Friday, 17 August 2012

Something Away From the Norm

Looking back through my blog posts over the last couple of months, it appears that things have been dominated by paper reviews and descriptions of fossils so perhaps it is now time to lighten up things for a week or two. After all, conference season is just around the corner now and there will be copious amounts of research to report on throughout autumn and into the winter.
So with that in mind I thought I would pay a little homage to the guys of Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs and feature some images from a book that I have had in my possession for many years – the aptly named Prehistoric Animals. Published by Octopus back in 1975 and edited by Ellis Owen, this book is copiously illustrated with photographs of both fossils and fascinating models and dioramas.
This is a seriously dated book in so many ways but, never the less, it is still a beautiful book to behold and brings back fond memories. The book contained many images of real fossils and it was for this reason that I kept it when all of my other books were thrown out. Strangely, all those other books that I got rid of tend to turn up on LITC anyway and it has been great to see them again.
The models have featured in other books but some in this one are probably absent from many people’s memories and are worth a look. Let’s take a look at Pteranodon first.

What a sturdy pterosaur this is – just look at that head. Not sure what to make of that crest but in combination with its distended belly and fat little drumsticks one wonders how this got off the ground.

Not dinosaur but appealing never the less (should that say appalling?) – this is the Triassic cynodont Thrinaxodon and just take a look at that expression! Modern restorations of this animal reveal a very mammalian look with a reasonable coverage of fur. This poor guy looks like he has been put together using a selection of artificial crocodilian hand bags. 

This is not too terrible mind and is one of my favourite models in the book. This is Ceratosaurus feeding on what appears to be the remnants of some poor sauropod. Love the bloody carnage and the traditional tail dragging theropod design. Hard to tell in the image but it looks like the manus may actually have the right digit count.

Not so fortunate are these stegosaurs that remind somewhat of friendly cuddly hedgehogs. Do you like the neck? Erm……what neck? And the plates look like they have been driven into the unfortunate beasts back with a sledge hammer.

Getting back to a reasonable restoration of a dinosaur and this Styracosaurus is almost acceptable except for the lack of frill!

And, finally, we have, according to the caption, Anatosaurus – better known today as Edmontosaurus. Unfortunately this image is enormous and I cannot get it all in the scanner but this is the guy who counts. Makes me laugh every time I see it and, if dinosaurs said “peek-a-boo!”, then this is surely the animal that said it.
Despite all the glaring inaccuracies and appalling models, this book, and others like it, are always nice to revisit and always make me smile. It is easy to look at them and dismiss them as ridiculous, inaccurate and embarrassing but they demonstrate how the world of palaeontology is fluid and continually evolving and as such represent a part of the history of our science and so should be celebrated.


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