Dom and the Dinosaurs

I suppose that I should really suck it up and out myself.

I like dinosaurs.

I possibly more than like them, and it goes wider than just ‘dinosaurs’ – stretching into all kinds of prehistoric beasties.

I should also say that I am firmly in the “BAD” camp – that is, birds are dinosaurs. Not ‘possibly’, not ‘maybe’, not ‘common ancestor’ … birds are dinosaurs. No debate here. (Slightly scary that I just typed ‘birds are dinosaurs’ into Google and one of the auto-suggestions was ‘birds are mammals’.)

Why Birds Are Dinosaurs

Why Birds Are Dinosaurs

To quote the guy who made that drawing:

Telling “dinosaurs” and “birds” apart is as ridiculous as telling “amphibians” and “frogs” apart. It’s physically and logically impossible. But can you tell “frogs” and “salamanders” apart? Certainly.

I genuinely don’t want to turn this into a BAD rant (or an anti-BAND rant) so I’ll leave it there …

I’m not sure quite why the usual childhood fascination with prehistoric life remained with me through to adulthood, but it did, and it is firmly entrenched. Up to the point where I take a MOOC (massive open online course) in dinosaur paleobiology), and the recent artwork …

It fascinates me.

I think it stems from the same place, in a way, as my love of family history. Its about wanting to know what comes before, the journey, how things came to have the forms that they do now, and also why they don’t have any of the other myriad forms that have gone before.

When I was little, my favourite dinosaur was either Diplodocus or Styracosaurus, although I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a suitable reason for either of those. Possibly aged 8 it would’ve been something like “coz they’re cool”. Which is honest, if not very eloquent –  it took me a few more years to master ‘parietosquamosal frill’, for example.

Close-up of the AM5372 skull, American Museum of Natural History

Close-up of the AM5372 skull, American Museum of Natural History

Nowadays? I don’t think that I would be able to give you an answer. Or at least not a succinct one. I always get cheesed off when browsing palaeoart sites because people tend to focus so much on the “sexy” dinosaurs. That is, predominantly the Maniraptoriformes. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that there isn’t a lot to get excited about here – but it seems its like these get all the attention, and have been since JP came out. Those and Tyrannosaurus rex.

I quite like Poposaurus (which is not a dinosaur – its a pseudosuchian archosaur therefore more closely related to living crocodiles), but mainly for its name. Abelisaurs also fascinate me slightly, with their vastly reduced – atrophied, almost vestigial – forelimbs and hatchet-shaped skulls.

Therizinosaurs also have to be on the list somewhere. Yes, they’re maniraptoran theropods – but giant, herbivorous ones. Despite the whacking great claws …

Replica of a fossil claw of Therizinosaurus cheloniformis. Found in the Upper Cretaceous Nemegt Formation (about 70 million years old), Mongolia. Collection of the Sauriermuseum Aathal, Aathal, Switzerland.

Replica of a fossil claw of Therizinosaurus cheloniformis. Found in the Upper Cretaceous Nemegt Formation (about 70 million years old), Mongolia. Collection of the Sauriermuseum Aathal, Aathal, Switzerland.

Its still not an answer, is it? Eesh. You know, I don’t think I can. Especially if you factor in all the awesome pre-Dinosauria creatures, and then all the fantastic ones that have come since …

So I’m going to end with a link to one of my favourite dinosaur blogs at the moment – Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs. In their own words, the guys who run it state:

Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs is a fairly frequently updated blog about dinosaurs. It’s been going since the summer of 2009, including regular features like Vintage Dinosaur Art, sharing visions of the Mesozoic by paleoart icons as well as jobbing illustrators working on obscure books, and frequent roundups of dinosaur news and blogosphere action called Mesozoic Miscellany.

Personally, I love it more for the Vintage Dinosaur Art (one of which I was able to submit) postings – showing how the representation of dinosaurs has altered through the Dinosaur Renaissance of the last couple of decades. That’s not to say terrible outdated renditions don’t still crop up from time to time, including the same old recycled memes, but to a far lesser degree than the standards of the 1960s, 70s and even the 80s. Check it out, its a lot of fun.

Advertisements

3 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s