STL Science Center

STL Science Center

10 September 2011

Old world, popular styling, and the Greg Paul update

The old world of dinosaur illustration is always tragically bad, amazingly impressive in what it did with the science available at the time, and devoid of colors. Well, not really that devoid of color. There's always brown and green involved. At any rate, on to this particular illustration. The upright bipedal nature of the Corythosaurus here is now outdated by modern anatomical reconstructions of the dinosaur which show that it was partially bipedal in its attempt to reach foliage, but mostly quadrupedal when walking or running. The crest on the head of this animal sticks out to a greater degree than many more current illustrations as well. The dinosaur pictured attacking this Corythosaur is supposed to be an Albertosaurus. It looks a great deal more like a Tyrannosaur though its anatomical features are almost correct in the modern sense of the reconstructions. The hands of this Corythosaur are also very strangely formed; they look as though they are splayed outward permanently and not able to form the soft delicate paws that we see in modern reconstructions.

The more modern, though not brand new Gregory Paul Corythosaurus, has a much sleeker, cow-like design to it that, to me, is much more pleasing to the eyes than the first illustrations based on the radically incorrect anatomical reconstructions of dinosaurs. Here I present two versions, one done by an artist that I could not find the name of and the other done by a deviantART friend named IsisMasshiro. Both are anatomically correct and up to today's anatomical and dinosaurian illustration standards, however, the coloring of the animals differs. In both we can see that the crest of Corythosaurus has taken on the more accurate helmet shape that is associated with the dinosaur and not the audacious ornament found in the older illustrations and drawings. Another thing I like about the crest in particular is the coloration added in these illustrations to make the dinosaurs appear more as though they are using the crests to identify and ornament their species. In the older paintings the crest is the same coloration as the dinosaur; typically green or brown. Here, the unknown picture has a blue crest but no real camouflage on the dinosaur while Isis' dinosaur is heavily camouflaged with a bright yellow-orange crest. Either way, the crest was most likely used as both resonating chamber for calls and identification in the species for individuals and mating purposes. These illustrations show this quite well. The other thing they both show well is the nature of the front legs and the manus. While Isis' has more of a grasping hand, still better than the older drawings, the unknown artist has portrayed his dinosaur with a more foot like manus. Isis' dinosaur, therefore, is portrayed as more bipedal while the other as more often quadrupedal. Both are done well and the exact amount of time spent in either quad or bipedal locomotion is open to debate so both interpretations are equally well received.

The last piece of illustration I wish to share is waiting on an email from Gregory S. Paul himself. Without his permission I can only direct my readers to his Zazzle account and, I have blown up the design (Corythosaurus is just above the word "Hadrosauroidea") and have posted a link to a direct image from the site of the blown up design, a shirt that contains many, if not all, of his Hadrosaur concepts making Corythosaurus rather small and difficult to see the details of. I have to admit that part of me, which recognizes Paul as an innovator in dinosaur anatomy, was very impressed with his updated version of Corythosaurus while part of me, the traditional part that loves the illustrations I grew up with.

Paul's Corythosaurus has many of the anatomical features of the nearly modern illustrations and is very much like them in many respects. The one feature that really stands out is the neck of the newest Corythosaurus of his design. This neck is much more cow-like than even the very cow-like illustrations above. Actually, the Corythosaur's neck makes it look like a Brahmin bull. You just have to take it in and absorb it to really and truly love it. Of course, you may just not like it. Personally, I'm still a little torn on how I feel about. I think it's one version of the species, maybe not the only version available, but only time will tell if its correct, another version of the species, a combination of things, or not at all plausible.

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