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

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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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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.

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Yet another for the African Saga…


Spinosaurus & Ouranosaurus FFContinuing the Ouranosaurus saga… this time with a new restoration of Spinosaurus being groomed by several pterosaurs. I have done some sexually dimorphic spinosaurs for a change… mostly represented by the different coloration. Some people have pointed out that I reconstruct Spinosaurus in a very different way from Jurassic Park… main difference is that the Jurassic Park one is a monster and this one is based in real skeletal material… I might be proven wrong one day, but those jaws were made for fishing!  They were as slender as any Suchomimus or Baryonyx with  admittedly bigger conical teeth but they couldn’t be more different from the T. rex ones! I still find incredible that Spinosaurus could have ever been pitted into a fight against Tyrannosaurus rex… but I still find more incredible and painful to watch TV shows like Monsters Resurrected  in which it wast portrayed as a monstrous killing, car-smashing machine! So I’ve tried to portray it in a really peaceful scene for a change.

And here’s  another zebra Oranosaurus that was made part of the show!OurFB

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The African Dinosaurs Saga continues…

Sarcosachus & OuranosaurusBOr could I call it my continuous searching for staying as close as possible to Nature? Everything started as an imaginative exercise a long time ago for the Holtz/Rey/Random House Encyclopaedia… now I wanted to go a little further. When I was collaborating with the series Walking With Dinosaurs a decade a go I came about with the idea for an “Okapi” Iguanodon skin pattern (that actually made it to the series)… now it was time to have an enhanced “Zebra” Ouranosaurus.  The idea was that in a crowded herd, the pattern would make them look like an indistinguishable mass and the individuals almost disappear. I played with several options before finally inserting several in the soon-to-be released Spinosaurus landscape. Wild speculation perhaps, but I like to draw parallels and keep my dinosaurs as close to living animals as possible… and we know what happens with convergent evolution oddities! Since this was conceived for the new Anusuya Chinsamy‘s project on African prehistoric life, paying homage to an African scene was next… and it was solved with Sarcosuchus as the possible predator! By the way…The indeterminate ornithopods are only ornamental… and there’s more to come in the African saga…OurFB Our2F

Posted in African Prehistory, crocodilians, Dinosaur Movies, Dinosaurs, hadrosaurs, Ornithischians, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dinosnores at the NHM again…!

Bringing Dinosaurs Back To Life goes to the British Museum of Natural History…and late at night!P1040057P1040066 P1040060

Approximately once every two months people gather in their hundreds to have dinner and spend the whole night being entertained (sleeping bags and  all) with natural history events in the sumptuous surroundings of the Natural History Museum in London… It is called “DINOSNORES (for grown-ups)”.

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I have taken part of this extraordinary and peculiar soiree for the third time. I have to admit that the first time was an unnerving experience (as I didn’t know what audience to expect and what would they be expecting from me)… but with every  session that passes I have to admit:  I am enjoying it immensely!

P1040078P1040077 I have only ONE hour to teach people  basics on how to draw three dinosaurs together with a bit of dinoimage history… needless to say this can’t be a truly serious masterclass since we need much more time for that… but everybody seems to have a real interest, asking the right questions and enjoying the lesson very much… and since it is after dinner, everything happens over a glass of wine or two!  Here are some of the drawings produced with their proud authors.P1040081 P1040086 P1040083 P1040087 P1040075 P1040074 P1040071

The results are self-evident. The least I can say is that (based on my first question the other night) a good number of students that came  with still the notion that an iguana was closely related to or is  somewhat resemblant of what a dinosaur looked like,  went out of the session with their prejudices changed… if not shattered forever.  By the reactions   at the end -and the fact that most of the new artists  were enjoying themselves and didn’t want to leave!-  I left satisfied and with the notion that somehow my work  had been not just simple entertainment !

I have to specially thank Christina de Poitiers  (the new boss!) and also Chesca Wilton for their dynamic and effective coordination and to my partner Carmen Naranjo for very effective coaching… And  of course to everybody in the audience and organisation for their support and enthusiasm. Hopefully see some of you next time!

For more information go to http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/after-hours//dino-snores-grown-ups/

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