Sabadell and Tremp. The Dinosaur adventure continues in Catalonia!


P1040892Spectacular sauropod footprints, part of the “Dinoturbation” at the locality of Orcau, near Tremp.

After the success of Hatching the Past in Coll de Nargó, Peter Norton moved the exhibition to the lavish surroundings of the exquisite Espai Cultural of Sabadell (nearby Barcelona). This venue has enhanced the effect of the exhibition to an extent that is seldom achieved.  So everybody was real pleased. The exhibition continues until the 11 of January. So far, the daily attendance has been without precedent in Sabadell!P1040679P1040739 P1040740P1040741P1040736P1040731P1040726P1040725Here Angel Galobart and myself are giving an opening tour to the media communicators and authorities of Sabadell.
P1040715The event was well documented and the opening was massively attended. I even managed  to give a talk at L’ Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont .SabadellBP1040698

And if all that was not enough, two weeks later I had to give another talk and attend the important meeting “Reconstructing the Terrestrial End-Cretaceous Paleo environments in Europe” at the city of Tremp.10636307_10203845176868167_2913566436241994022_n The contingent of attendants was quite international and included Fabio Marco Dalla VecchiaDavid  Fastovsky and Steve Brusatte (all held important talks). Of course it was an opportunity for the world to know  Catalan researchers like Josep Marmi and  Albert G. Selles, participants as speakers and authors of papers and posters.

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The talks and posters(mostly about the Geology of the paleoenvironments in Catalonia) were accompanied with exhaustive field trips under the wise guidance of Oriol Oms and Bernat Vila, among others.

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At the Museu de la Conca Della at Isona, I found these two jewels to illustrate  how fast the image of the dinosaur has been changing all these years… the zone is famous for its many discoveries of mid-sized to small island-bound Lambeosaur remains. Compare  the excellent modern reconstruction by Ramón López (following instructions by Fabio Dalla Vecchia, Bernat Vila, Rodrigo Gaete and Angel Galobart), with…well, the past… a past that definitively had a sense of honour at least.!P1040830P1040833P1040837 P1040838

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angel is showing us here some of the hadrosaur remains in the crypt of the museum with Novella, Francesco, Victor and myself.

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Nano-lambeosaurs…Perfect small counterparts from the ancient Cretaceous European archipelago  of their continental giant equivalents! I fell in love with  this sculpture… extremely vivid… pretty impressive!

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Needless we were having a really good time with the gang of paleo-people… my services were required to illustrate what the field trip, Tremp and the spectacular surroundings were all about. Albert and Bernat hold the canvas!
P1040875 P1040876 P1040879But for me an epiphanic moment came when we arrived to the spectacular dinoturbation at Orcau. Yet another fantastic footprint site… and, unlike the even more spectacular, but distant footprints in the steep cliffs of of Fumanya, these are perfect to feel the closeness of the dinosaurs. It feels as if they were still walking by somewhere near!
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P1040896The main event for me was the talk of Reviviendo Dinosaurios at the Council House of Tremp, that also hosted an inventive small, well presented and above all well printed selection of Paleoart, organised by Angel Galobart.
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P1040901These traditional, vintage,  giant puppets “Els Gigants” are typical Catalonian and  take part in many Major Feasts of the village. There were also giant heads… we did feel quite at home there!

 

 

A highlight of  my visit  was the meeting with these two excellent Paleoart Catalonian budding stars… the sisters Aina  and Agnes Amblas Canals.

The talk was presented by Angel and the Councillor Silvia Romero, and was attended by a good number of members of the public. My aim is to make people aware and understand  the constant recent changes in the look of the Dinosauria.  Its a trip through the ages of dinosaur iconography, my role in it, and how prejudice has been many times a deterrent of the progress of science in the understanding of the Dinosaur,,, Even if I don’t feel myself a truly “professional ” speaker, with such attentive audience I was well rewarded. The feedback was excellent and I learned much here.

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And yes… the end had to be party time and an excellent dinner!Here I am with the star organisers: Oriol Oms, Angel Galobart, Bernat Vila and Josep Marmi … for some reason Soledad de Esteban Trivigno was not in this picture, but surely she deserved to be  too… she was the “mother” organiser for all of us!

P1040918P1040921 And if that wasn’t enough…the dinner was complemented with extraordinary rosemary ice-cream toppled with choco-dinosaurs and  by the spectacular antics of Antoine Bercovici, who showed us his very famous and remarkable Microraptor tattoos! Art and pain in the name of science! Check it out  at http://inspiredtattooportraits.com/portrait-3-antoine-english/

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We would like to thank the professionalism, generosity and hospitality of our hosts, especially Angel Galobart, Soledad de Esteban Trivigno, Oriol Oms, Josep Marmi, Bernat Vila, Albert G. Selles, Víctor Fondevilla, Novella Razzolini and Pere Anadon.

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What happens when Spinosaurus runs ashore…

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The continuing Spinosaurus saga has reached its peak with Paul Sereno and National Geographic’s final, detailed description of the new version of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus.  And things just couldn’t get weirder.

