My Spinosaurus finally takes to the waters…

Lately, this blog is in danger of becoming an obsessive fan club of the Spinosaurus saga, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of finally doing a water-bound restoration of our favourite fisher kings… I understand that the paleo-art market may be saturated of images of him doing what he did best, but… political scourges, lock-downs , coronaviruses and above all, an overall horrid 2020 won’t stop any paloartistic passion for long!

Rest assured: this restoration is based in the most accurate references possible, bone by bone. Looking at the different fossils and reconstructions, I’m really starting to agree that the Spinosaurus genus must have had several different species with different characteristics, some were more sturdy than the others, but I’ll leave that for following studies and the ever elusive final restoration of a complete skeleton.

In the meantime for reasons of space I had the main protagonist hunting a smalli-ish Coelacanth. We know there were many bigger species living with Spinosaurus, but the gavial-like jaws were probably not powerful enough to deal with the enormous species of lungfish, sharks or sawfishes that were also contemporary according to Ibrahim et al.

It’s been a very long time since my first Spinosaurus reconstruction from 2001 (or so) and you can see much has changed! Will it change even more in the future?

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Yet More Spinosaurus! A matter of legs. The Ideal Vs Scientific papers.

I have always been a fan of the skeletal models from a very talented Chinese, popular sculptor that I found via Internet 袁圣钊 (Yuan Shengzhao). I recommend any serious collector to get in contact with him. Not only his replicas are accurate but he is willing to collaborate when you raise any objections.

I like perfectionism and that is what happened here. I purchased his new Spinosaurus skeletal model, hoping that such serious 3D reproductions would be accurate to the maximum.

When it arrived, it was indeed an exquisite replica of a modern Spinosaurus skeleton… only there was a problem. I noted that the proportion of the legs were not based on the paper by Sereno, Ibrahim et al… but it was a perfect source to look at Spinosaurus from what anyone would consider the new “Ideal” …the skeleton was in fully fledged aquatic mode and the legs size were “perfect”… only that the perfection was for an ideal model that is still not verified by the evidence…!

So noting that, I made him aware that the legs ‘should’ heve been at least a quarter shorter… and to my amazement he offered to correct it based on the Ibrahim model… and here you have it.

He sent me the corrected legs and now I have TWO sets of legs that I can compare (and maybe change in the future, who knows!).

So everything goes down to the legs…Yes you might like the longer legs better, but actually the final product is the one I display now and will serve me for future refereece in my new aquatic reconstructions of Spinosaurus…. this is a sketch of one that will be finished very soon.

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Spinosaurus Revisited Part 2. Spinosaur hysteria!

  • Spinosaurus SerenoEXTR copy 2There is a veritable flood of commentary and new restorations of Spinosaurus on the internet.  Most of the commentary is based on false assumptions that feverishly support this or that “Ideal” image of this poorly known, biggest of all theropods. If it is bigger than T. rex it must have been a scary monster and a fierce predator, not a useless aquatic wimp… isn’t it? Especially if most of the prejudices come from a B monster movie!

The story of the reconstruction of Spinosaurus is rather truculent, to say the least… and when Ibrahim et al produced the first restoration based on the known remains, well, he opened the flood. At first glance “everybody” (including me, the legs did not seem to match the rest of the body) concluded Ibrahim was wrong… there were two animals there in different stages of growth. After the tempers settled, the model stayed; at least it had to be a biped and/or it walked on its knuckles like a gorilla (only no dinosaur hand had knuckles)… whatever other possibilities except that it might have been indeed the first fully aquatic theropod and could not have walked on land as most restorations today show him…very convincing  CG ones included!  

But gravity doesn’t lie. All the walking restorations I have seen need to strengthen the legs or at least make them small but massive.  Nevertheless, the precarious balance that the real reconstructed skeleton of this animal show, sustained by its very long tail, trunk and neck, small pelvis and incredibly short legs that look weakly muscled, could not possibly support its whole 15-meter long, multi-ton frame freely walking on solid ground like any other theropod.

So I suggested that when (and if) Spinosaurus needed to use the land to lay eggs, he might have been some sort of dinosaurian walrus or some sort of Ambulocetus-like dinosaur that in a few million years might have become the first dino-whale! That is exciting to think for any scientist, but not for the Idealists. The Ideal now is trying to adamantly continue to prove that it is, in reality, two specimens of Spinosaurus in one… unfortunately for the idealists, they have no proof,  the tail finally appeared and according to Cristiano Dal Sasso the tail fits perfectly well and its elongated vertebrae creating a fin that looks exactly what you can expect for a rather elegant, fully aquatic animal.

