@alphynix: Clear and concise reconstructions. Nix is never afraid to go out there with soft tissues. They also do themed months where they cover a bunch of genera/species from a particular group of animals.
@elimagnoli: Adorable stylized illustrations. Critters so cute I want to die.
@jordankwalker: Super detailed illustrations and paintings. Jordan’s work always feels so alive.
@252mya: A paleoart studio made up of some real greats. These peeps are awesome and I could go on forever about their level of quality.
@franzanthony: Although he works for 252mya he also produces plenty of wok separately. Franz is another fantastic realism painter.
@palaeornithology: Alex’s portraits of prehistoric life always have so much personality.
@chris-masna: Chris is a concept artist for @saurian-game, and his work is always on point. His use of texture makes me feel like I could reach out an touch his animals.
@antoninjury: Antonin creates cartoony animations and illustrations that make me wish there was a really good children’s cartoon featuring their work.
@iguanodont: And we end today’s list with the master of blending realism and style. Iguanodont has an amazing talent for giving dinosaurs goofy facial expressions. Also their colours are always on point.
20$ slot for @theoldbone, who requested a prehistoric creature. I chose Deinonychus, my favorite dinosaur. I am not a paleoartist by any means and I took a loooot of liberties with color. I hope it doesn’t disappoint!
My favorite kind of art to do is “gesture drawing”. These are quick drawings, taking anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes, trying to capture the essence of a pose. These drawings tend to be simple but full of energy and life. I do it every day to warm up, and try to carry some of that same energy into my finished drawings. Usually gesture drawing is done with the human figure, but I find that paired with “book” study of any form, human or animal, doing lots of gestures is a great way to get an intuitive sense of their anatomy.
Hi there! I was planning for the animal life in my fantasy story to consist of mythological creatures (region dependent) but also giant animals like those from the Ice Age (I was inspired by the Irish Elk skeleton I saw a picture of once). How "plausible" would it be for animals of that size to live around humans, when the general era of inspiration for human societies is around 900-1200CE? Are there important ecological things I should consider, such as food sources and whatnot?
Oooohhhhhh, I love this! I’m personally a huge fan of Pleistocene megafauna, and some of them are definitely going to be roaming around in one of my fantasy stories. After seeing their fossils in natural history museums, it’s hard to avoid being inspired and intrigued by them.
So, getting to the actual question: First, a reminder that humans and Pleistocene megafauna overlapped. In fact, there is still scientific debate about whether climate change or human hunters led to their demise. So having humans and megafauna together is actually entirely possible. The more crucial issue is whether humans in a highly-organized society/civilization would exist alongside the megafauna.
In order to obtain the population density necessary for forming cities and such, people have relied on agriculture. So they would need crops that are capable of growing in the same sort of climate as that conducive to megafauna.
So, what was different during the Pleistocene when megafauna roamed the continents? First off, climate. Atmospheric carbon dioxide was lower, and climate was generally cooler and drier. Large parts of North America and Eurasia were covered by thousands of feet of ice, sea level was lower, and mountain glaciers were also more extensive.
All of these differences in climate meant that Eurasia and North America had large expanses of steppe and grassland. These grasslands supported large herds of animals, which in turn supported many large carnivores. In some ways, parts of Europe and the North America resembled today’s African savannas. (There are actually proposals to bring African mammals to other locations for rewilding projects). As for food sources… The grazing animals will lots of grass, and the carnivores will need lots of prey. What your humans eat is up to you.
Personally, I wouldn’t see too much problem with having humans and megafauna overlapping. (Some of the megafauna are really cool and strange. Just imagine what Australia looked like–it’s pretty fun.) In my mind, one of the biggest barriers is making sure that humans have the resources necessary to build large, sedentary societies. They’ll need building material (wood is scarce in grasslands), and they’ll need crops that can tolerate cool and dry conditions.
Obviously there is a large amount of climate variability during the last ice age, based on location. The U.S. southwest, which is desert today, had large lakes at that point in time–so not everywhere was cold and dry. But thinking of steppe ecosystems is a good place to start.
