STL Science Center

STL Science Center

30 June 2011

A Fairly Popular Guy

Baryonyx is indeed that, very popular. There are numerous toys which at least resemble Baryonyx and there is also its involvement in Spore, Dinosaur King, and numerous museum displays and animatronics. Remember back to Sunday and you know there's even a website totally dedicated to Baryonyx. Let's start by looking at the number of toys. has four reviews on different company representations of Baryonyx. These are Schleich, Safari Ltd., Invicta, and Wild Republic. However, these are not the only representations which exist. A company named Collecta has a model that is fairly well detailed, for example.

As for videos, I'll leave those below and the reader can check these out at their own leisure:

29 June 2011

The Tale of Wealden Lake

In the Cretaceous the land was certainly different. For one, there were vast oceans where there is now land and the mountains we know where not as they are today. In Europe a large portion of England and France were under water and that body of water was called Wealden Lake. Deltas and alluvial plains and rivers drained into the Caspian Sea sized Wealden Lake near London and south in middle France. Along the shores and on the plains, deltas, and rivers lived many different prehistoric mammals, insects, fish, crocodiles, and dinosaurs. One of these dinosaurs was, of course, Baryonyx. In one particular delta, near what is known as Smokejacks Pit at Wallis Wood, Ockley near Dorking in Surrey (in red), a man named William Walker, an amateur fossil collector, stumbled upon a large claw sticking out of the clay on a January day in 1983. After excavating the claw with some help he contacted the Natural History Museum in London who then sent Alan Charig and Angela Miller to retrieve the remainder of the skeleton. In 1986 they wrote the description of the 70% complete skeleton which included the skull, making for easier description of the new and unique species, and gave it the name Baryonyx walkeri after its discoverer William Walker and its giant claw. The "lake" has unearthed many other animals and Baryonyx living along what would have been the plains, deltas, and tributaries have been found all over the United Kingdom including the Isle of Wight, in northwestern Spain (these include fossil trackways as well) and Portugal, and two claws in Niger Republic are thought to have come from a Baryonyx as well.

One of the interesting finds in England has been the bones and scales of fish found in the stomach area of Baryonyx fossils. This seems to positively identify Baryonyx as a fish eater (piscivorous) as believed. One view of how they hunted is that they hunted in the following manner:
waiting on riverbanks, resting on its forelimbs until a large fish such as Lepidotes (which was found in the belly of the type specimen in Surrey) swims past, then scoops it up with its large thumb claw. There were also Iguanodon bones in the stomach, so it may have attacked or scavenged them too. It walked on two legs.

28 June 2011


Articles on Spinosaurids are all over. Those pertaining to Baryonyx itself are fewer, but around. One paper we cannot see contains the abstract that follows:
An extremely large claw bone, some 30 cm long, was found in Wealden (Lower Cretaceous) deposits in a Surrey claypit in January 1983. This led to the discovery the following month of the well-preserved skeleton of a new large theropod dinosaur. Only one other theropod specimen comprising more than a few bones had ever been found in Britain, and that discovery was more than a century ago. Indeed, no large theropod, reasonably complete, had previously been discovered in Lower Cretaceous rocks anywhere in the world. Our study so far suggests that the Surrey dinosaur was a typical large theropod in certain respects, resembling, for example Allosaurus 1. In several other respects, however, it differs sufficiently from all known dinosaurs to merit designation as the representative of a new species, genus and family.
A full article I found that is quite interesting is about the discovery of Baryonyx remains in Portugal. As we know, Baryonyx has been found in England, Spain, and Portugal. This paper details what, where, and how the remains were found. It goes on to detail the details of the remains; a set of jaw bone fragments found in the Portuguese cliffs at Boca de Chapim 40 kilometers south of Lisbon.

