Dinosaurios Hechos En México opens in Monterrey (Part 2)… now for real!

7500 visitors in two days can’t be wrong… ! After the preview in my last blog,  we have had the opening of Dinosaurios Hechos En México. As this little photo tour shows,  I think Planetario Alfa and Gondwana Studios have excelled in the set up of this exhibition.20180223_123740_resized03.jpeg05.jpeg

For me, the main aim was to highlight a  the enormous amount  of carefully researched information on Mexican prehistory that most of the Mexican public is not regularly  aware of. There is no arbitrary sampling of dinosaurs here.  Care was taken to name and give credit to all researchers whose discoveries were featured.  Given the circumstances and scope the task was always bound to be incomplete though… but we tried our best to select the elements that would be most popular. And dinosaurs have no competition!  Obviously, the animatronics (as adequate or inadequate as they can be)  and the  trademark of Gondwana Studios (and StoneCo) exhibitions  of adding  playground  sandy areas for children, where they learn to excavate hidden fossil treasures, just add to the popular attraction in the whole.

Casts and fossil material are scarce and difficult to find or borrow.  However,  the murals fill in and interact with the exhibits, guiding you into the world of the main Mexican dinosaurs: Coahuilaceratops (and its animatronic counterpart and skull cast) in its Parras Eden landscape with the hadrosaur Latirhinus.  The Aldama ceratopsoians, Huehuecanauhtlus and Tanycolagreous. Totlmimus and  the (possible) Mexican T. rex.  Agujaceratopattacked by a tyrannosaur and surrounded by nodosaurs and titanosaurs.   We had the fortune to have the skull cast of the best known Mexican hadrosaur Velafrons attacked in the mural by dromeosaurs and given the animatronic treatment too. There is a massive Magnapaulia herd attacked by albertosaurs,  the Parras hadrosaur and the  “Sabinoaurio”. Even Yehuecauhceratops came in two versions: the animatronic one, looking more like Héctor  Rivera-Sylva‘s traditional one, and the mural reconstruction  based on my collaboration with Angel Ramírez.   The contrast of the animatronic tyrannosaur and my own tyrannosaur murals (Labocania with its colourful feathers and  a feathery T. rex against the grey nakedness of its counterpart) couldn’t be more evident here… and is striking. Face to face.  I think it works in a kind of provocative way! Great food-for-thought to tickle the audiences.

If you look carefully even the Mexican heteredontosaur and coelophysid are present. The exhibition harbinger is this fairly well-sized animatronic sauropod (purportedly a titanosaur…) and the exit corridor is surveyed by the only pterosaur of the exhibition.

But what really counts is the public… and the reaction has been massive:  I got news that there were 7500 visitors in only the first weekend. Can we ask for more? The Mexican audiences deserve this and more… impeccable organisation!  Thanks to all of them we can say “mission accomplished!”.

Special thanks to Rosy Bustindui for these great photos…and special thanks also to  Peter Norton of Gondwana Studios and Planetario Alfa that did such great job mounting and printing the murals and making this exhibition a really dignified effort for all the people in Mexico… and at the same time opening an educative space like no other, guiding them right into the enigmatic Mexican Prehistory. Hope to see you all there in October!

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Posted in Casts, ceratopsians, Dinosaur Models, Dinosaurios Hechos En México, Dinosaurs, hadrosaurs, Heterodontosaurs, maniraptora, Mexican Prehistory, Museum Displays, Nodosaur, Ornithischians, ornithomimosaurs, Planetario Alfa, Pterosaurs, Raptors, Sauropods, Theropods, Titanosaurs, tyrannosaurs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And Now… Monterrey, México!

20180223_123740_resized.jpgFor those who have seen them this might not be come as a surprise, but the spectacular way Planetario Alfa in Monterrey and Gondwana Studios are mounting the Mexican Dinosaurs murals, is really a surprise even to me! 20180223_123818_resized

The great opening of Mexican Dinosaurs will be  the 10th of March. It is the product of our efforts this last year, finally on monumental display! There’s going to be more to it that simply the murals… loads of accurate, detailed  information rigorously consulted with some of Mexico’s top palaeontologists.  It will show also some skeletal material and animatronics, but  in the meantime Rosy Bustindui, Manager of Museography from the Planetario Alfa has graciously sent us these sampling pictures of how the massive murals are being mounted.20180223_123939_resized

I bet René Hernández, Angel Ramírez Velasco and Ricardo Servín Pichardo are also going to be pleased. Will have more news and pictures as the exhibition is set and finally completely unveiled… in the meantime: Thank you  Planetario Alfa… outstanding job! We will all see you there in October for what promises to be a good talk.