One good glimpse of a Pleistocene ecosystem is Rancho La Brea, which preserves many megafauna (especially carnivores) but also environmental indicators like plant material. Using the term “Pleistocene megafauna” in online searches should also help bring up results.
One last place to look: Paleoartists! (Like this one)
I don’t think the situation is terribly implausible, as long as you consider the environments that your chosen megafauna live in, and remember what a human society will need in order to survive. So look up some megafauna, figure out your location and ecosystem, and have fun!
Best of luck, and come back if you have any more questions! -Mod Terra
Finally got around to painting my Zbrush model of Anhanguera. I have a
huge backlog of unfinished work built up. Some of them have been posted
around on my various portfolio sites as WIP’s but most of them have not been
seen by anyone. I’m going to be working on finishing these projects up
and getting them online. The majority of them are paleo-reconstructions
of some kind.
I’ll also be using this polypainted Zbrush model as a guide to paint the 3d printed
model of the posed version. I’m hoping to post photos of that up
soon. I just need to get my hands on some new paint and brushes.
What do you think about the "dinosauroid" speculative model for troodontid evolution
I’ve talked a little bit about the dinosauroid before on this blog, but now I’m going to give you a much more specific and detailed answer. The short answer, for those who don’t like reading, is “It sucks.”
For those of you who want the long answer:
In 1982, a Canadian paleontologist named Dale Russell reconstructed the above creature - a hypothetical sentient dinosaur, which he dubbed “the Dinosauroid”. He conjectured that, had the Cretaceous extinction never happened, some dinosaurs might have gone on to evolve humanlike intelligence. Russell’s candidate for the dinosaur most likely to develop sentience was Stenonychosaurus (now known as Troodon), a dinosaur known for its big brain.
Russell developed a relative well-thought-out conceptualization of dinosauroid biology. He speculated that the Dinosauroid would give birth to live young, but would feed them in a birdlike fashion, due to its lack of mammary glands. He also speculated that it would have a large, human-like brain, with proportionally larger eyes in the fashion of its troodontid ancestors.
This is stupid.
First of all, Troodon may not have been as intelligent as we thought. While troodontids did have the largest brains relative to their body sizes of all dinosaurs (excluding modern birds), it’s debatable how much this would have contributed to their intelligence. My personal theory, based on the anatomy of troodontid eyes and ears, is that they filled a similar niche to modern-day owls - nocturnal predators that hunted with sight and hearing - and that their large brains were focused on processing sensory input, rather than having a particularly advanced capacity for creative intelligence.
Secondly, Dale Russell’s dinosauroid is anthropocentric to a disagreeable degree. Russell’s contemporaries criticized him for his vision of a sentient dinosaur as little more than a scaly, four-fingered human; paleoartist Gregory S. Paul called its anthropomorphism “suspicious”, and I’m inclined to agree. While I’m sure that Dale Russell meant well, this depiction of a sentient theropod is unimaginative at best, and willfully ignorant of theropod evolutionary trends at worst.
Why do I say “willfully” ignorant? Because there are sentient theropods alive today!
Crows have demonstrated remarkable intelligence, empathy, and ingenuity, leading some to classify them as sentient beings. You might also notice that crows don’t have a humanoid body plan; they’re capable of making and using tools with just their beaks and feet. An intelligent dinosaur would likely do the same, retaining a more traditional theropod body plan.
What dinosaurs would have become intelligent, had they survived? Hard to say; like I said above, brain size and brain-to-body ratio do not necessarily correlate with intelligence. However, we do know that tyrannosaurs had brains that were more structurally similar to modern birds than most dinosaurs did. If I had to bet on a potential candidate for dinosaur sentience, I’d pick a small tyrannosaur; a dinosaur with a very advanced brain, but one that needed to use it to outsmart bigger and stronger predators of comparable intelligence, not just its prey.
