The Dinosaur rEvolution in New Zealand continues…

The rEvolution is getting closer to what it should be!

It’s taken many outings but the way I look at this now, it is as close as the original I conceived as it could be (for the moment). It is really difficult to “marry” the concept to a different hall every time. And on top of that add the very inevitable, popular (albeit not of my complete liking) animatronics. But the skeletons furnished by Peter Norton and the murals DO work together. The drama is palpable for the first time in Whirinaki Whare Taonga (to my taste at least).

A controversial exhibition to say the least… Ornithischian vs Theropoda, skin warriors!

In the meantime in Mexico…

I frankly couldn’t be happier! A prestigious Mexican magazine I’ve been collecting all my life, specialised in Mexican native Archaeology has chosen my Tlatolophus, the talking duck-billed crowned jewel of Mexican Dinosaurs, restoration as its first-ever Paleontology cover. Thank you all!

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The Big T. IS Finally out! The secret crown jewel of Mexican Dinosaurs is with us.

Presenting the final version of the Big T. (Tlatolophus galorum) above. It has taken Angel Ramírez Velasco and Ricardo Servín Pichardo several painstaking years to publish this marvel. A perfect, complete skull of this Parasurolophine hadrosaur, similar to but at the same time completely different from Parasaurolophus… and about the same length! They had the fortune to tenaciously persevere in the dig and find the skull UNDER a bunch of other parts of the skeleton…The triangular crest is a marvel and the uncrushed front view is quite narrow. The frontal view was discussed, since it was quite tricky to portray… the authors and researchers involved are: Angel Alejandro Ramírez Velasco, Felisa Aguilar, René Hernández, José Luis, Marisol Lara, Jesús Alvarado and José López, the discoverer.Ricardo Servín is working on the model of the skull of the dinosaur and deserves a special mention, even if he is not officially in the paper.

It is indeed a wholly Mexican Dinosaur researched and presented to the world by a completely Mexican team. I’m extra proud of having been invited to do a reconstruction.

I followed the meticulous instructions of Angel in this reconstruction as you might be able to see… and I thank very much the opportunity they gave me two years ago to actually play a little with the original specimen… congratulations not only for this find but for having the patience, expertise and perseverance needed to have the paper officially released at last! Hadrosaur fans, eat you heart out!

Link to the paper here:

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Pathologies… in the waiting!

Herrerasaurus attacked by Saurosuchus

There’s nothing more frustrating, as every artist or palaeontologist knows, than a bunch of oven ready pieces rotting away in our vaults without a publisher helping them to see the light!…

Those were the pre=pandemic days! Almost two years after I announced the Dinosaur Pathologies book, that would involve the likes of Ricardo Servin Pichardo, Angel Ramírez and Ruben Molina Perez among others, this very promising book has never made it to the printers and is still searching for a proper publishing house…

I’m still very much hoping that that this material will come to light some day… I’m sharing here just a taster of what’s in the vault being constantly refurbished… and there are many more!! In part it has been good the wait because it has allowed me to keep updating the artwork as new modifications have been gradually required.

So this is yet a renewed invitation to any takers!

PS. And just you wait when Angel Ramirez gets his new paper published! Many will be astonished… there’s a lot of rumbling under the Paleo-surface that is not only about new Mexican dinosaurs or there illustrious Spinosaurus... Cristiano Dal Sasso has also promised hot news about “him” very shortly!

Injured Dilophosaurus getting even MORE injured.

Ceratosaurus and Camptosaurus
Camelotia attacked by Teratosaurus.

Acrocanthosaurus accident with titanosaur…

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New Edition of Dinosaurs of Africa arrived today!

Just IN! Glad to report that Anusuya ChinsamyTuran has updated her popular book, carrying all the weight of the edition herself! Very glad to continue to participate in her great work adding some new artwork… obviously most of the old artwork are still there, but things like Nyasasaurus and new, updated versions of Spinosaurus have been added…

This is mostly a handsome, popular book for kids with a lot of updated information and done with lots ion love… Dinosaurs

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Never Try To Bite More Than You Can Chew.

Maastrichtian in Dakota. A couple of young Dakotaraptor decide to try their luck and hike an adult Triceratops… or a relative. Is Dakotaraptor for real? There have been so many doubts but I also doubt that Utahraptor was the only giant Raptor.

So, since I always fancied a confrontation between two dumb oversized birds and a tank, I had to select animals that >might< have been contemporary. The sight of lions harassing hippos for territory sparked some ideas.. But hippos don’t have a three horned face and spiked armoured skin!

The theory is that Dakotaraptor, if real and no more elements of its skeleton are assigned to some other genus or even some other animal (as we know the furcula was eliminated, as was later found to be a bone that belonged to a turtle), was more gracile than Utahraptor. So the agility and temper might have been there.

No fight for territory would compensate for the fact that climbing the heavily armoured charging monster, not taking in consideration the size or the fact that they had to use their whole set of claws to cling to that armour for their lives, probably even getting injured or impaled right there against the ceratopsian skin.

And now that we are here, don’t forget: there are quite a few copies of EXTREME DINOSAURS PART 2, THE PROJECTS still awaiting to be purchased by some lucky people!

If you don’t fancy Amazon or eBay, Enquire within.

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The ongoing Spinosaurus Saga… now a nesting ground.

Faithful to my traditional custom of showing extreme views, I was compelled to do one with Spinosaurus. I had taken several pictures of a then intriguing, spectacular Spinosaurus skull fragment that was on display in Italy many years ago. Unbeknownst to me in those ages, the upper jaw was displayed upside down, as if it were the lower jaw! You can imagine my surprise when years later I discovered that in reality it was the upper jaw.

So what I did was: turn my pictures around and do a full study of how the jaws would look on a full frontal view. The results showed that Spinosaurus, contrary to many depictions including the obvious Jurassic Park one, had a skull that was even narrower than expected, almost gavial-like and that that the conical teeth were splayed outwards. It can be argued that that way it was better suitable for catching fish… But the evidence is not conclusive… many outspreading jaws are not specifically designed for fish-catching. The teeth sere rather big, conical as expected and surprising for any theropod. No wonder the Spinosaurus remains were once considered not to be a dinosaur’s.

Here’s my preliminary study that required quite a few modifications in the final stages. Spinosaurus is a puzzle that is far from being resolved. However, I still stick with the notion that the current evidence we have so far continues to show us a water dwelling-swamp dwelling animal that would be very cumbersome walking on land. It is virtually impossible that this animal would be running around in two legs, despite the current trend that has preference for the Ideal (as much as I’d love to be proven wrong…sorry Scott Hartman!). The hands are oustpread as in any theropod but more so if this animal was adapted for a virtually quadrupedal stance… more evidence is needed!, so this may change any time soon. The little mounds I depicted here are crocodile-like nests. The sauropods in the background are Paralititan

This is an ongoing project that will continue to be modified and show advances as we gather more evidence. This new reconstruction overrides the previous ones , especially in details of the tail. The final product will be shown in full in our future Kickstarter project by Hector Splintersaurus Munive and myself. A nesting ground seems apt since a baby Spinosaurus model is in the making and will be part of the project!

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Ubirajara, the controversy rages on.

At the moment these pictures were happening, I couldn’t post them for obvious reasons… this is Hector “Splintersaurus” Munive and Dahlia Castillo working on the first-ever model of Ubirajara, the strange, protofeathered and exotically ornate Sinosauropteryx-like theropod from Brazil I had reconstructed a while ago and was commenting in the previous post. He was basing this sculpture (soon to be released) on the technical drawing by the authors of the paper, and my own reconstruction…

Interestingly enough, I’ve just got this important article (courtesy of Marcos Pinheiro)

It seems that the publication of such valuable specimen is in trouble after all, and the paper has been withdrawn from Science magazine.

“This type of letter is normal, but usually discussing academic issues. In this case, it was different. In addition to discussing some points about the description of the dinosaur, we asked ethical questions, which are of interest to Brazilian society. The main point is regarding the legality of this fossil being out of the country, ” paleontologist Taissa Rodrigues told Sputnik Brasil.

So what next for Ubirajara? Ruffling feathers is say little… I hope this matter gets settled as soon as possible! I’d very much like to hear the opinions scientific and otherwise from the Brazilian palaeontologists.

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Having Fun with the new, revolutionary Ubirajara jubatus.

A while ago I received a commission regarding a very secret new paper about to be released. A Brazilian specimen’s reconstruction by the team of Dino Frey et al that was simply staggering… basically it looked like a very ornamented version of Sinosauropteryx or Compsognathus . I was very pleased to be selected to do the job, after all Sinosauropteryx or Compsognathus-like dinosaurs are some of my all time favourirtes and my actual “feathered dinosaur” saviour in 1997, when we, the Feathered Gang were all vindicated for the first time on stone…

This time, however, the stone specimen in question was a bit of a mess. Only a mass of protofeathers with two (or more?) protruding long (apparently straight) quills, which location frankly I couldn’t make sense very well as it was very incomplete, disarticulated and quite messy. Quite a lot of imagination was needed to reconstruct it, especially the external integument, that, for me, calls for bright, exotic iridescent colours .

I thought the reconstruction made by the authors was very courageous and I followed it closely. There was an issue though: the straight quills were a dilemma… were they there, where they complete? I started to play with its purported shoulder location. It was to look like a display items similar to the Bird of Paradise, with an extra hump of matted wills along its torso. After several attempts the authors seemed to agree to my last attempt, but after all it wasn’t precise enough for them so it didn’t make it to the finalised paper (link enclosed)

I now have seen the published paper more in detail, but it still seems to me that there are many possibilities for the allocation of those filaments or ornaments… so for simple fun, I’m showing you here the whole process of trying to make an incredible animal believable…. My two favourites are the ones featured on top… but please be my guest: you can select which one you prefer!

