What happens when Spinosaurus runs ashore…

Spinosaurus WalrusB
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

Spinosaurus Walrus SKB

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! 

Posted in African Prehistory, Spinosaurs, Theropods, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

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

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!


P1040657 P1040648 P1040645 P1040644P1040677

Posted in NHM Events, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in African Prehistory, Dinosaurs, Spinosaurs, Theropods | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Hatching The Past in the Catalonian Pyrenees!

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!


    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”.



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


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

Posted in ceratopsians, tyrannosaurs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

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!

Deino singleB

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

The Time Is Now: Finally Deinocheirus!

deinocheirus_claws_webRemember this? Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska** , the discoverer of Deinocheirus (the Terrible Claw) in awe of her own discovery…How many times have we stood and stared in awe of this fossil, imagining what the rest of the animal would look? Comparative anatomy deductions  and guesswork are all too good but can never compare to the real thing… as the events in the last weeks news have demonstrated.

Five decades after casts of  those enigmatic gigantic arms started making their way to museums all over the world, the rest of the body is being finally released…  even if it is so in (bureaucratic) stages. It is not until recently that the skull has been re-integrated to the rest of the body (that itself was a stellar presentation at SVP last year)! The full story promises to be yet another paleontological odyssey .
We all saw it in the internet: the fossils are finally being rightfully returned  to Mongolia, like. See http://www.infomongolia.com/ct/ci/7787

And well… here  is my tentative (but closer than ever!) take at what the animal might have looked like.

Deinocheirus FinalBDetails  of the skull might not be quite right since it has not been properly published, but I will modify or add them at a later stage if necessary.  In the meantime this is the closest I could get to the real thing as shown in  the “devolution ceremony” pictures… it was irresistible! I’m excited about the new discoveries of massive sauropods in Argentina… but this cannot compare!

In my latest  Dinosnores session at the Natural History Museum in London, I  inserted this illustration as an extreme example of the extremes Dinosauria achieved in its 169 million years of evolution… and think that there is still the image of a lizard as representative of  what “a Dinosaur” looks in some people’s imagination! How far-out from that can this be?

Don’t be fooled by the distant similarity to a hadrosaur head that the recent pictures of the skull show… this is an Ornithomimid*! Only a really massive one. A person would barely reach the knee of the animal. As more graphic material  from the skull is released I’ll be able to apply the final touches. The back “hump” will be restored as a sail by many… but not by me.. Those elongated neural spines  in the hip-back area remind me much more a bison or a camel than a “sail”. So I did the analogy accordingly… a massive dinosaurian “camel”. The famous,  massive arms became small compared to the rest of the body. What you are seeing here is the preliminary version of one of the protagonists of my next piece of artwork.  You can forget or take as “relics” any other artwork that I have done regarding Deinocheirus before (and that surprisingly are still circulating in the internet)…At last we can start thinking in a closer-than-ever accurate  take at a veritable new dinosaur marvel that we have all been wiring to see for for so long! The rest will be NEXT…!

*According to Dr. Thom Holtz preliminary analyses makes this animal close to Garudimimus and Beishanlong. So it would be a “garudimimid” (or rather, bringing back the older name, a deinocheirid)

**Corrected from my previous assertion that it was Halszka Osmolska. It is indeed Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska instead.

Posted in Deinocheirids, ornithomimosaurs, Theropods, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments