Learn about a new prehistoric animal every week with us. It will be a blast!
STL Science Center
25 June 2011
Baryonyx, unlike many other animals we've discussed, is pretty uniform across the board in terms of illustration. I support the theory that this is because it is such a basic animal overall. The crocodilian like head can be sampled in extant fauna, which makes the head more agreeable for artists and the only other odd piece of the animal is the thumb, which, while having some exaggerations or different interpretations on exact usage, is always going to look like a massive claw on a thumb.
I think, however, that Bonadonna's work has shown us a rare glimpse into how little a Baryonyx might care for other food sources when fish is readily available and that is fairly unique. Typically the artist shows us an animal alone on a beach or in the shallows looking for fish. Obviously there's nothing wrong with that idea and vision of Baryonyx, but wouldn't it be interesting to see how much concern it may have had for other animals that are in the vicinity while it is fishing for its next meal? Well thankfully that vision has been recorded for us here, in case you didn't feel like using your imagination. The claw, in this instance isn't being used to spear fish or even really to contain the one we see on the beach under the animal's meaty hand, but that only makes me, for one more interested in what Mr. Bonadonna would have the animal use it for; gutting a fish, or adjusting it in its mouth? Perhaps we can ask him sometime!
Kelly Taylor and Jeff Poling's joint venture offers another interesting and unique perspective on our typical Baryonyx illustrations. We can see the tracks going into and out of the water so we know that the artists have agreed upon the wading out identity of the animal and we can see the fish in its mouth in that much more gruesome looking face than you typically see. This is interesting and with the addition of the scene taking place at night, which could mean they view the animal as nocturnal or perhaps just hungry whenever it is hungry regardless of time of day, it makes for a rather reptilian and frightening animal. The addition of the animal in the foreground is also puzzling. The head looks like that of a Deinosuchus, which was a Late Cretaceous crocodile of North America whereas Baryonyx was an Early Cretaceous denizen of Western Europe. If anyone else can pinpoint this for me, please feel free to correct me in a comment.
Luis Rey's interpretation borders on the night time scene as either dawn or dusk and while this, for humans, is usually one of the more popular fishing times, it is not exactly this that stands out most prominently from Mr. Rey's interpretation of Baryonyx. The striped coloration, while unique, and almost hadrosaurian by dinosaur illustration standards, is not all that surprising either. The fact that the foreground and background animal have different colorations is interesting as well, though. The thing that ultimately drew me into this piece is the eye and the small crest located between the eyes. The coloring and the crest point to sexual dimorphism and we can support that theory by looking at the background animal which has neither a crest nor the stripes of the foreground animal.The eye is more catching than anything else, however. In most other examples of this animal, and most dinosaurs these days, the eyes are much more like ours or horses with round irises and sometimes color (humans) and sometimes not (like horses etc). The reptilian eye in this illustration distances the animal from us and makes it more alien and frightening.
The final piece I put up yesterday and I'm putting it up again because Fabio Pastori has done such an excellent job looking at the animal in a variety of different ways in this one illustration that I think it is worth a great deal more study up close and personal.