Posted in Mexican Prehistory, Museum Displays, Planetario Alfa, Proto-mammals, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dinosaur Families Opens in Copenhagen…

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It took two years of brainstorming… And finally they they did it!  Copenhagen is the new site for a fabulous new version of Hatching the Past: http://video.ku.dk/dinosaurfamilier. The Danish team from the National Museum of Natural History  have worked very hard adapting a venerable ancient building (originally the Museum of Geology) notoriously difficult to re-adjust for events like this. But with  the magisterial Scandinavian knowledge of the use of  space and light, they have helped highlight Peter Norton’s Gondwana Studios work. which includes my own, turning the exhibition in yet another different kind of Dinosaur eggs and babies event.

Two days ago I had the privilege to be invited to  attend and talk at the opening, together with (among many others)  the Museum Director Prof. Peter C. Kjaergaard, Head of Exhibitions Dr. Juliette M Frisch, Director of the University of Copenhagen Jesper Olesen. I’m glad I hadn’t lost my voice by then… later I wasn’t that lucky!

Right from the start,  crowds of kids were already colouring some of my own sketches  that I had adapted from the Holtz/Rey Dinosaurs. The Most Complete Encyclopedia… some of them were doing a better job than myself!…

DSC05063 copyWhen the Magovern’s  (Charlie and Flo from StoneCo.) started this exhibition many years ago in Colorado,  I bet they didn’t dream things would go this far! Our friends in Copenhagen also have been specially kind to me and this is the first time I even get to be photo-credited (scary as that might look!)…

The illustrations  became perfectly printed murals once again, as good and as big as any of the previous efforts in Cardiff, London and Glasgow … with some newly requested additions as you can see!

But the greatest reward is seeing all this work so much appreciated by so many kids, They will keep coming every day relishing every minute of the activities… including not only painting dinosaurs but a non-digital, hands-on exhibition, touching the eggs and specimens, something that is very much appreciated in places like Denmark. As you can see my partner Carmen Naranjo was having also a field day there!DSC05058

So THANK YOU Peter C. Kjaergaard, Mogens Trolle, Rikke Sanderhoff Mørch, Christina Ritzl, Søren Ajspur, Finn Storgaard,  Karsten Elmose Vad , Rasmus Jangaard, Jens Astrup, Rikke Riemann, Gert Balslev, Anders Drud and his media team, Bent Lindow, Maja Balle and the kids Vitous and Mingus, Marie Rubæk Holm, Christopher Jacob  Ries  for their care and hospitality …and so many others, specially the people that worked in the design and construction of the new galleries… good job!

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Posted in Dinosaur Familier, Dinosaurs, Hatching The Past, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Swerving across the path of controversy… Sinosauropteryx and Yi Qi.

Yi Qi and Sinosauropteryx New copyWhile we know a lot about Sinosauropteryx, to ‘almost’ even the level of colouration, we don’t know enough about Yi qi, the famous bat-like feathered dinosaur… its remains are not well enough preserved to be certain of many details like the extent and size of the wing membrane  and its flying abilities… was it like a flying squirrel or a bat? For me it remains the proven, real first flying dinosaur but… Could it flap its wings? Scott Hartman tells me he doesn’t think it could fly battering its wings (the humerus proportions and the short deltopectoral crests wreck the leverage of muscles that would power the up and down stroke)… Scott is not even sure that it had bat wings! If it had them he says it instead used its wings to clamber trees in short jumps propelled by the wings… but he can’t be sure because the specimen is incomplete. Same happens with the shape and length of the legs. But one thing is almost for sure, this was not constructed as a flying squirrel because, dinosaurs are constructed differently: they were NO sprawlers, instead they had a combination of erect legs for running while using its arms for something else… like flapping perhaps?Yi Qi and Sinosauropteryx New copy2 So what you see here is a compromise…And, while we are still trying to find morphological solutions and more evidence,  these two animals are for me  yet another excuse to exercise my fascination for feathery colour possibilities. Even if I acknowledge the evidence regarding the “ginger” colouration of Sinosauropteryx (and have changed my previous green versions accordingly), I think there’s much more in dinosaur feathers than reducing them to the current “black, white or ginger” orthodox patterns… nature is never as clear cut, and as this article provided to me by Thom Holtz

https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/how-birds-make-colorful-feathers/

 It stresses, that the melanosome evidence is just a little part of what makes a feather of certain colour… and if you add  that the fact that fossils never show the complete picture, well, you can imagine. The colouration possibilities continue to endlessly fuel our imagination, even if we now have a few more constrains than before. Proof of that is the new rage about Caihong juji, the ‘rainbow dinosaur’(more on that in a future post) The argument regarding colours of dinosaurs (being feathered or not) continues, but as usual, I find my models in nature together with the possibility that even big dinosaurs had colour vision and cannot be compared to mammals… Time will tell! Yi Qi and Sinosauropteryx New copy 3

