Greetings from this Blog!

…just in case there’s anybody I couldn’t reach!  It’s been quite a year… beware of straying asteroids in the next one… and thanks for keeping communication open!Card1B

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Fossils For Africa is out… and not all are dinosaurs of course!

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This little Euparkeria (revised  by John Hutchinson  and Dave Hone, both of whom I also thank here) is one of the several new illustrations featured in the new Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan  book “Fossils For Africa” that I have been advertising here for a while… it also has the first time ever printed version of my “new” Spinosaurus and some other novelties like this Carcharodontosaurus with Ornithocheirus prize, Patalititan titanosaurs included!. I was inspired by a skeletal diorama that I have seen recently… only that the diorama was an Irritator not this gigantic carnosaur!Carcharo-ornithoFNeedles to say Fossils for Africa is an erudite, popular treaty on African prehistory (as any publication Dr. Chinsamy-Turan is involved with). Although well printed, I was somewhat disappointed of the size and specially the size of the illustrations, so don’t expect lavish, big illustrative displays… it is however a more  specialist venture and has >more< illustrations  than my previous effort with her in Famous Dinosaurs of Africa, so I throughly recommend it!

The book can be ordered  from the Cambridge University Press website http://cup.co.za/products/fossils-for-africa

Here are a couple of outtakes that didn’t make it to the last round…  new versions of Majungasaurus and SuvhomimusMajungaFSuchomimus F

 

Posted in abelisaurs, African Prehistory, Carnosaurs, Dinosaurs, Spinosaurs, Tetrapods, Theropods, Titanosaurs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

New and diverse uses for Microraptor at the SVP meeting, Berlín 2014.


MicronewBDSCN0171I have a bit of collaboration stories with Scott Foss… mammal guy he is, years ago he commissioned me to do this humorous piece to celebrate what a really oversized Entelodont pig would do to a T. rex…wishful thinking on his part, I know! But gladly he has change sides… only for now!DSC02781

Scott has gone MICRORAPTOR this time! I took the opportunity in SVP in Berlin this year to present  his  new commission: a new recreation of Microraptor to both him and his beautiful and charming partner Merb Jones. She surprised me with the painting already tattooed on her shoulder! Yes… the results were quite beautiful, and in the flesh!  According to the lucky lady, the session was not painful and done by a consummate tattoo artist that did everything in only a four hour non-stop sitting! Never expected such a likeness in of my wok in a tattoo!… Even the colours were impeccable.  I was graciously invited  to sign it!
IMG_6906IMG_6908DSCN0150Berlin SVP fun, but it was even more so because thanks to Jakob Vinther and Nick Longrich (that generously shared their new ideas and evidence with us), my vision of  raptor plumage and Microraptor itself is going to be changed forever… coincidentally that includes Archaeopteryx!

Watch the developments regarding our collective Archaeopteryx exhibition in association with Silver Plume Exhibitions that will be out and about next year. Watch this space in the near future!1797430_641459625975104_8664623235021118778_n

 

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The 2014 Mexican Experience!

The Mexican ExperienceB

I bet nobody would be expecting >this< as this year’s “Mexican Experience”; but this is one of many surprises I’ve got from the talented dino-modelers that are located in Mexico. You may know him from previous posts: Aldebran Castañeda‘s fully pose able “Fomisaurs” are becoming the rage and he is just getting better and better.  I will be able to talk more about the making of his engineering marvels soon! In the meantime let me present you our latest collaboration: Deinocheirus! You might recognise it from my previous posts and it was a celebration of it final release in the  well reputed Nature  magazine. I will have to  modify a bit the lower jaw of my reconstructions)… but generally it still holds pretty well!

Deinocheirus & TarbosauruslBYou might also recognise this small wonder… another pose able and absolutely stunning Psittacosaurus.DSC01746A magnificent Allosaurus… and several views of the Deinocheirus… simply marvellous!

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P1050158Here I am again with Aldo…the  Fomisaurus master!

But Mexico was not just about Fomisaurs. I managed to exchange gifts with another couple of  well reputed, excellent modellers: the worldwide famous Héctor Munive  (Tzipactli Splintersaurus) and Ricardo Servín Pichardo… in our exchange of gifts, both gave me marvels ready to be customised by me and will be subject of another article in this blog in the near future.P1050167 P1050163P1050214 P1050150

Mexico was hard work, but fulfilling to a great extent. From the schools of Metepec, Toluca to my old home, the National University in Mexico City (UNAM) , the audiences were hungry for any palaeontological  event. I continue to “preach” the change of the image in the Dinosauria even if we had have two classes of fourth and sixth grade primary school pupils all mixed together. Here are the pupils from Metepec that I visited the previous week.P1050047 P1050045 P1050044 P1050041 P1050038

I was fortunate to be able to share some joy as every year with the  (needless to say) well informed, great students and paleoart fans of René Hernández and Angel Ramírez from the UNAM. I paid special tribute to René in the exchange of gifts as can be seen in the pictures. He took us to the faculty’s lab to show us some specimens… there were many that were mostly finds from the north of Mexico. Some of them still unpublished but bound to amaze everybody on the day of their future release.

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The day at the University was, as usual, a  celebration. My special thanks go  to  the dedicated teachers, paleoartists and fans like Lulú Martín that made my stay unforgettable as usual.

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And all despite that at the time everybody was still mourning the assassination and disappearance of over 40 teaching students by the obscure forces that keep a good part of Mexico in permanent state of terror and uncertainty.  Only together we can change this one day!

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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…

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! 

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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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