Two other papers, one by Thomas Holtz and another Christiano Del Sasso et al., discuss more Spinosaurid anatomy, however, Baryonyx is included in the discussions. Del Sasso's article is about new studies on the skull of Spinosaurus and remarks particularly on its construction, size, and shape. Holtz's article, however, does a great deal more on the entire family of the Spinosaurids in that it discusses the entire family as a group of crocodile mimicking dinosaurs. This has been alluded to in past discussions and so his article makes for a very interesting return to topic in that regard. Additionally, it is just that sort of thinking outside the typical box that makes exploring in paleontology so much fun to me personally and so I rather enjoyed reading this out of the norm article; at least it was out of the norm with the other things I have read about Baryonyx to this point I should say.

27 June 2011

Baryonyx not on TV

Baryonyx doesn't make a lot of television or movie appearances, and that's okay. It's an interesting animal to learn about, but most of your learning is going to have to be done online or in books because it just won't be done too much on the TV. There is a slightly older video from the Brookfield Zoo when they were attempting to have patrons vote for their favorite prehistoric statues, so that is right here:

It's all in fun of course! The other mass of entries for videos on Baryonyx are either pop culture references or "tribute" videos. Find them here.

26 June 2011

A Wealth of Kid Time

Who knew Baryonyx would give so much to the children? First, there are the fact pages here and here. Now you can look at either one or both. The second one has slightly more information than the first, but the first site has its merits too. We move away from that, however, and move to London's Natural History Museum. The scientists here have been studying Baryonyx a long while; since it came from the soil of their country they have had a great opportunity to study it so long. They have dedicated a children's website called Finding Baryonyx to this pursuit and it contains many great activities and games for kids to play as well as videos such as this one with Adrian Doyle explaining how some of the tools used to excavate have improved over the years. There are also other dinosaur games and facts on these pages and there's even more to the kids section than that if you click on the kids only link.

Finally, the coloring. There are many pages out there for Baryonyx, but the two below are my favorites. The first on I recommend because it is very factual as well as fun to color. The second one I recommend because I've already colored (as you can see right beside this!).

25 June 2011

Baryonyx illustration

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.

©Davide Bonadonna
 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
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 V. Rey
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.

©Fabio Pastori
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.

24 June 2011

Welcome Baryonyx

©Fabio Pastori

Baryonyx, meaning heavy claw, was found, in part, in Dorking, England originally. Skeletal remains have also been recovered in Spain and Portugal as well. The long snout, claws,teeth arranged at large intervals and fine serrations on the teeth make Baryonyx one of the very few piscivorous dinosaurs that can be categorized as such with great certainty. The most complete specimen found to date is thought to be a juvenile and measured 28 feet long and about 1700Kg. The giant claw on the hand measured approximately 9.8 inches and is on the thumb or first digit of the manus. The jaws possess 96 teeth; 64 in the lower jaw and 32 in the upper jaw (mandible and maxilla for you bone fiends). They also possessed a crocodilian angle of bone near the snout which helps crocodiles to secure their prey and hinder its escape.

23 June 2011

Casting Call

Prenocephale does not show up in toys often. Not even our usual outlets, the Dino toy blog, the Dinosaur to collectors page, Dinosaur King character databases; none of them have Prenocephale in them. Similarity to other dinosaurs in its clade could be the reason for some of this, of course. Additionally, we know there is only one documentary, no other television, and no movie roles for Prenocephale. Perhaps it is just too average a dinosaur? There's no telling really. Like any animal, though, you can buy cast replicas of its skull! There are places in Europe as well as in America.

22 June 2011

Teresa Mayańska

Question: Who was the first to discover Prenocephale dinosaur?

Answer: Prenocephale was discovered in 1974 by Maryańska & Osmólska in Mongolia.

