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 Kn├╝ppe 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.