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I trust my friend Cristiano Dal Sasso more than I trust the idealists. Until more is known of a complete skeleton of Spinosaurus found in situ, the evidence is currently showing us a very odd aquatic dinosaur, with also the bone density of an aquatic animal. Spinosaurs skulls, in general, have been always odd and many doubted spinosaurs were dinosaurs at the beginning.  The model of Ibrahim et al continues to be current. This may change in the future who knows?

So I set my hands to work again on one of the old reconstructions that I did first for Anusuya Chinsamy‘s Dinosaurs from Africa,  and that has been evolving through the years. Yes, this is a biped Spinosaurus trying to find a place to lay her eggs. Note the theropod hands, based on Alan Gishlick’s work on the hand of raptors… this is obviously not a raptor, but the outwardly hyperexpanded digits are typically theropodian and could have helped in this bipedal-quadrupedal posture. The puny legs might have helped in the dragging of the body. You may notice my earlier takes of this same painting in this blog!

Very sorry that for the time being the Idealists can’t have their monster back. Can’t believe all this controversy is simply trying to get back a B-Movie monster but it is consistent with my thesis about Dinosaur Iconography embedded and twisted by the Media! In any case, I’d be very scared if I was a fish!SpinoBaby modified


And yes! I’m looking forward to seeing the 3D model by Hector Munive of a baby Spinosaurus I designed for him… watch this space!


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Even more interesting NEW Mexican Dinosaurs.

Titan newV3 copy 3Mexico’s Palaeontology is hard work… at all levels! The numerous but very fragmentary material has palaeontologists squabbling and scratching their heads as to what the myriad of fragments are. This time I have selected two new remarkable new discoveries: Claudia Serrano has just described fragments from a large Ornithomimosaur that she classifies as a Deinocheirid and called it Paraxenisaurus. If this is so, it is a revolutionary discovery, since no deinocheirid has been discovered in the American Continent. It makes sense though because we know that Tyrannosaurus ancestors most probably originated in Europe and went through to Asia to arrive in the Americas… but surely we can’t assume Paraxenisaurus is just-as Deinocheirus, with its many peculiarities, hump and strange skull. We need more evidence than just robust bits of legs and feet and other parts of the skeleton of this big ornithomimosaur (unfortunately no skull).

Nevertheless, as seen in the background of the picture, I depicted Paraxenisaurus as a large, really derived Deinocheirus-like ornithomimid (it might have also been a relative of Garudimimus or Beishalong) compared in size with a flock of other speculative ornithomimids “Saltillomimus”,(invalid genus) closely related to some of the many Mexico has produced., like Tototlmimus and others.

The other main protagonist is no other than Titanoceratops, a reasonably large ceratopsian with massive recurved horns… here in a mating ritual.

It is the role of the “paleo artist” to use the evidence and actually go beyond and start speculating. For a few professional palaeontologists and paleo-people, this may result in a cacophonous “noise” of species living in contradicting environments. For what we know, most of the species known from the north of Mexico are from the familiar Cretaceous fauna… most of the Ceratopsians are chasmosaurines Nasutoceratops-like;  hadrosaurs are either lambeosaurid or Kritosaurus or Edmontosaurus-like and ornithomimimids include now Deinocheirus-like big ones! And not only that, many species across Mexico have Mexican peculiarities that suggest common ancestors, even with time-spans of millions of years in between them!

I have done two versions of this mural… the second includes an intruding Velafrons.

In reality, this artwork should be subdivided in at least three illustrations… but or the sake of art I have combined them in yet another possible Mexican palaeofauna tableau… You can call this a Covid19 work in process…subject to alterations, corrections and modifications in the future! This is what Paleoart is all about… a marriage between raw data and speculation… we risk it to see if it survives the final evidence tests!Titan new. copy 3

Thank you Claudia Serrano Brañas, Angel Ramírez and Ruben Molina for expert feedback and headaches!

For more information read Claudia Serrano’s new paper on Paraxenisaurus.

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Spinosaurus revisited.

Yes, this is the moment we have all been waiting for…  the newest, most formal restoration of Spinosaurus, modified so it now includes the tail… and it has surprised many, but not me. The tail definitively depicts Spinosaurus as an aquatic dinosaur… elongated spines to create a perfect rudder for an enormous predator swimming in shallow waters… that (for me) most definitively only ate… fish!

Yes,. the restoration  I did in 2014 has been vindicated and I could modify it further with the new information we have about the tail… it is still that “SpinoWalrus” I reconstructed… others may have different ideas, but… we will never return to Jurassic Park’s Spinosaur-like monsters…! And I am really happy about that. The variety of dinosaurs was enormous and many of them were nothing like we imagine! For the sake of the size and aquatic environment some will be relieved that I haven’t added feathers or quills… but… who knows what can happen in the future!Spinosaurus WalrusNEW copy 2.jpg It is just a sketch… but, it has some historical value for me!

spinosaurus tail 2020.jpgArticle here. Thank you, Cristiano Dal Sasso, Nizar Ibrahim et al!

