Fossil Friday: A Peak in the Sketchbook

I don’t have a critter ready to feature today, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have Fossil Friday. πŸ™‚ I’ve been hard at work with the illustrations for the short story collection, which is getting close to my personal deadline to finish it! Take a quick peak in my sketchbook to see what I’ve been working on….

First up are a few drawings from the aquatic creatures like Hybodus and Plesiosaurus. Hybodus was a shark-like animal that patrolled many of Earth’s shallow seas for an incredibly long time. Species of Hybodus span from the Permian period (the era just before the Triassic, the dawn of the “dinosaur age”) all the way to the late Cretaceous during the reign of Tyrannosaurus. In the first image all fish are drawn to scale.

The second image is featured on the fun facts section for Plesiosaurus, a marine reptile famous for its long neck. In the story, Nessie the Plesiosaurus is fed squid stuffed into ammonite shells, so I explored ammonites and other similar creatures.

The following two drawings are featured in the fun facts for one of the first stories, Ceratosaurus. Since Ceratosaurus and many of its neighbors in the Morrison Formation have the prestige of being among the first dinosaurs named, I thought it would be fun to show how our image of dinosaurs has changed over time. No, it has nothing to do with an excuse to draw vintage dinosaurs…nothing at all. πŸ˜€

Once I started researching vintage paleoart from the late 1800s, I couldn’t help but imitate the charm and personality of their drawings. I love seeing Stegosaurus’ many varying plates and tail spikes before they understood the arrangement as we do now, and most scale drawings have some snarling predator creeping up to an utterly oblivious herbivore and/or human. I almost went for the derpy Diplodocus with toothpicks for legs, but it was just a little too awkward, and even at the time most people did not think Diplodocus was a belly dragger (They thought sauropods were water-dwelling creatures, surely something as big as a whale couldn’t hold up its own weight!). Just for fun though, I’ll show you what I mean at the end of this post. πŸ˜€

The middle picture is just a close up of the two Ceratosaurus, modern and old. πŸ™‚

This image was borrowed from copyrightexpired.com, which has collected all of Heinrich Harder’s beautiful artwork along with other art published before 1923.

This picture is not mine, obviously, but painted by German artist Heinrich Harder. He did a large series of paintings for collectible cards of prehistoric animals, and all of them are gorgeous. I find it rather interesting that a Brontosaurus he painted holds its body up on strong, almost bear-like legs instead of these spindly lizardy ones. You can find that Brontosaurus here, and I highly recommend heading over to take a look at his card collection here and here.

Thank you so much for stopping by! See you on July 1st for the next Critter of the Month! πŸ˜€

2 thoughts on “Fossil Friday: A Peak in the Sketchbook

  1. I love sketchbook peaks! And I love them even more when they include vintage dinosaurs. It’s so cool to see how our understanding of Ceratosaurus has changed! But I think it’s even more amazing to see how, with just a few bits and pieces of bones and fragments, paleoartists were able to paint any kind of believable reconstruction of a once-living thing. πŸ˜€

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    1. Hi Brownie, I’m glad you like it!

      Victorian era paleontologists were amazing. People give them a hard time- laughing and pointing at how stupidly wrong their reconstructions were. I find it amazing that they could piece together anything at all! Is it so silly to think that a creature the size of a whale could walk around on land? Is it odd to think of dragging tails when the only things we have to go on are reptiles and mammals? At least their art has personality!

      So much paleoart nowadays is purely anatomical, or attempts photorealism to the point where the composition and style of the art suffers. Not to mention those CGI monstrosities. I think we have a lot to learn from vintage paleoart! πŸ™‚

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