I think we have looked at Osmólska in the past due to her prolific career in Mongolia and the Gobi desert, however, I don't recall really looking into the exploits of Teresa Maryańska. First and foremost, finding a picture of any of the ladies of paleontology is difficult as can be, and Teresa Maryańska is no exception at all! Her last known whereabouts according to the wealth of knowledge that is the internet states that she was associated with the Polish Academy of Science which, at this time, has no listing for her. It is unfortunate for this community that its female members are, while seclusion and not being a celebrity are also great things at times, not followed very well by the sciences as a whole.

However, Maryańska, along with Osmólska, was a prominent Polish paleontologist during the 1964-1971 joint expeditions in the Gobi and is responsible for the describing of many species including the following: Saichania and Tarchia (1977); with Osmólska, Homalocephale, Prenocephale, and Tylocephale (and Pachycephalosauria) (1974), Bagaceratops (1975), and Barsboldia (1981); and with Osmόlska and Altangerel Perle, Goyocephale (1982).

21 June 2011

Prenocephale News and Theories

Type II and Type I skulls, respectively
left to right.
There isn't much to share today as far as published papers are concerned. In an article in American Paleontologist's Fall 2008 edition Peter Dodson dedicated his column to Osmolska and mentions Prenocephale briefly as he talks about her research and findings in Mongolia and the Gobi desert. One of the better papers I've been able to find today, however, is a general overview of the head-butting behavior that is typically thought to exist in pachycephalosaurs. This paper is older, from 1997 originally, and therefore uses Stygimoloch as a separate species (which is still in debate for and against its inclusion in Pachycephalosaur as a species) while examining two types of head ornamentations used by head-butting dinosaurs; domed frontoparietal domed skull and blunt horned squamosal skulls. I'll leave you to read the conclusion of the paper and create your own judgement.

In addition we can look at the Prenocephale ourselves a little to augment what is presented above. Prenocephale, being a pachycephalosaur of the frontoparietal domed skull variety had a large rounded roof to their skull formation. Unlike many pachycephalosaurs where the skull is typically the only complete skeletal region recovered the skull of Prenocephale was mostly complete and a majority of the skeleton was also found in the Gobi desert by a joint venture of Mongolian and Polish scientists and described in 1974. Its name means "sloping head" and this clearly refers to the slope seen in the dome toward the front of the skull.

The clipping beak of Zuniceratops
Like most pachycephalosaurs an omnivorous diet has been proposed for Prenocephale which included ferns, soft leaves, fruits, and insects and small lizards that the animal could catch. The idea put forth quite a long time ago that pachycephalosaurs could use their head to stun and knockout small prey is pretty much an antiquated theory and largely believed to be wrong (there is always someone that believes something somewhere so don't count it totally out even today!). Prenocephale would have to stick to soft leaves and fruits as an herbivorous diet due to its lack of a clipping beak found in other marginocephalian clades (i.e. the beaks of ceratopsians) which would make stripping leaves more difficult for the animal unless it had more articulated hands with which to grab leaves. Also unlike its sister clade, the pachycephalosaurs had less of a dental grinder and this would cause them to seek softer foods and fruits as well.

Though from an upward angle below
the skull, we can see that there is the
potential for the fields of vision to at
least slightly overlap.

The general idea with the skull, actually, is thought to be centered around intra-specific combat (other Prenocephale) and at extreme moments inter-specific defense (against predators mostly) of the individual. However, below that domed skull Prenocephale appears to have had rather large eyes for a pachycephalosaur and, though I have not seen a study on this, appears to have had the ability to possess some area of binocular vision. If it did indeed possess a solid field of binocular vision, this would give it depth perception and make head-butting, feeding, running in a herd, and life in general much more three dimensional for these animals which would give them quite an advantage over other dinosaurs. It is a pretty interesting theory to start off with.

20 June 2011

Documentary of the Planet

Dinosaur Planet was a short series on Discovery not too long ago (2003). It featured quite a few Asian dinosaurs in one of the episodes about a Velociraptor who lost its pack and was searching for food and a new niche in the world. You can watch the whole episode starting below or you can watch the small clip that Discovery presents here. The Prenocephale show up in the very first clip also, which is good. They sound like upright cows, which is cool too.

