Critter of the Week: Camarasaurus

Meet Bella. She’s big, she’s loud, and she’s really happy to see you! She’s happy to see anyone really, except Alfred, but can you blame her? There’s about a-bazillion years of conflict going on there…

bella

There she is! She is the most accommodating of Pete’s very large camarasaurus herd- voted least likely to accidentally trample the equipment. They can be an excitable bunch, and don’t always pay attention to what they’re bumping into. I’ll just say that when Pete finally got her separated from the herd there was a tractor, some flags, an air horn, and a rubber chicken involved…

These Camaras are more closely related to the smaller wild species, C. lentus (there are 3 🙂 ), which are only about 49 feet long. But that’s still a lot of sauropod on the move, especially when you multiply it by 80!

Why so many?

Paleontologists may call Bella the ugliest sauropod, but they’re pretty popular for anyone with plenty of pasture. Their friendly and calm, cow-like attitude makes them an easier alternative to the larger giants like Elmer.

If only they weren’t so loud! But some may call Bella’s singing endearing. It’s lovely to hear their chorus far out to pasture.

Have the video play in the background while you look at Bella above, I can’t help laughing at the mental picture of 50 or 100 of these fat, happy sauropods calling to each other constantly. In a herd of such large animals, you don’t really need stealth. 😀

Making progress…

There isn’t very much progress that I can report on this week, at least not anything that is visually interesting enough for a post update…so I’d like to take a moment to share one of my many inspirations for the critters on this website.

James Gurney.

James-Gurney-in-Studio_580_385_c1.jpg
Photo not mine.  Credit goes to original photographer.  Obtained from illustrationhistory.org, James Gurney artists page.

In case you’ve never heard of him, James Gurney is an extremely talented artist, and the author of the Dinotopia book series.

Now I never knew of James Gurney until several years after I watched the miniseries inspired by his books.  I even had a copy of James Gurney’s dinosaur stamps framed on the wall, never knowing (but always wondering) who the artist was.  It was at some point during a resurgence of my “Dinotopia” phase that I decided to look up the original author, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Just a side note.  The only reason I watched the Dinotopia miniseries was for the dinosaurs (is there any other reason?).  I recently tried watching it again, for nostalgia’s sake and…couldn’t get past 20 minutes of poor dialogue.  But it introduced me to the author of the original books, and that’s what matters here. 🙂

Like so many masters out there, there is too much to say to fit in a single post.  But James Gurney has a way of using light and texture that brings his creatures to life.  For me, his dinosaurs live and breathe in a way no fancy CGI can match.  Dated inaccuracies don’t matter.  In fact, I quite enjoy seeing the progression of how we see these animals with each book in the series.

I hope to instill the same wonder and beauty in my characters.  I’m not trying to be another James Gurney of course, that would be impossible…but his work has a way of bringing prehistoric animals to life in a way most other children’s books don’t even try, and that’s what I want to do.

To bring prehistoric animals to life in a way that’s beautiful and inspiring, not just the biggest, baddest, or meanest.  They are just another part of our beautiful world, and they inspire a child’s imagination and curiosity for learning in a way few other things can.

It’s that sense of majesty, wonder, and inspiration I want to instill in my illustrations.  Just like James Gurney does with his beautiful art in the Dinotopia books. 🙂

Coming Next Week…

These two love making new friends, especially if you have a treat…

Share your guess in the comments! They’re a couple of critters over on the critter page. 🙂

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