Last week, freqent commenter Hadiaz alerted me to the existence of the book If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today, describing it as the "last straw" that made him cease taking Dougal Dixon seriously. Trish then said that she had purchased a copy of said book from Amazon for a penny. Already curious, my interest was stoked further when I caught a glimpse of the dreadful front cover (see below). It's in my hands now, and oh boy - it's what you might dub 'a doozy'. Especially if you love terrible Photoshopping and inaccurate, cheapo-looking CG dinosaurs.
That's a truly gigantic and monstrous-looking Tyrannosaurus there, chasing some cattle while being buzzed by a helicopter. You might think the exaggerated size is the result of the composition of the image being altered for the front cover but, alas, that's not the case; the image inside also depicts a whale-sized tyrannosaur (that looks like it's straight out of Peter Jackson's King Kong remake). Ah, but we're just beginning our journey into the Dougal Zone. If you were wondering what the point of this book is, well, there isn't much of one. It's a mixture of a fairly conventional dinosaur book interspersed with some very strange sights that reminded me of Dinosaurs Attack!, but less fun. Like this:
Unfortunately this coffee table volume is somewhat too large for my scanner, but I've done my best to try and cram as much of each bizarre spread in as possible. In any case, here we have a group of skeleton-faced Diplodocus hallorum (="Seismosaurus") moseying rather unconvincingly around an airport in the middle of nowhere. Speaks for itself, surely? If you thought the animals in the above picture looked reasonable (except for the feet and heads), then worry not - there is some properly embarrassing stuff in here.
Merry skipping Troodon kangaroo attack! The troodonts in March of the Dinosaurs and Planet Dinosaur came in for some criticism (mostly for being scantily feathered), but they are masterful works of palaeoart when compared with this thing. Damn, it's ugly. There's another one on the other side of the 'roo, but the camp hand gesture exhibited by this one makes me laugh a lot more. Oh, and according to Dixon's text, Troodon has "steak knife-like teeth". Ah, that old cliché. Of course, if your steak knife looks like this, it's probably time to buy a new one. If it's hyperbole you're after, however, then nothing beats...
...LIOPLEURODON! ITS HEAD WAS BIGGER THAN AN ORCA! ITS BODY WAS BIGGER THAN WEMBLEY STADIUM! IT WAS TEH BIGGEST EVAR PREDATORY ANIMAL OF ALL TIME!!!1! Yes, it really is Liopleurodon, and yes, the book really does claim that it reached some 24 metres long and weighed 90 tonnes, and so would be snacking on killer whales if alive today. Never mind the fact that there's no way a 90-tonne animal would ever get that close to the shore without beaching itself - just drink in the sheer insanity of that image. And then prepare to guzzle down the utter madness of the next one.
That'll be Cryptoclidus sunning itself alongside some sea lions. Because, apparently, they are quite alike (but of course!). Enough plesiosaurs, though - I worry for the sanity of certain people who might be reading this. Back to the dinosaurs it is. And you know what would be cool? If a dinosaur fought a tiger.
Cheers then. Yeah, take that, kitty! That's a Plateosaurus tail-slap in the face for you, my friend. Nevertheless, Dixon informs us that "it would not be well equipped to defend itself against the main[?] meat-eaters of today". Unfortunately, we are not shown the bloody aftermath in which the tiger is enjoying a tasty slab of sauropodomorph. We are shown a pride of lions tucking into a Ceratosaurus, but I just couldn't bring myself to scan that madness. Have a perfectly sensible image of three Archaeopteryx mobbing a bald eagle instead.
"As the earliest known bird," Dixon tells us, "Archaeopteryx shows features of both modern birds and its ancestors, reptiles - it appears to attack its descendant so that it can eat its ancestor!" Hnnnngggghh. Ouch. To be fair, Dixon does unequivocally state elsewhere in the book that birds are dinosaurs, but that is one awkwardly-worded sentence. In what seems to be his typical style, Dixon mixes a lot of solid facts with some real oddities (oh, and 'macronarian' is spelled "macronian" - whoops).
The art, though, is just unbelievable. It's bad, and yet at the same time it's so batshit mental that it transcends its own shoddiness. In short, it's so bad it's good. This is definitely worth buying for a penny from Amazon. And with that, I'll leave you with a Baryonyx playing tug-of-war with a grizzly bear.