I think a good candidate is Dryptosaurus, a 25-foot-long tyrannosaurid from Late Cretaceous North America. Although large by the standards of modern predators, Dryptosaurus was fairly small for a Late Cretaceous tyrannosaur, and probably got muscled away from more than a few kills by bigger predators. Who knows? Had the dinosaurs survived, it might not have taken 65 million years for Dryptosaurus to get smarter…
Obligatory selfie with Max the Mastodon after a long day of exhibit prep and installation. This exhibit, “Valley of the Mastodons,” has been a tremendous undertaking: featuring at least 12 individual Mastodons, it may very well be the largest exhibition of such specimens to date, and has drawn paleontologists from across the US and Canada, as well as paleoartists and even a visiting poet! The PLOS Paleo Community blog called it “the Comic-Con of Mastodons,” and the energy is right: everyone is buzzing with excitement as new researchers arrive, fossils are examined with new methods, and the exhibit itself comes together.
Valley of the Mastodons opens at the Western Science Center in Hemet, CA, on August 5th.
I can tell you so many things about Therizinosaurus. The therizinosaurs have had one of the wildest rides in dinosaur history, in terms of how their remains were interpreted, and now we’re going to take a closer look at that.
The therizinosaurs were named after Therizinosaurus, the first known member of the group. Therizinosaurus was discovered in 1948 by Soviet and Mongolian paleontologists, who initially believed they belonged to a giant turtle that used its long claws to harvest seaweed.
…I’m not exactly sure why this was the first thought, but it was. Since the only known fossils were the arms, no one knew exactly what the body of Therizinosaurus looked like. Even when the claws were determined to belong to a dinosaur, Therizinosaurus’ true nature remained mysterious. It was often reconstructed as a giant meat-eater that tore its prey to pieces with its massively distended hand-claws.
The image above depicts the “Therizinosaurus” enemy from Dino Crisis, a game from 1999. Not to jump ahead, but Therizinosaurus was still pretty poorly understood even at that late date.
Meanwhile, in the 1970s, a new dinosaur was discovered, and named Segnosaurus by its discoverers. Segnosaurus was reasonably complete, but lacked a head and neck. Uncertain as to what type of dinosaur it was, paleontologists speculated that it belonged to a late-surviving lineage of primitive sauropods - a group dubbed “the segnosaurs”.
(Anybody who knows the end of this story is probably giggling pretty hard at the above image right now.)
Several more species of segnosaur were discovered from the 70′s through the 80′s and 90′s, all from Mongolia or China - Nanshiungosaurus, Erlikosaurus, and Enigmosaurus. It was eventually determined, based on the similarities of its claws to other members of the group, that Therizinosaurus was a segnosaur as well, causing the group to be renamed “therizinosaurs”. While these discoveries began to shed more light on the therizinosaurs - including the fact that they were not primitive sauropods, and in fact a unique group of theropods - no one was quite sure what the hell these dinosaurs were. None of the fossils found were complete enough to definitively classify them.
It wasn’t until 1994 that a therizinosaur skull was discovered, shedding a great deal of light on these animals’ ecological niche. Alxasaurus, another Mongolian therizinosaur, possessed teeth that were definitely suited for eating plants. This essentially confirmed that the therizinosaurs were herbivorous theropods - something previously unknown to science. In addition, the 1999 discovery of Beipiaosaurus proved that therizinosaurs were feathered, and additional features of its anatomy revealed that they were highly derived coelurosaurus, closely related to tyrannosaurs, dromaeosaurs, and modern birds. (Modern paleoartists havealotoffundrawing therizinosaurs with all sorts of fanciful feathers, fleshy display organs, and color patterns that border on garish.)
Since then, more therizinosaur species have been discovered - including a few in North America. These species have more primitive anatomies than the Asian varieties, suggesting that therizinosaurs first evolved in North America before emigrating to Asia.