19 June 2011

Sunday Brief

Today I was busy as heck all day, and so I'm not going to do a lot of detail work here, but I found my favorite page- Dinosaurs for Kids- that has a good fact file for kids. I also found a very good coloring page actually. Check it out:

18 June 2011

Pictures of a Pachycephalosaurid

Prenocephale has not made it into too many grand murals, but there are some good images out there. There's this computer graphics made Prenocephale which was used on the Discovery Channel not too long ago for the short series Dinosaur Planet. Notice how the skull fits over the eyes like a soldier's helmet. It's quite an interesting placement of the skull ridge considering the technical drawings I have found of Prenocephale skulls which appear to have much less of a ridge. The beak is fairly small and clipped with small nostrils above the beak and the eyes appear small red in this image.

 One of the best technical drawings of the Prenocephale genera shows the aspects of the skull that mark it as a separate genera quite well from the very comparable Stegoceras. These are a lacking/closed supratemporal fenestra- an opening between the bones at the rear of the skull, usually below the post orbital and squamosal bones- as well as the absence of grooves along the prefrontals and a dome restrictive posterior parietal. One thing that is certainly missing from this drawing is the lower beak's upturned area at the anterior of the premaxillary bone. Even with a horny sheath covering it the jaw would need to turn up a little to form the beak we see in other images, otherwise the beak would be much more like those that we see in the other side of the Marginocephalia; the Ceratopsians, which had a beak much more readily designed for clipping off vegetation. Pachycephalosaurus itself does not possess this clipping beak and neither do the rest of the clade, to my knowledge, so it should be safe to say that this aspect is minorly incorrect here.

The last image I wanted to look at today is by M. Shiraishi, of whom we find a lot of work in the dinosaur world. Typically he is quite accurate in his work and he is also quite accurate to the known skull and bone fragments found for this animal in this drawing. The skull ridge, however, is notable in this version as it is less pronounced and it also lacks many of the parietal and squamosal nodes around the base of the ridge. I chalk that up to artistic license, which is fine, but probably the largest inaccuracy in the image.

17 June 2011


A Late Cretaceous dinosaur, Prenocephale was a small Pachycephalosaur from middle Asia. Living in what would have been the high upland forests of Cretaceous Mongolia, Prenocephale (and close kin/potential juvenile of the species Homalocephale) were the largest of their Asian kin. Some studies of fossils make this animal synonymous with some American species, meaning that Prenocephale may have been the largest Asian and also an average sized American Pachycephalosaur. Weighing in at about 290 pounds and measuring about 8 feet long it was, like many other Asian animals, fairly small; even "modern sized" in reference to the size of our wildlife today would describe some of the Asian dinosaurs. Prenocephale, however, was still a dinosaur despite its size and thus lived in a different world from us altogether. It was a world like this:

16 June 2011

A Thursday of Pictures

I thought I may as well show the rest of the interesting parts of the paleo exhibit from Houston. It's not everything that's there, but there's a lot to show still.

15 June 2011


Today, to keep us in stride, pictures of the Edmontosaurus(es) and T. Rex in Houston. The little one is 90% fossil, the bigger is 85% fossil and the Rex is mostly casts. They keep some Rex related fossils nearby though.

14 June 2011

Unfortunate Travel

On vacation I assumed the computer would work in the hotel. It did not, and therefore I am just now getting to update. Since it's too short for a whole dinosaur this week, I'll put up some tidbits from the museum I went to on Saturday. First and foremost, I watched Dr. Robert Bakker drawing Pterosaurs. I didn't stay to watch too long as my wife and I were sitting on a bench next to a staff only stairwell and I happened to look down and see one of my favorite scientists ever drawing flying reptiles in a no visitors area; after a while I felt like I might get yelled at by someone from the museum or that I was just being creepy watching someone draw from a floor above them. When I sat down he was finishing a Rhamphorhyncus but I snapped a few pictures of his next drawing and took a really short video of him drawing the head. I can't tell what he was going for and I didn't get to hear him give the talk he was preparing these for because it was a member's only lecture. I was excited just to watch him draw though. Is it silly to say I was really excited to get to watch this?

