Dinosaur art mostly bullshit


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/09/26/dinosaur-art-mostly-bullshit.html

Dinosaur art is not bullshit (unless you’re doing it wrong)

Don’t get me started on the plants depicted with them.


Living near prospect park, where I’ve watched endless visitors discover anew the results of testing the frayed patience behind the snowy facade of the local swans, I both lolled and nodded along to this quote. This rendering gives you a much better indication of swans’ placement on the “should I fuck with this animal?” scale than their meatspace projection, so maybe the skeleton tells us more when our judgement isn’t clouded by the frills. Perhaps we’ve been more right about dinosaurs than we knew.


Regarding the inappropriately named Mute Swan (the a-holes with the yellow beaks), I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment.


Would it really be more accurate for artists to imagine a bunch of characteristics that we don’t have evidence for?


Let’s say - it would be ‘just as’ accurate.


I’d take that article with a very large basket of salt. We know that dinosaurs were feathered, not furred, so the references to fur are just wrong. Second, he argues from looking at a variety of mammals whose fleshly bits are at odds with their skeletons… but dinos are not mammals. Lizards and birds, which are a lot more closely related to dinos than mammals, tend to be more bony and less fatty.

But worst of all, Grundhauser completely ignores the fact that we have a small but non-trivial number of dinosaur fossils where the imprint of their feathers and skin were preserved in the stone, and those fossils provide a reality check to paleontological reconstructions from fossil bones.

Are the typical depictions of dinosaurs full of errors? almost certainly, especially the lizard-based ones dating back almost a century that have dominated the popular idea of dinosaurs in people’s imagination thanks to movies. Are they as wildly off as this article tries to make out? Probably not.

eta: He also ignores the vast body of knowledge paleontologists have from looking at bones of living animals as to how the attachment points for tendons and muscles create evidence of the fleshly bits in the bones.



Reminds me of this taxidermy-ed lion:

Full story:


I love this comment more than I can say. Also, relevant username.


Wait…drawings of dinosaurs aren’t dead on balls accurate?!?


Giant Sparrows? Oh, I really hope so :grinning:


On the contrary, Sir, please do enlighten us!

(No seriously, I am keenly interested! What is wrong with the way ancient plants are usually depicted?)


Well, of course it’s all speculation! How could it not be? Sure, it’s speculation grounded in evidence, but unless somebody manages to pull a Jurassic Park, we’re stuck with our imaginations.


Somehow, that doesn’t make it better.


Large animals generally aren’t fluffy like that unless they live in extremely cold areas. Typically they have a greater need to shed excess heat than retain it. It probably looked more like a naked chicken with feathers mostly on the vestigial arms and maybe a bit around the head.


Who knew?


Basically, to our knowledge, that evolutionary line which lead to today’s angiosperms developed during or after the late cretaceous.

In clear terms, most of the stuff you think about when thinking about plants didn’t exist. Whenever you are grass in a dinosaur pic, I shake my head sadly. Most artists get that right, incidentally. But the still paint other bullshit plants. Especially pop culture is a terrible mess when it comes to “accurate” descriptions.

It’s like that macaow in a film which goes through lenghts to be historically accurate - in ancient Rome. As a biologist, you can’t unsee this. It isn’t even that I choose to nerd about it. It’s just this in your face moment…


The most fascinating ones are not dinosaurs -Gorgonopsia : they became extinct long before dinosaurs appeared (kind of hipster prehistoric folks). They’re somehow between the mammal and the saurian : did they have fur, or scales ? So many speculations can be done here…


Awww isn’t T-Rex just the most adorable fluffy giant creature with teeth the size of steak knives