STL Science Center

STL Science Center

24 September 2011

A General Consensus

Plateosaurus is generally seen in a fairly typical dinosaurian fashion. Unlike some of the newer models of dinosaurs with feathers and becoming more strangely posed and altered in body shape (see Corythosaurus on the last one), Plateosaurus has always been fairly gracile in its posturing and, despite the illustration revolution, the body posture of Plateosaurus has not changed much in illustration over the years. That isn't to say that the shape and posture of Plateosaurus is ancient or that it just hasn't been updated by illustrators; in fact, Plateosaurus was one of the rare dinosaurs that was already "compliant" with the general shift in dinosaur posture prior to the shift, meaning that it was already holding its tail somewhat aloft and not looking like a slowly lumbering behemoth.

artist unknown
This wasn't universally true of course. However, for the most part Plateosaurus has been one of the exceptions to the rule where older versions of the dinosaur in illustration were deplorable. This leaves me in an interesting position on the day on which I typically point out anatomical rights and wrongs and interesting interpretations. The body of illustrations surrounding Plateosaurus is fairly uniform in that it contains mainly the same body posturing, manus/forepaw details, tail construction and even facial reconstructions.

One interesting aspect that I can point out, other than the general uniform appearance given to Plateosaurus by many different artists, is that the hand is well rendered in each and every image I have found. Facial reconstruction is done brilliantly by the artists as well, of course, but the hand, with all of its fine motor skills comes across in even the illustrations as possessing these finer motor skills. In Raul Martin's work (I can never seem to get a hold of him to discuss his work so apologies sir if you stumble across this on the internet) the hand is shown as clearly aiding in the mobility of Plateosaurus, yet it is still flexible enough that you can completely discern the range of motion needed for grasping with the clawed fingers. The middle portrait is a bit harder to draw taht conclusion with, though not so bad as to be completely wrong. The illustration below does the best job of showing the flexible fingers, even if it is a little bit of a fantasy.

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