So what does this tell us about Therizinosaurus? Less than you might think. No fossils are known, apart from the original pair of hands; its body plan has to be pieced together from speculation, based on the features of its relatives. If its hands were in proportion to its relatives’, Therizinosaurus was the largest of the therizinosaurs - over thirteen feet tall and thirty feet long. It likely lived a similar lifestyle to the giant ground sloths of the Eocene and Pliocene periods, shearing tree branches with their massive claws. (Some of its smaller relatives may have dug in the ground for food, or even broken open termite nests to feed on the insects inside.)
Whatever their role in the ecology of Cretaceous Mongolia, therizinosaurs were weird and wonderful animals. What I wouldn’t give to visit them in their native time and place, and watch these giant sloth-turkeys majestically waddle across the prehistoric scene!
hey so do we just submit it or something? Anyways here’s a nonbinary edmontosaurus annectens! I don’t really know what’s going on with the feet forgive me I’m just a 13 year old who really likes dinosaurs
No honestly it’s quite good especially for a young burgeoning paleoartist! If you would like pointers I have a few but honestly great job :D
Othnielosaurus spent her days darting from fern to fern, trying to find cover from sauropod feet as big as she was and from the searching eyes of a gruesome lineup of contemporary carnivores. Late Jurassic USA, Morrison Formation.
As far as outdated and antiquated paleoart/dinosaur designs go, what's your favorite?
The depth of my love for paleoart from the 19th century knows no limits.
This image, titled “Duria Antiquior” (”Ancient Dorset”), was painted in 1830 by English geologist Henry De la Beche, and was the first piece of art to reconstruct prehistoric creatures using evidence from fossils, effectively making it the first piece of true paleoart. Even today, we can recognize these animals as icthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and pterosaurs.
De la Beche’s vision of Jurassic-period England was a hellish nightmare, a continuous bloodbath of bug-eyed demons gnashing one another’s flesh. I absolutely love it. It’s not up to modern scientific standards, but aesthetically, it’s a dream world.
Henry De la Beche was also the first paleoartist to propose theoretical sentient descendants of prehistoric reptiles - albeit in a joking way. Take that, Dale Russell! The caption reads as such:
A Lecture. “You will at once perceive,” continued Professor Icthyosaurus, “that the skull before us belonged to some of the lower order of animals; the teeth are very insignificant, the power of the jaws trifling, and altogether it seems wonderful how the creature could have procured food.”
De la Beche’s lampooning of the popular view of extinct reptiles is still applicable today.
And paleoart from this time didn’t just depict aquatic reptiles so amazingly. Take a look at Edouard Riou’s 1863 illustration, “La terre avant le deluge” (”The Earth Before the Flood”), depicting a battle between Iguanodon and Megalosaurus.
Even though this was scientifically accurate by the standards of the time, the scientist in me disapproves of the lizardly depictions of the animals. Aesthetically, though, isn’t this brilliant? It continues the tradition of Henry De la Beche’s art, depicting ancient Earth as a constant battleground between reptilian behemoths, and sets these battles in the prototypical “primordial world” - the setting people still think of when they think of dinosaur times. Look at those gloomy, foggy cycads! Makes me want to put on a pith helmet and go look for a stegosaur to bag with my blunderbuss.
(Edouard Riou, by the way, is best known for providing the original illustrations to several of Jules Verne’s novels, including Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Spend some time on Google and familiarize yourself with his work!)
The final image I’ll post here is Edward Drinker Cope’s 1869 illustration of the theropod Dryptosaurus (then known as Laelaps) confronting a pair of Elasmosaurus, while a cheerful-looking turtle and what I’m told are supposed to be hadrosaurs frolic in the background. Literally everything about how these animals are reconstructed is incorrect, and yet that’s part of the charm. As a scientific illustration, this earns nothing but disapproval from me, but as an almost romantic depiction of a lost world, where monsters roamed the foggy forests and soaked the seas with the blood of battle, it’s something I can 100% get behind. (It’s no more of a fantasy as plucked-chicken dromaeosaurs swarming onto a hapless hadrosaur like a land-going pack of piranha, anyway.)
Do yourself a favor. Look up some paleoart from the 19th century. Go back to that lost world. Have a real adventure.