In the meantime, in preparation to the great opening of  Dinosaur Families (AKA Hatching The Past) in Copenhagen the first of February and my joint talk with Jakob Vinther (also in Copenhagen) at the end of March… my second “Science And Wine” event with my excellent friends there, here I leave you a couple of Yi pi’s frolicking with a feisty Sinosauropteryx…  and a Dinosaur Familier  poster…

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Posted in Birds, Dinosaur colouration, Dinosaurs, Hatching The Past, Raptors, Sinosauropteryx, Theropods, Uncategorized, Yi qi | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Best wishes for 2018

Thank you all friends and followers of this blog for your support in 2017…Postcard 2018 Hats copy… and for those who don’t want celebration hats or anything to do with “holiday seasons”, here’s, by request,  the original version of the illustration for the “postcard”… T. rex might have been a good parent in difficult times too!Tyrannosaurus Mural Baby copy 2

Posted in tyrannosaurs, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

An Impaling Down Jurassic Fern Fields.

Allo-Steg wound project copyImagine yourself walking quietly searching for prey on a field of ferns in the middle of a Jurassic tropical forest. You have good colour vision to spot any unusual coloration in the sea of greens. You discover some  structures raising above the greenery  and approach carefully… but you should have realised (just by the colour) that the row of structures were also warning signs… and the greenery is hiding the spiked end of it. Suddenly you are up in the air with the Stegosaurus stenops spikes lethally puncturing your crotch from underneath!

This fossil was unearthed in Wyoming in 1999. By the look of the abscess Allosaurus must have died of septicemia. For years, and after some discussions with Dr. Bob Bakker (whose reconstruction of the “accident” is well known),  I have been trying to figure out and alternate vision of what on earth could have caused the actual a thin Allosaurus pubis  punctured with such precision, not from the side (as I would have expected from an attack of Stegosaurus) but from under, right in the crotch like a modern bullfighter.. The  keratinous covering of the spikes of Stegosaurus should  have made them extremely sharp to  penetrate with such accuracy.  I have come with this little story that seems to me more credible than other explanations. Here’s the genesis of the composition, from pencil study to finalised drama… as Peter Norton commented: it must have hurt!

Allo-Steg wound projectSketch copyAllo-Steg wound project2 copyAllo-Steg wound project copy

An addition to Dinosaur rEvolution in the future. This might become part of another  oncoming, massive, very ambitious  project that could become very important and original…  I’m still awaiting instructions to disclose more details!

Posted in Carnosaurs, Dinosaurs, stegosaurs, Titanosaurs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Intermission after Mexico…more inspiration for “Paleoart”.

DSC04549And this time for real… No helping Diplodocus restorations, no talks, no scientific accuracy… only  surrealism. Hope you can excuse indulging once again in my taste for Pre-hispanic Art and the fact that I keep turning  to use its influence for some of my own paleo-interests . Yes the famous Aztec symbol of the eagle and serpent over a cactus (in remembrance of the legendary origin of Tenochtitlan, the Mexica capital, famously used as the Mexican flag’s national emblem) has been of special interest for me over the years. On my annual visit to Metepec near Toluca (Edo. de Mexico),  inspired and aided by  the workshop of Israel Soteno and Blanca Jiménez, and with their priceless help,  I decided to do some more clay work inspired by a Prehispanic design I’ve seen years ago… and once again the raptor would go back in time and become a Veloci-raptor , while the serpent would have the tiny legs of a Cretaceous one. The cactus is being “vomited” by a yet even more surreal version of Tlatecuhtli, or Mother Earth ( considering how volcanic is the soil…”Atom Heart Mother”?), representing an island surrounded by the veins of water from the lake.DSC04102

I show here three stages; No. 1  still fresh and wet. As with all traditional procedures, things might go wrong… and they did:  the piece broke while drying before being burned in the massive oven… then it further broke while bringing it home to London so I had to mend it, reconstructing it with different kinds of cement and glue.

DSC04546No. 2 shows it already painstakingly reconstructed and with an enamel coating to start painting it.

No. 3  is the piece finally painted very much in the style of a three dimensional Aztec Codex, a style I learned to apply on clay from Carlos Soteno (see here the previous example I did together with Carlos two years ago in a much more traditional rendering).DSCN2008

The  Codex pictorial literature  tell  us the life and history of the indigenous Americans and look to me as  precursors of  contemporary comics and picture books.  A colourful, playful language that became very much part of my childhood and younger days in Mexico, and that I’d like to pay tribute to once again… and this  time recounting what might have been Prehistoric Mexico using familiar, traditional symbols!

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