Sorry about the lighting!

09 June 2011

Popular Cryolophosaurus

Despite its new face on the page of the Dinosauria, Cryolophosaurus has become quite popular already. In part due to its interesting head ornamentation no doubt, this dinosaur has appeared in many places that we have already visited; museums all over (as cast fossils of course), Dinosaur Train, tribute videos, Spore, The Field Museum's blogs, books, scientific papers and on. However, one place we haven't mentioned yet is the game (cards and video, the latter in this case) and show Dinosaur King. Here he sports a bisected crest. Another important place that Cryolophosaurus has shown up, important for a dinosaur's popularity that is, is the world of toys.

I'm not going to critique the toy as it has already been done quite ably by the people at the DinoToy blog but I will say that this toy has the single piece scalloped crest that we saw in the illustrations. Check out the Dinosaur Toy blog for a ton of other angles and a really intense critique on the toy itself.

08 June 2011

William Hammer

Someone we haven't mentioned much at all, mainly because his first headlining moment in paleontology was concurrent with the discovery and description of Cryolophosaurus a decade ago, is William Hammer, PhD. Dr. Hammer teaches at Augustana College in Illinois, a very small school, and is responsible for the majority of what's going on there in the Geological sciences. He has also been funded by the National Science Foundation and, as seen before, worked with the Field Museum and University of Chicago faculty and students. In addition to the original paper on Cryolophosaurus Dr. Hammer has written, with other authors, two more papers on the animal discussing its ancestry and body and behavior. Cryolophosaurus as a known species has a short history and that history exists, in a good part at least, because of Dr. Hammer's work.

07 June 2011

Quiet Day

I don't have much for the news today. Sorry to keep it short, but there just hasn't been much written. This article (Hammer, W. R. and W. J. Hickerson. 1994. A Crested Theropod Dinosaur from Antarctica. Science 264(5160):828-830. [with 3 text-figures]) exists but it's not online anywhere that I've found it. Perhaps later I'll get that article from the man I know has it. If anyone wants it I mean.

06 June 2011

Videos on Mondays

Videos today are basically self explanatory. One is from the Chicago Field Museum's blog in which they keep a detailed account of all the research going on that is tied to the museum. There's a Part I and a Part II to this discussion of Cryolophosaurus bones being dug up. Watch both! There are also videos on removing the bones and a report on what's going on in Antarctica. The last video is less than a week old, so it's pretty current info.

Also, a Spore video featuring a large chasing Cryolophosaurus and a video tribute featuring illustrations and models of Cryolophosaurus as well as music. A short day, but plenty of videos today.

05 June 2011

Cryolophosaurus for kids

No Dino Fact File today, sad! I love those because of the timeline and global pointer that shows the kids some visual info about the animals. Anyhow, without that we have some singing, which has been a staple of kids shows since Disney became Disney and, with dinosaurs since The Land Before Time 2-13 (?). However, PBS, in all their fantasticness, which is indeed a made up word, has always been on top of children's programming whether you care to admit it or not. We've all watched PBS at some point in our life for Barney or Sesame Street or Carmen San Diego or Thomas even and now, speaking of trains, there's the show Dinosaur Train to consider. Luckily for us Dinosaur Train has a character named king who is, obviously at this point, a Cryolophosaurus with a crest and a voice that is unmistakably an Elvis impersonation. In true form I found a clip of the "Elvisaurus" singing a tune.

