto's Ischigualasto Formation Poster

The Ischigualasto Formation

Gabriel Ugueto's Niobrara Formation Poster

The Niobrara Formation

Gabriel Ugueto's Wessex Formation Poster

The Wessex formation

Gabriel Ugueto's Las Hoyas Formation Poster

The Las Hoyas Formation

Gabriel Ugueto's Kayenta Formation Poster

The Kayenta Formation

As someone who especially enjoys learning about prehistoric animals in context with their contemporaries, I really appreciate this undertaking - and it doesn't hurt that Gabriel's illustrations are beautiful and his layouts are attractive and easy to digest. The posters are available at Gabriel's Redbubble shop; links in the image captions above will take you directly to each poster's shop listing. Keep an eye out for his next design, dedicated to the Oxford Clay.

Follow Gabriel on Twitter, Redbubble, ArtStation, and Instagram, where he often shares works-in-progress and close-ups of individual animals - as well as a selfie game so fierce he handily earns the title #Paleobae. Thanks to Gabriel for allowing me to share his work here, now let's get them up on some walls!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Recent Travels and Meetings

The Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs team have been real globe trekkers lately. Marc visited New York, Asher got to see Iceland, and for the last three weeks - neatly bookended by her birthday and our anniversary - Jennie and I have been traveling in the UK and Spain. Since the last time I was here was a mere four months after LITC was born, I was finally able to meet LITC's two most veteran contributors, Marc and Natee, in person.

Marc, Natee, and me! Photo by Jennie.

We spent a couple of days in May hanging out. First, Marc took us all down to Birling Gap and we enjoyed a day of seaside hill-walking, pub-visiting, and riding a taxi back to Marc's car as a thrashing rain fell. The next day, we took advantage of sunshine - actual sunshine, the kind we have here in the States - and walked the expansive grounds of Kew Gardens.

When Dave Hone saw that we were nearby and reached out, we all decided to meet up after Kew Gardens, and had a terrific meal at a Japanese restaurant called Hare & Tortoise. We excitedly talked about paleoart, aberrant cranial morphology, and Dave's scientific immortality, granted by the almighty Bellubrunnus.

Natee and Marc check out a certain newly published book as Dave Hone and his friend Christine catch me in the act of taking a photo. It is not easy to snap a candid photo of Dave Hone, friends.
Jennie and Natee bond over teh noms.

Jennie and I then spent a week in southern Spain, enjoying the historical and natural treasures of Málaga and Ronda, before traveling to Cheshire to spend the remainder of the trip with our dear friend Marci and her family. This included a few days in southern Wales, among the highlands, waterfalls, and castles of Brecon Beacons.

Al Cazaba in Málaga.
Ronda.
Little Moreton Hall.
Carreg Cennan Castle in Brecon Beacons National Park.

Before we returned to the states, however, we got to meet up with Gareth Monger, whose art has regularly appeared here at LITC, at the Manchester Museum. He was accompanied by his wife, Jess, and daughter, Alice. As Gareth and I are both type-loving graphic designers who also love paleontology, we had plenty to keep us constantly chatting. And the Mongers were even game to accompany Jennie and me on a hunt for a good gift for our dog-sitters back home! Another successful transition from the web to IRL.

Gareth and I at the Manchester train station. Photo by Jennie.

The Manchester Museum's paleontology hall deserves a few words. It isn't huge, but it's packed with great stuff. There's a cast of Stan, which may not be unique, but the placement on a tall pedestal allows visitors to walk beneath the tyrant, getting views one doesn't usually see.

Beneath Stan.

There's more than Stan, of course. There are wings of the hall dedicated to marine reptiles and Triassic reptiles, with models accompanying cabinets of fossils. The museum's enormous Carboniferous tree is a truly impressive specimen, and as someone who lives and hikes upon Carboniferous limestones, shales, and sandstones, it was a wonderful change of pace from the plant fragments I usually see. And as reassurance to visitors who are eager to skip straight to dinosaurs, there's a Gorgosaurus cast in the museum's entry hall - like Stan, it comes from from the Black Hills Institute.

Marine life of the Mesozoic.
One impressive tree fossil.
The Triassic reptiles, with models of Rhynchosaurus and... dang it, I forgot to note which species the big Rauisuchian fellow is.
The museum's recently acquired Gorgosaurus mount, in the entry hall.

Finally, we had a few spare hours down in London before our flight to grab dinner, and since we had been so entranced by Hare & Tortoise I messaged Natee to see if they could meet us for one more meal. Invitation enthusiastically accepted, we got one more visit in before flying back. Our shared love for ice cream vies for dominance with our love of paleontology!

All in all, an utterly enjoyable vacation, enriched by meeting face to face with long-time online friends. I hope we can visit the UK before another 8 years elapses, and have more time to meet even more paleo-folk. Now, back to reality. Paleoart survey results coming soon...