Vintage Dinosaur Art: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs: Part 2
As promised in the last post, it's now time for some Sibbick sauropod(omorph)s. There's surely nowhere better to begin than with the favourite dinosaur of people named Heinrich, Plateosaurus! Sibbick depicts the animal in both upright and rather more erroneous quadrupedal feeding postures. Interestingly, the 'prosauropods' are primarily depicted as bipeds in this book - especially in the skeletal diagrams and photos of mounted skeletons, which include the excellent Tübingen mount of Plateosaurus engelhardti. However, Norman is careful to point out that these animals were probably habitual quadrupeds, a view that became firmly established in the 1990s before being demolished by more recent research (Bonnan & Senter (2007) and that Mallison guy).
Skeletals, by popular demand! It's worth pointing out - although I completely failed to in my last post (FOR SHAME!) - that each double-page illustration is accompanied by a spread of wonderful skeletal diagrams, which are a key part of this book's enormous appeal, even if a lot of them are now rather out of date. This Plateosaurus is partaking in a strangely upright tottering walk with a rather uncomfortable-looking tail. Of course, it's notable that the hands are facing the right way here, and the smaller skeletal is clearly based on a Plateosaurus mount supervised by Friedrich von Huene that was remarkably ahead of its time. It's also worth noting that - for all their flaws - both of these depictions are more realistic than, say, a galloping Plateosaurus. As if anyone could contemplate such silliness...
I've clearly been reading Mallison's blog for far too long - time to move on to some Proper Sauropods. Sibbick's Apatosaurus clearly owes a lot to earlier work by the likes of Burian, particularly when it comes to the neck, which seems to emerge from below the shoulder blades; noteworthy is that the head is of the more correct diplodocid style. The artwork is still beautiful, but at this point Sibbick's sauropods still tended to be rather lardy tail-draggers. Of course, his work evolved rapidly, and it's worth comparing the very 1950s Diplodocus in the background here with the extraordinary 'Allosaurus v Diplodocus' painting from the early '90s. Yeah, I know it mentioned it last time. But it's that bloody good.
This drawing's just fantastic. Excellent caption provided by Ivan Kwan (@VaranusSalvator), via Twitter:
Sauropod: Come here, give Aunt Pat a big hug!
Allosaur: DO NOT WANT
More skeletal stuff. This page is remarkable for the inclusion of 'diplodocid skulls' that actually come from titanosaurs. Given how famous they are now - the stars of TV documentaries and popular dinosaur books across the globe - it's easy to forget how much our understanding of titanosaurs has progressed in the last 20 years. The Diplodocus skeletal here is also very old fashioned, with the bones of the hand arranged in a rather strange, flat, lizardy way.
Every time I look at this Giraffatitan I think of chocolate biscuits (or 'cookies' for David and our United Statesian readers). There's a reason - back in the early '90s, the biscuit manufacturer Jacob's made dinosaur-shaped chocolate coated biscuits that were bundled with little cards featuring Sibbick artwork. Also, the big lug looks really happy, like he just ate a particularly delicious chocolate biscuit. Yes. This was also the illustration that led to my childhood perception of Camarasaurus being the little baby brother of the other sauropods; apart from its neck being unduly short here, standing next to Giraffatitan certainly never helped.
You know how I mentioned that some of these sauropods look a little...heavy? Vulcanodon here is probably the best example - modern restorations of this basal sauropod tend to be rather more slimline. Again, though, this is absolutely stunning artwork, and the animal depicted here is completely believable, dragged tail and all. It was probably the excellent execution of this picture that led to Vulcanodon's otherwise inexplicable mention in a number of dinosaur books back in the 1990s - this illustration was always there alongside.
It's the only erect-tailed sauropod there ever was! Perhaps because its tail is its most notable feature, Opisthocoelicaudia is depicted holding it aloft with nary a puff of dust in sight. Fellow titanosaur Saltasaurus is clearly aghast at this dangerous dinosaur radical. Saltasaurus itself is exhibiting a posture clearly modelled on rearing elephants. Another lovely illustration...you know, by the end of this series, I'm going to have to resort to just typing "Cor! Look at that lovely Sibbick art, there! It's right nice, it is!"
And so concludes today's lesson. There'll be more! Oh yes, I'm afraid so.