Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Feathered Dinos

Feathered Dinosaurs: The Origin of Birds-- the best book on the subject yet, by Australian paleontologist John Long and magical artist Peter Schouten, best known here for his collaborations with Tim Flannery. You look at these and think: THIS is what they looked like.

A mother Troodon attends the hatching of her eggs. Much behavior here-- not just predation but courting, brooding, and more. (Forgive slightly cropped image-- I didn't want to break the binding.)

The book is not yet available here or in the UK-- it will be at least six months. But you can order it from Andrew Isles in Australia (it is well worth getting on his list anyway) and he'll have it to you directly.


Anonymous said...

That is precisely what I thought when I saw those paintings: now "THIS is what they looked like"!

Its a far, far cry from those oft awkward and unconvincing representations of 'feathered dinosaurs' you see.

Simply stunning!

Moro Rogers said...

Yeah, it's nice and plausible-looking. (I think I'm going to miss the sleek, spare lines of unfeathered raptors, though.)

Mike Spies said...

As my friend Doug Tate once said about birds, "They're just lizards with feathers, eh?" Since Doug is a hugely knowledgeable fellow on the subject of birds, I suspect that he was over simplifying a bit...

Steve Bodio said...

Moro: some of these are pretty sleek. Think Peregrines.

Mike: the line is non- existent. Lizards we know today split away long ago and are farther away from dinos than birds are. Dinos were probably warm blooded. Some fossils are impossible to assign to "birds" or "dinosaurs"-- there is no spot in time where one changes into the other.

You know Doug? So do I-- say hi! He knows almost as much about birds as he does about guns (he'd love the Grant.)

Mike Spies said...


I do know Douglas. A very nice fellow. I have been his guest a few times and had a good time with he and Bonny. They have both stayed with me in NE Oregon and hunted birds together on some ground I have access to.

Doug is the Uber Expert on Brit guns. His library of bird books and his personal observations in his travels goes way beyond what I know or have access to.

You are right about the tenuous connection between lizards and birds - I know that much.

Anonymous said...

I looked at the illustrator's web page and wasn't impressed with the dinosaurs. The work is technically brilliant, love the feathers and especially the backgrounds, but the animals are stuck in the 'fat' school, too thick and bulky and kind of clumsy.

Brett said...

I'll have to agree with Nightmare, the feathers and backgrounds are incredible, but the actual animals themselves are little too 1970's for me. For instance Troodon is a thin lithe long faced animal. The one in this picture's head is far to short, the eyes should be almost double that size and the neck is to short. Perhapse he should take a look at G.S. Paul's Predatory Dinosaurs of the World.

And birds are dinosaurs, they are the last descendents of the theropod line. For some reason ornithologists keep listening to Feduccia about this. While he's great with birds he's lost when it comes to dinosaurs. If you're interested in the subject, the Science channel is running a show called Dinosaurs: return to life tonight about recreating dinosaurs using modern birds. It was quite interesting.

Sorry for the long comment, my dino nerd got the better of me:)


Moro Rogers said...

Maybe it was Ms. Troodon's turkey pattern that put me off.

Steve Bodio said...

Of course Brett is right on cladistics-- Feduccia is holding on to the "specialness" of birds with a level of denial seldom scene in a scientist.

But while I'm hesitant to take on artists I admire, and there is some truth in their comments, some of these are amazing. See Shuvuuia, the displaying Avimimus, Saurornitholestes, Sinoventor, Mei long (OK, I am picking favorites!) I'd put more up but I am wary of copyright issues-- I figured one was good to promote the book, but more risky.

Also, the book has the artist telling why he made certain choices for each painting, which I find interesting.