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The Waikato Museum in New Zealand hosts Dinosaur rEvolution!

Things are definitively looking up  for Dinosaur rEvolution, Secrets Of Survival. The efforts of Peter Norton and Gondwana Studios are now more evident than ever in this new outing at the Waikato Museum in Hamilton,  New Zealand.  Always trying to adapt to the venue, I think this time it gets closer than ever to the original intention of the exhibition. Those that have got Extreme Dinosaurs Part 2 The Projects might understand what I mean… I describe in detail there the intention of the project itself.

I think the time to get the exhibition to Europe and the rest of the world is getting closer! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.


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Pterosaur squid eating? I did it first…

Well it is not very often that I post anything about pterosaurs,,, but since a  recent paper by Hoffmann et al. (2020) documented the remarkable discovery of a Plesioteuthis squid with a Rhamphorhynchus tooth embedded in its tissues reminded me of something that I did for Robert Bakker’s “Dactyls”  Random House book for kids way back in the early 2000’s … it may NOT have been a Rhamphorhynchus, but can somebody  spot the premonition? Pterodactylus may not have had the specialised teeth of Rhamphorhynchus , but since it was also probably a good fisher, this may have occurred too! A fossil like this shows squids’ tough skin indeed.. Fun illustration to see again, I think…
The  paper is accessible here:

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Strange tales of the road… Dinosaurs and me at Havana, Cuba 1958. A scrapbook.

It really is a long time and shows how back my interests and fascination with  dinosaurs go! Just found these pictures on my first visit to a dino-park ever… Bellomonte, Playa de Guanabo (in the outskirts of Havana, Cuba. These days disappeared and the area is known as a fashionable beach resort as far as I know). Cuba.jpgBellomonte. Cuba.jpg

I find extremely funny the advertising postcard with cut-outs of Zallinger’s Yale Mural,   (“… because you dream of prehistoric animals, I send you this…”  says my father’s dedication on the back).  Little did a four year old know that many years later he would be doing a remake of a Zallinger book with Dr. Robert Bakker “The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs”

We first knew about this park thorough the advertisements that talked about “real” dinosaurs in “cartón piedra” (something that translates as “stone cardboard”… probably it was some sort of cement mixture)…

When we arrived to the site for the first time,  it was a bit of a disappointment as the models were really… terrible!!  Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus and Brontosaurus…   Life-Size  but…Even a four year old knew the difference and could be disappointed by what he is promised and  expects… and for what he finally gets, no matter how much he craves for it!

Unfortunately this was  the only picture I could find : Family members under the Brontosaurus… the T. rex was much worst and had three fingers like in the Fantasia movie 

Never mind, I have no idea how many times I made my parents and relatives take me to the park! It was “awesome” .

In the picture there is my grandmother and…  I’m the little guy beside the family  priest (Father Oriol) that I, funnily enough, remember fondly… mostly because the man had a hand for hobbies, DIY,  bric-a-brac  and once made me a fantastic moving dragon the breathed fire with wires and some sort of paste… at least that is what I remember. In contrast with the rest of the family, he never wanted to leave and stayed  in Cuba after  the Revolution until his death, working with the people.

So there… with me also playing with my first Marx model dinosaurs,  a couple of affectionate words about an episode of my distant past and my early love affair with the Icons of Prehistory. We all start with fascinating, vaguely scientific Icons (apply this to Jurassic Park) and some of us finish off with a craving for more of the science and less of the Icons…

For me this was a far cry from Extreme Dinosaurs Pt 2…!… by the way, if you still haven’t got it… what are you waiting for?

Casebound Cover Final

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Starting 2020 at​ a strong pace. DINOSAUR PATHOLOGIES.

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…27 of them and to the last detail!

Following an initiative from Ruben Molina-Pérez, responsible for the “Records and Curiosities of the Dinosaurs”, two of the greatest  Mexican Palaeontologists, Angel Ramírez and Ricardo Servín Pichardo,  that supported and backed me up with Monterrey’s Gondwana Studios exhibition  “DINOSAURIOS HECHOS EN MEXICO” and afterwards “EXTREME DINOSAURS PT. 2 THE PROJECTS”  and I, got together once again to deliver a novel and very attractive book that will hopefully see the light soon in 2020… let’s say farewell to 2019  and welcome 2020 with something stronger!

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Mark Witton’s review of Extreme Dinosaurs, The Projects.

Thank you Mark Witton… this review really does the book justice. High Praise from high places at the level of Paleontology… and still managing to positively dissect my work like a good fellow palaeontologist,  artist… and nerd…  aren’t we all?

Casebound Cover Final

… and hey, even legendary drummer genius Billy Cobham‘s grandaughter Isabelle has  now a copy (picture by Paul Price)… Good news everyone!


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