And here is the paper… I’m sure it will ruffle some feathers!

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Paleoart in Mexico 2. Metepec and Beyond.

In the previous post I chronicled a bit of the the creative power that Mexico exercises on me and my different collaborations each time we go down there.

Meet some more P-art produced under our shared spell!

Meet Frida Soteno… she might be only 15, but she has already won awards for outstanding art and clay work and is progressing at a breathtaking pace. She got her painting skills mostly from her mom, Blanca Jimenez. Somehow I managed to convert her to paleo art via this excellent notebook that she bound herself … there might be more in the future, who knows?

When her dad Israel Soteno and myself started working on the Spinosaurus jar Metepec style little did we know things were going to get complicated.

Little did we know what would happen when we put the jar in the extremely talented hands of Pichón López and his wife Diana that turned the vase into a masterwork of paleo-surrealism…

Then there’s the Paleo-Mexican food! The workshop of Héctor Splintersaurus Munive was also responsible for these amazing sugar dinosaur skulls and the special Day of the Dead Dinosaur bread (chocolate bones and all!). Velafrons, Labocania and Yehuecauhceratops.

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The Next Project will be coming from Mexico (again).

It was that time of the year, again. There were only two things that made would made us brave the elements and risk everything in these horrible pandemic times: going back to the Soteno family in Metepec and continue my work with Héctor “Splintersaurus” Munive in the Spinosaurus project. soon to be unleashed in Kickstarter! We found that despite everything, Mexico is well prepared regarding the very much needed precautions. We avoided any public transport and every place you go was well sanitised, usage of masks compulsory and our temperature was taken at the entrance of virtually every place.

Besides directly landing and having a fixed base in Metepec, Toluca, our only other outing to Mexico City was when we had the pleasure and privilege to be transported directly to Héctor and Dahlia’s magnificent studio in Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl, a rather alien place for most turists… but hey, we are no tourists in Mexico!

After going through Sebastian‘s emblematic “Coyote” at the entrance of the city (yes, he was an old teacher of mine from San Carlos Academy more than 40 years ago!) we reached Héctor and Dahlia’s workshop…it was a chaotic albeit well organised place where the tools are always ready and the casts abounded everywhere. I even found a whole mural of mine right at the living room!

And yes, we got on directly to a double online session of dinosaur chat AND drawings… unfortunately out of reach of the personal presence of so many dinofans that would have liked to be there… all were absent except perhaps a handful of the greatest, including the mighty Yadira Albor and family with Kinich (a veritable future paleoartist) and the ineffable Isaac Camacho (youngest and greatest dinoexpert ever… every palaeontologist should be scared to lose their jobs to him!) with his mom Jana Ceja. Thanks to Julius Csotonyi for carnotaur inspiration!

Needless to say we got on quickly to premiere a first glance of Héctor’s models for the project. I have already written a good deal as introductory text and all my Spinosaurus sketches and illustrations are going to be featured inside the (probably) 50 page booklet, and posters accompanying Hector’s awesome 1:10 Spinosaurus skull cast.

The project might include, one day, either a full scale Spinosaurus skull or even a great baby Spinosaurus coming out on an egg. Héctor was adamant to get this done based on the hypothetical sketches I’ve already gave him and can be seen in other blogs here. On top of that we had an in situ, step by step casting session of my biggest, better preserved, Spinosaurus tooth I got from Morocco a long time ago, a cast that is going to also be an award included in the project.

This excellent day culminated with a fantastic meal, previewing Hector and Dahla’s new restaurant-in-the-making “Eating With Dinosausrs” previewing of the wonderful Txapataraptor (chicken, what else?) and Deinosuchus Arrachera sandwiches… crocodile bread included!

But it was time to get back to our Soteno family in Metepec and Israel was giving me a hand to finish this awesome Spinosaurs jar, Metepec Style! Israel and I spent a couple of evenings finishing it… a culmination of the Spinosaurus season.

… but little did I know what was going to happen when I took the piece to to be ‘esmaltada” by the extremely talented Pichones Family from Metepec. They went wild! I gave them some instructions as to what could be done with it, but at the end they took the upper hand and finished this masterpiece in their own inimitable style! Take that dinoart lovers… here’s an almost Picasso like rendering of Spinosaurus!

Even the horrid, nightmarish trips wit Iberia were worth the aggravation at the end (They certainly did not cater Txapataraptor in the menu). I thank you Metepec and Mexico once again for making bearable these unbearable times. Hope we’ll meet again soon!

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