©Josep Zacarias (
I also found a pretty good coloring page that we'll all love to color today. I'm hoping that the illustrator will allow us to use it and other animals in the future as he drew them for a coloring book he was trying to produce and they're fantastic for coloring books. We have, sadly, gone over a number of the animals he drew before I found his pictures, but you can use the link in the caption to investigate yourself as well. It's a well done piece of work and he has left out the proto-feathering of Beneteau, so you will not have to color those pesky feathers. Also note that he has included a scalloped crest rather than the highly decorated crest with eyespots that we saw in Beneteau and Conway's illustrations yesterday.

One last thing for today to share with your children and loved ones (or to read yourself if you are a child!) is the entry from the National Geographic Kids Ultimate Dinopedia: The Most Complete Dinosaur Reference Ever on Cryolophosaurus. The link on Cryolophosaurus is for the ready to read version on Google and the link on the title is for electronic shoppers!

04 June 2011

A lot of pictures!

©Alain Beneteau (
Cryolophosaurus, like any animal with crests that is long extinct and thus has no living color guide or there is no knowledge of their actual skin, is going to have some fantastic representations created by artists and scientists alike. This very nice study by Alain Beneteau looks a little bird-like, however, I really enjoy the intelligence in the eyes there as well as the eyespots on the crest. It is very reminiscent of the peacock and how he attempts to woo the peahen with his wonderful feathers. I think Mr. Beneteau does fantastic work in all honesty and I have another of his Cryolophosaurus pieces that I am going to share. However, the other notably fantastic bits of this study are the positioning of the arms, as they are held as paleontologists believe they were held; palms facing in toward each other. Additionally, there is some feathering added in here that, while some may question it, I find very fitting and appropriate for the birdlike state that this animal has been illustrated in here.

©Alain Beneteau
Beneteau's other illustration to be shown here depicts some playful interaction between a pair of Cryolophosaurus. Playful is how I see this at least, others may see rivals contesting one another or something else of that nature. It is obviously a nighttime scene on a rocky coastline in what we would now consider Antarctica. The fact that Beneteau depicts these large carnivores as so lithe and agile that they can jump into the air and down from a rock outcropping, respectively, denotes youth and sprightliness to most paleontologists because a large predator (the type fossil weighed in at around 1,030 lbs and is thought to be sub-adult) would not be much for jumping and sprightly activities; imagine an artist drawing a T-Rex jumping after animals hiding in trees. In fact, most animals shown jumping in documentaries or other artistic impressions of paleo-life are typically not large theropods with, to my knowledge, Eustreptospondylus being the only other lithe and large predator I have seen so depicted on film. Typically this fun, energetic, lively display of running and jumping portrayed in Beneteau's illustration here is saved for infants and Dromaeosaurs. Note, however, the lack of proto-feathering and the more earth-toned coloration of the crest in this illustration.
©Craig Brown (
The crest of this animal has also been depicted in other ways as well. In Craig Brown's piece here it is seashell shaped, scalloped I suppose, and does not serve any ostentatious purpose. This image leaves no clear purpose hidden in the crest, which is slightly disappointing, but perhaps there was nothing to the crest as far as the peacock is concerned and is simply a species recognition piece. It could be plausible that the reason it existed wasn't entirely sexual, however, it certainly was not for combat either as brittle as it was. Another interesting thing about this image is the tiger striping on the tail. The rest of the body is tiger striped a bluish green on teal but the tail is roughly black and grey, which is quite interesting.

©John Bindon
From a less than ostentatious coloring to an extraordinary lengthening of the crest we come to this illustration of Cryolophosaurus. Bindon's crests are split in half where our previous illustrations have skin folds connecting the two sides of the crest. Additionally the crests are taller, or perhaps it is the angle he created the head inclination at, but these crests do not possess any bird-like beauty to them either. That is not to say that they are not highly visible to predator and prey alike, but that they lack the multitude of coloring which other versions possess. Indeed, it may even be the height of the crests here which would intimidate or intimate relationships with other animals and is therefore another possibility which is very intriguing for us to consider. Is it the height of your crest, the width of your crest or the coloring of your crest which intimidates rivals and prey or creates awe and respect in the opposite sex for these animals? One other aspect that sticks out here is the river delta look to the background with a swampy looking foreground and what appears to be the beginning of a lushly vegetated forest behind the animals. Not many depictions of what Antarctica may have looked like then exist, but this interpretation is very pleasing to the eye and something less alien than some other depictions of the Mesozoic world.