Are we witnessing the first ever “cetacean-like” dinosaur? It has the bone density of a hippopotamus, but neither the shape of the body or the limbs. It was an aquatic animal that supposedly could walk on land… but how? Seeing the mind-boggling limb proportions, I’m not convinced  of all the lavish reconstructions I’m seeing around, and specially those illustrations that pretend to have it easily walking on land… the hind limbs are extremely small and , by themselves, I don’t see how they could have withstand  the incredibly long horizontal body and tail on solid ground… On top of that, those forelimbs are not for quadrupedal walking (neither knuckle walking as it has been suggested)… So how did it managed to walk on land? I have a true obsession to try and make any reconstructions as anatomically believable as possible… and have come with this work in progress I’m presenting now: a combination of ancient whale-like animal and a seal… Don’t forget the dimensions (15 meters long)…could it be we are seeing the first dinosaur that actually was in the process of evolving into a “whale dinosaur”?

For me this only stresses the fact that Dinosauria is a “Class” just like mammals are!  The common root and immense diversity of these animals can’t be denied!

See a poignant article and discussion at Scott Hartman’s blog http://www.skeletaldrawing.com/home/theres-something-fishy-about-spinosaurus9112014

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Here’s the original sketch as I started working on. l’m using all the available  material, so, as Thom Holtz and Scott Hartman have wisely stated,  unless  something is wrong with the limb proportion (the arms are after all a composite)… well what you see is what you get and  we have to abide by the current evidence… This may change of course, but in the meantime, I don’t regret the destruction of yet another Spielbergian-oriented fantasy… and with a monster even more incredible than any fantasy! 

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The Art of Dinosnores

P1040662It happened almost in an instant… time flew, and suddenly… we had this marvellous stuff hanging on the walls! If this can be done in just forty minutes of FUN (including a talk),,, just imagine what we could do in a proper, lengthy dinosaur workshop! Yes, I’m talking about the most recent Dinosnores for Adults in the Natural History Museum in LondonP1040669P1040668P1040670
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To boost the confidence of the great people in attendance we are now exhibiting their work in an official  billboard (an idea of Eszter Dobos) … I must say there were some real art talents, but most of all, people that listened and absorbed the experience… Remember the popular description of Tyrannosaurus rex as a “shark on stilts” ?… some people even took the fun literally…just look at this  shark on stilts… now it’s even feathered!P1040676

I’m thankful  to everyone involved in this latest workshop (I couldn’t get the name of everyone, but if any of you is here, please drop me a note!… I’ll be happy to include your name)… next one promises to be even better!

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That was then… this is NOW!

Spinosaurus SerenoBPaul Sereno has released his new version of Spinosaurus… the details are still to be disclosed, but by what I saw in the little picture of his new mounted skeleton, this animal is even weirder than we ever thought, so I have acted accordingly and  drastically modified my old version, making is more “current”. I’m doing this rather conservatively… I mean, it is still a sail in my reconstruction… I could have made it a proper Bactrian camel-like dinosaur… but I think the spinal processes are too high to do a bison or camel-like reconstruction like I did with Deinocheirus!  However…I still would do it  if pushed just a little bit harder… in the meantime, I think it makes sense if we considering that Ichthyovenator also seems to have a deep gap in the middle of the sail! Where Paul Sereno got all the extra material to reconstruct such an incredible sail and neck is still not clear.  I’m probably more intrigued by the stiff neck. Hopefully more will be known in the future when Paul publishes everything.

By the way, it seems that this artwork was right on time and will make it to the new African Prehistoric Life book by Anusuya Chinsamy!  Please do campare it with the one I published a few blogs ago…Who can now say that Palaeontology is not an edge-of-the-seat thrilling ride?Spinosaurus_Inline

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Hatching The Past in the Catalonian Pyrenees!

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For the first time in a long time, Hatching The Past, this time known as: “L’ECLOSIÓ DEL PASSAT: OUS I CRIES DE DINOSAURES” , arrives home. Yes, the ESPAI DINOSFERA DE COLL DE NARGÓ in the Catalonian Pyrenees boasts the privilege of actually being the greatest egg site  in Europe… what better place to host this remarkable exhibition!

P1040556As usual, the installation hero  was Peter Norton… curator extraordinaire  of the exhibition and the man responsible for bringing Hatching The Passt to Europe.

P1040525… and this time he had the special help of no other than Charlie Magovern, discoverer of the famous “Baby Louie” Gigantoraptor hatching inside the egg while preparing it. He together with Flo Magovern are Stone Company, originators of the exhibition. It is difficult to think that such an exhibition was mounted by these two folks alone and in such small space of  time.

P1040528Everybody agreed that the small museum building acquired a new dimension by their efforts (even the designer of the building himself told me so!)… and the scenery was simply stunning!P1040515P1040481 P1040484

P1040505 P1040516 P1040508 P1040517 P1040495The exhibition  double whammy (Coll de Nargó now and Sabadell – a town nearby Barcelona-in September) is happening thanks to the efforts of  the team of Angel Galobart, head of research of the Mesozoic at the Catalonian Institute of Palaeontology Miquel Crusafont.  Angel has been in charge of many an excavation in the zone of the Coll. They have protecting the sites from the odd act of vandalism… and needless to say he certainly knows how to find a dinosaur egg: even while we were there he  and Pere Figuerola  casually found some egg shells in situ and in front of our very eyes!

