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1 9 7 0s: D I N O S A U R S   R E D E S I G N E D 

Researcher Donald Glut's ambitious, first Dinosaur Dictionary (1972) was just a step behind the times. It may have had nearly all the species known to date but was seriously lacking in the art department. There just wasn't enough new artists on the scene yet. It was just three years premature of the start of the most significant era in paleontology.

What was happening was nothing short of a 'Dinosaur Renaissance' (or modernist consensus). Peter Dodson was researching sexual dimorphism and Robert Bakker, a Yale undergrad, had done enough research to prove that dinosaurs were not slow, stupid, solitary or evolutionary failures. In fact they may not have all died out. Some may have evolved into birds. In other words: what we thought we knew about dinosaurs was wrong. Very wrong! No more draggin' tails...

Adrian Desmond's 'The Hot Blooded Dinosaurs' heralded the theories in a popular book whose
very title was to become a television dinosaur documentary produced by Horizon/NOVA.
Bakker appeared here first and within a few years would be seen in practically every new program being made on the subject. His collective knowledge would take at least a decade to materialize in a book but would be long awaited and another paleontological milestone. In the meantime, Ostrom and Bakker made a case in his "Dinosaur Renaissance" article in April 1975's Scientific American.

For her illustration in that article, Sarah Landry gets credit for the first dinosaur (Syntarsus) with feathers. Shortly after, Gregory Paul entered the field as both paleontologist and artist. After years of dun, browns, gray, greens and tans, Paul and another artist named Ely Kish, decided dinosaurs probably had bolder colors and spots and stripe patterns like some modern animals.

There was a revolution going on but most kids wouldn't have even known it. The dinosaur image was officially changed. However, you would not have guessed by looking at most 1970s popular books and shows, like 'Hanna Barbara's Valley of the Dinosaurs'. Wah Chang's educational reel 'Dinosaurs: the Terrible Lizards' and 'Land of the Lost' featured stop motion models. Marx playsets and assorted Hong Kong rubber figures continued to fill toy stores and model kits by Aurora and Airfix all seem derived from Ray Harryhausen's cinematic monsters. In Europe, plastic figures by Starlux were patterned over 40-50 year old paintings by Burian and Knight. There was nothing up-to-date about the first museum lines from Invicta Plastics (for the British Museum of Natural History). Only the Royal Ontario Museum line in the late 1970s bothered to include a lambeosaurus with its tail above ground as the changing image indicated. Besides, preserved dinosaur track ways seldom were found with tail marks.

By the end of the decade, 'dinosaur courses' were actually in the curriculum at Stockton State College in New Jersey and University of California at Berkley. John Horner had discovered nesting grounds in Montana, proving at last that at least some dinosaurs were intelligent, maternal and social animals, traits ensuring longevity. In a pre-internet world, the latest theories were being exchanged at the first of what would be annual meetings for the Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists.

 Robert T. Bakker

In the late 1960s, paleontologist Robert T. Bakker drew what could be considered the first modern restoration, a running Deinonychus (1969). Bakker's theories completely changed the image of the dinosaur as sluggish, solitary and stupid cold-blooded reptiles to active, social and smart warm-blooded animals linked directly to birds. Bakker's own illustrations, always in pencil or ink, continued to be innovative in terms of behavior and unsurpassed in anatomical accuracy. Indeed he is responsible for the first skeletal profile (Triceratops) and leopard spotted theropods which inspired artist Gregory Paul, who studied under Bakker at Johns Hopkins University. Reflecting Bakker's new image were a galloping Chasmosaurus, (1971), rearing up Brontosaurus, and quarreling Leptoceratops. Throughout the 1970s-80s, Bakker drew well over three hundred species and scenes, most published in his own The Dinosaur Heresies in 1986. These illustrations lack the accuracy and detail found in Bakker's 1970s work, intentionally done at times as cartoonish and whimsical. Extra effort went to present dinosaurs with all their feet off the ground instead of static poses, to the point where some look like they're practically in flight! (Psittacosaurus, Montanoceratops).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Eleanor M. Kish

In 1975, under the direction of paleontologist Dale A. Russell, Eleanor (Ely) M. Kish was hired at the age of 50 to produce an atmospheric series of paintings for the Canadian Museum of Nature that were more accurate than any before (excepting a Triceratops with sprawling forelimbs, a Saurolophus resembling something out of the 'Star Wars' cantina and a swamp-bound Edmontosaurus / corythosaurs.) Almost an overreaction to the tubby old school image of the dinosaur, even her healthy dinosaurs appear nearly anorexic but never hyperactive. Among the first artists to beautifully restore the proper paleoflora, particularly of the Cretaceous Period of western Canada, her color choices were still fairly conservative; Kish's gets the credit for first painted dinosaur camouflaged to its environment (a Hypacrosaurus). She continued the proper tail-above-ground reconstructions and, like Charles Knight before her, created plaster models before beginning a piece to see which angles were most dynamic for her extinct subjects and where shadows fell to achieve utmost realism. She is the first to restore an extinction scenario (seen below). Kish can be credited as the pioneer of photorealistic paleoart and most of her work can be seen in the book A Vanished World by Dale Russell. Like so many veteran artists, her 1990s paintings' landscapes remained dense and lurid but the dinosaurs started to look uncharacteristically cartoonish (any of the Tiny Perfect Dinosaur books, see example on the right).