From the artist about this drawing:

"Just a few notes about my choices for the crest design
I made it larger than what the fossil evidence suggests perhaps to indicate that he is a matriarch and his large crest is part of the dominance he might exhibit. Artistically, I wanted it to stand out visually.
Who is to say that the specimen [only one to date I think] is showcasing the full extant of the what that display hardware became. As the fossil is the boney core, one might guess how much of the living horny sheath may have developed to.
The crest halves emerge for the brow and may[likely] have met in the middle or maintained a gap. I chose a gap for design reasons. Literally hundreds of variations would have existed in life at any rate.
An oversight on my part not to at least indicate some kind of colouring display even though this painting was a monochrome of green and paynes grey."
©John Conway (

John Conway's Cryolophosaurus head demands a brief note as well. Here we see a back view of the head and crest. It is clear that this crest has some coloration to it like the first piece from Beneteau, but it is also scalloped like the crest displayed in Craig Brown's artwork. There are no feathered qualities to this head either and the muzzle actually appears dog-like at this angle. In all honesty the eyes appear sad in this version as well and we can see that this animal has fairly large holes for his ears. It's a very nice illustration.

03 June 2011

The New Guy in Town

Time to move back to the Mesozoic Ladies and Gentlemen. Is there any better way to come back to dinosaurs than with a crazy outlandish hood ornament atop your skull? A member of the Dilophosauridae, this animal was discovered in 1991 and officially named and described in 1994 by Hammer and Hickerson as the only species in its genus. Its crest is like Elvis' pompadour haircut and gave it the nickname "Elvisaurus." It was the also the first carnivorous dinosaur unearthed on the frozen continent of Antarctica. Ladies and Gentlemen, our new study for the week, Cryolophosaurus!
©Dmitry Bogdanov (

02 June 2011

Diictodon, Star of Hollywood

Diictodon- Amphibi-mole
Actually, star of BBC shows Walking with Monsters and an episode of Primeval as stated and shown time and again. Miniscule appearance in popular literature for over 100 years however, and no toys or plush animals- wouldn't that be adorable?- to speak of. How has an animal like this gotten under the radar so easily when we all know that the world loves cute little animals (as opposed to the "EW! Rodents!" version of see these animals) The answer isn't that difficult to figure out when you look at original interpretations and models made prior to those two shows which made them look like amphibians or moles. Would popularity be bestowed on them a lot earlier if they hadn't looked like moles or primitive amphibians? Who's to say really, we can't considering what we've seen is an animal that, when revamped with a new model skin, has become infinitely more popular with the populace of the world in which we live.

Dicynodon and Diictodon
One thing driving that, of course, is the sheer size of the animals. Dachshund size animals are generally regarded as cute (look at lap dogs, of which I am not a huge fan). While everyone adores the big beasts of prehistory sometimes it is easy to overlook animals like Diictodon based on their size.Still, why haven't we seen more than two television shows and a handful of skeletons when we know that there are many more skeletons out there? Why don't museums put up displays for them? Think back to the last museum you visited with a really great pre-Mesozoic display. It's difficult to do because very few museums really highlight the Paleozoic or even mention it at all sometimes. It leads to a very difficult road to popularity for Diictodon and it's small neighbors, even some of its large neighbors honestly.

I'm sure toys and plushies and other things will make their way out soon thanks to the on screen appearances of these guys, but for now we have to make due with Sid and Nancy (and sometimes Rex).