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    I was pleased to see one of the many sites ornamented with excellent cut-out metal silhouettes  to remind us what would we be seeing there in the Cretaceous… a titanosaur:

P1040563 And a beautiful dromaeosaur pair attacking a hadrosaur… anatomical seal of approval from me!P1040557But the opening  and the talk that followed were my main tasks.P1040540Framed by my oviraptors, here I was at the opening of the proceedings having the honour of representing Gondwana Studios. From the left: Angel Galobart, Josep Ramon Ibarz, Benito Fité (Mayor of Coll de Nargó), Josep Borrell and yours truly . Not only was important for the small village, it was quite an event for the whole region and the occasion was seized in order to promote Coll de Nargó as an important touristic landmark! How far new dinosaur discoveries can take even the smallest village? In the seventies and eighties, Catalonia and Spain as a whole had virtually no importance as a purveyor of Dinosaur sites of the world… now they are really relevant! Look at these eggs in cross section that can be seen in situ!P1040568And needless to say… the real thing is kept  in  exhibition as yet another attraction to the Espai Dinosfera… a clutch of perfectly preserved titanosaur  eggs. Not many skeletal remains in the area, but many, many eggs… and interestingly enough, they belong  to mid-size species similar to the saltasaurs portrayed in the Hatching The Past exhibition.P1040513P1040536

The exhibition opened and the kids were the first to flock in,,,, I took the opportunity to have some 3D fun with friends… here’s Monica Ferré and her son, Bernat,  checking out  “Dinosaurs In Your Face”.

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I was really looking forward to repeat my experience in Asturias with the talk “Bringing Dinosaurs Back To Life” (here known as “Reviviendo Dinosaurios”). The museum is not massive (in fact now is entirely dedicated to Hatching The Past), so we had to give the talk in one of the exhibition halls… more than sixty people crammed the space and it was quite a success! The people were  attentive and responsive… hopefully I  have changed the mind of more than one about the old image of dinosaurs.Here is the introduction by Pere Figuerola

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For some video info here’s a link to Catalonian TV: http://www.tv3.cat/videos/5169491/Telenoticies-Barcelona-11072014

Our thanks are especially extended to (among many) Mar Gómez (Peter’s partner), Pere Figuerola, Monica Ferré and specially Angel Galobart for their invaluable support and hospitality. Needless to say, yet another complete and successful experience thanks to the efforts of Gondwana Studios and the Palaeontological Institutions in Catalunya… and we are all grateful for that! P1050807

Posted in Hatching The Past, Museum Displays, Palaeontology Meetings, Sauropods, tyrannosaurs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cheap Thrills!

DSC01654Visiting your local boot sale in London is almost always guarantee that you’ll find some new dinosaur toy rejects… that’s what happened  couple weeks ago: spent £2 and got a full bag of selected dinotoys… among which I found a pretty accurate (unknown make to me at least) Triceratops that gave me an idea… Everytime I see something that is close of what I expect I have to go further.  This time I did what I always wanted to do to many other of my collectible models but had never dare! For the first time here it is in all its glory: Triceratops with my interpretation of the new skin  topography! DSC01655It has been extremely fun and very challenging; I really think this is the closest I could get to really get the impression of the new, spiky Triceratops everybody is talking about… and is based on pictures of the real thing! I managed to get even some hypothetical tail spikes reminiscent of its distant relative,  Psittacosaurus.DSC01651

DSC01679But what would be of Triceratops without it’s nemesis T. rex? Yes, I had to do something similar to Tyrannosaurus and for that  I selected my already customised and modified Kaiyodo model that luckily was precisely at the same scale as the Triceratops

DSC01658Using every possible skin and feathery material I came about this drastically modernised version of T. rex… not quite like my 2 dimensional artwork… but possible nevertheless!  Obviously I faced many difficulties getting everything together and making it mildly believable (some of you may not agree!). DSC01662DSC01665DSC01668DSC01664Now the updated couple will be facing each other for posterityDSC01676DSC01674

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The Deinocheirus Saga continues…

Deino newBDeinocheirus herd being stalked by a Tarbosaurus (here clad in my new feathered incarnation). This is definitively not my last take on this…  I have become rather obsessively interested in the (to my eyes at least) humped monster and spent many hours in these illustrations! Please take in consideration that the arms alone are two meters long… and as John Hutchinson noted,  framed by the body mass they (and the head) look positively puny!

I have been trying some head ornaments of these  animals for a while … noting the size of the antorbital fenestra I added it as a source of inflatable colourful displaying possibilities; needless to say I was inspired partly by the dulia, the inflatable throat sac in camels.

This illustration may change in the future, but for the time I’m having real fun with it! The next step will be a close up of the head… awaiting corrections in the future but al`ready in the making.

In the meantime I can almost hear him…he looks positively menacing!

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Posted in Deinocheirids, ornithomimosaurs, tyrannosaurs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 6 Comments