  Gregory S. Paul

Before composing a painting or drawing, Gregory S. Paul (the only paleontologist besides Bakker in this movement), meticulously constructed skeletal profiles based off original research. The first (and for a long time only) modern paleoartist to title pieces down to their exact species. Some thirty years later Paul's skeletons are still being revised and used by artists and scientists alike everywhere. Working closely under Bakker in the 1970s, Paul's early charging Triceratops was directly patterned after Bakker's Chasmosaurus.  Early Paul restorations were conservatively detailed or cautiously restored (i.e. forward facing if the lateral details weren't described, his early drawings of Oviraptor hid the tail until it was recovered). Small predatory dinosaurs and young theropods were given downy feathers even in the late 1970s (Stenonychosaurus, Deinonychus), which were speculative then but ended up being confirmed 20 years later. No one else was doing it (this includes any of the 1980s names). Innovative behaviors never before rendered: pack hunting (allosaurs, Coelophysis), herding/nesting/parenting (Kritosaurus, Maiasaura), galloping (Pentaceratops), flocking (the usually solitary Archaeopteryx, pterosaurs), rearing up on hindlimbs (Chasmosaurus), swimming (Dilophosaurus, iguanodonts) and even just resting or scratching an itch (Allosaurus). Choice of color ranged from yellows (ceratopsids) to the standard drab greys (sauropods). His dinosaurs were given convergent evolutionary patterns found in extant animals, from leopard spots (Allosaurus, Albertosaurus) and tiger striping (Yangchuanosaurus) to false eye, peacock patterns on ceratopsian shields (Pentaceratops herd) and eyestripes (Hypacrosaurus, Parasaurolophus among redwoods). Unlike his contemporaries', Paul's work is subject to constant revision as new evidence emerges (i.e. adding spines to backs of sauropods), Paul's restorations always end up accurate even by today's standards. His landscapes are generally sparse because paleobotanical data was (and is) generally still not reliable enough. Waterbirds are present in many of his scenes, sometimes peacefully perched atop a sauropod or ceratopsid. When the asteroid/extinction theory arose, Paul was the only paleoartist to resist the temptation of illustrating a theoretical dinosaur apocalypse scene. He also never released inaccurate panoplies,  Imitated constantly through the years (his brachiosaur was ripped off by Harry Pincus in Glut, 1980), Dave Marrs (in PaleoWorld TV series), and even Raul Martin (in Barrett, 2001). Without being known for ultrarealism or atmosphere, Paul's the leader in the dino art movement, such as making it cool to actually show a predator just resting and not showing its teeth. Other than Robert Bakker, no modern paleoartists have authored and illustrated any major or academic dino books; Bakker's done just one but Paul has done four.

 William Stout

Comic book/fantasy artist William Stout's watercolor dinosaurs are described by most experts as romanticized or fanciful portrayals, and illustrate the danger of paleoart from professional artists who are not professional scientists. Author Donald Glut filled his New Dinosaur Dictionary (1982) with many of Stout's pieces, which drew some criticism from paleontologists. Glut did not rely on Stout's work for his Dinosaurs: The Encyclopedia (1997) due to the glut of available artists. Early works show a Charles Knight influence, disregarding long-disproven mistakes. To some, Stout's own book The Dinosaurs: A Fantastic View of Lost Era (1981) showed off the new image of dinosaurs as vivacious, real animals. To others, it's a collection of pure fantasy: Stone Age landscapes (cave dwelling Leptoceratops, Camptosaurus behind an enormous boulder), inaccurate proportions or characteristics (a horned Tarbosaurus) and scale and pterosaurs in the sky just to fill the space even if they didn't exist in the time or locale. More interested in instilling dinosaurs with character, Stout's heads are often given too-expressive mammalian eyes, emaciated with sunken orbits, overly skeletal rib cages (Dromaeosaurus), etc. Completely unfounded behaviors (snake constricting a dinosaur, Dromiceiomimus chasing a butterfly, Alioramus devouring a medium-sized dinosaur whole, etc.) Stout can be credited with the first drawings of diseased dinosaurs (Triceratops), mating dinosaurs (Parasaurolophus) and defecating dinosaurs (Riojasaurus). Stout incorporated more accuracy and improved his technique tremendously in the 2000s but he sure channels Knight with The San Diego Natural History Museum murals are the best mammal murals since Matternes, nothing short of phenomeonal.

 

  HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  John C. McLoughlin

John C. McLoughlin was an American zoologist whose popular books Archosauria and Synapsida were also filled with his own landscape-less, ink stipple dot / cross-stitch pattern drawings. He was the illustrator of Ratkevich's Dinosaurs of the Southwest. The only artist to confidently declare all other ceratopsian restorations are inaccurate because their shields attached to their backs as one big muscular mass. His bizarre anatomical interpretations didn't end there: T rex had eagle eyes due to a ridge directly over its eye, Iguanodon's thumb spikes were "spines", Even Teratosaurus made his book as a "Triassic coelurosaur". McLoughlin never got to defend any of these statements because none of the real paleontologists actually took them seriously. Still, his dinosaurs looked modern enough at a time when popular books had not witnessed the Dinosaur Revolution, and still were copying outdated works by Knight and Burian.

  Richard Rush Studio

Sculptors Richard Rush gets a nod for his 1976 Tyrannosaurus rex (supervision by Princeton's Donald Baird) and the studio's Dilophosaurus, supervised by Gregory Paul. The rex was the first to be walking horizontally, tail above ground, head down. Its head details were most accurate for the time. The studio did a few other prehistoric animals but these two dinosaurs are their highest achievements.

 

 

 Peter Zallinger

Two to three decades after his father Rudolph's Yale mural, son Peter Zallinger was carrying on the family name with the dinosaur art tradition. With similar technique and coloring choices it was clear Peter was influenced by his father and also followed in illustrating children's books and the world's first multimedia kit (under John Ostrom's supervision) in the 1970s. Reflecting the new research, Peter's dinosaurs were steps in the right direction keeping their tails in the air most of the time...