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Diplodocus longus by jconway Diplodocus longus by jconway
Yay, meta-palaeontography.

When I was about fourteen or fifteen, I went to an exhibition called "The Great Russian Dinosaurs" at the Australian Museum in Sydney. Fresh-faced from my readings of Bakker, I was excited, and looking for a fight with all the stuffy orthodoxy I read so much about. Luckily, I found myself outraged at once at the mounting of the skeletons. Hadrosaurs rearing high! Ribs not properly swept back! I was spluttering with the kind of smugness that only a teenage fanatic can have, and decided that something must be said. So, I bailed up one of the palaeontologists travelling with the exhibition, and confronted him about one of the most heinous of crimes against the Light of the Dinosaur Renaissance: an ankylosaur with semi-sprawling front legs.

With a supercilious smile I enquire politely as to why he had mounted the creature in such a way. He smiled and said "Real animals move -- they change position sometimes". How was I supposed to fight with that? All my trackway data, my shoulder anatomy arguments, rendered moot by an evasive side-step. So, I thought, I suspect this man is an idiot; and I know just how to test him: asked him if he thought Velociraptor had feathers. "Maybe" he said, without a trace of sarcasm. Foiled! I stalked of to visualise the most feathers, erectest gaits, hottest blood, and fastest running dinosaurs I could from those evil mounts.

What's the point of all this you ask? Well...

My betrayal of the dinosaur renaissance. Guess what teenage John, sauropods were scaley and spikey. Sometimes they dragged their tails on the ground. And maybe they weren't always standing on their back legs to feed or fend off an Allosaurus running at a gazillion miles an hour.
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner May 22, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
First, let me concur with Squidy53 that Rhoda is a sweetheart, and I'm sure she'd love to see this homage (if you haven't already sent it). Now on to my opinion...

There's a lot good to be said of this painting; the atmosphere is fantastic (and does feel very classic late-Knightish), the animals are doing animalish things (rather than tearing around at top speed being uber-cool), and I am particularily jealous of the lush, impressionistic landscape you rendered (notice how in my artless attempts I generally leave the folliage woefully absent).

But there are some problems anatomicaly. No bunring at the satke, but I assume you mean for these to be anatomically accurate renditions, if perhaps ones that attempt to present a very counter-current visual image than most post-Dino Ren images. While admirable, there are a few problems that exceed what the evidence allows (in the event that you did not intend the image to fall within known anatomical boundaries, please ignore the following comments and bask in the artistic glory that is rightfully yours for producing such a aesthetically pleasing image):

1) The tail. This is the biggest one; while undoubtedly the tail could (and at least occasionally probably did) contact the ground, it probably could not do so at such a proximal location. The zygopophyses of the proximal tail are quite small and the condyle/cotyle articulations are very broad, which would have yielded limited mobility in the the first 15 or so caudals (with mobility gradually increasing from caudal 10 to 20). This was studied quantitatively by Myhrvold & Currie in 1997, who came to the same conclusions. The result is that even in maximum ventraflexion (which was probably not a terribly relaxing posture) you can't get the tail to contact the ground until around caudal 25 or a hair later (depending on assumptions about minimal zygopophyseal overlap), which is almost halfway down the tail. The occasionaly tail drag mark seen in trackways (and they are statistically insignificant, although they do occur) are very lightly impressed and usually show significant motion; as such they are probably better interpretted as the limp whip-lash postion of the tail dragging on the ground during locomotion.

2) The spikey things on the back: I've spoken at length with Kirby Sieber about these (he dug up the specimens in question) and the ones in your illustration easliy exceed their maximum size (by almost 100%). Also, there is no evidence that they are midline structures, and given their locations within the quarry it looks like they are better envisioned as keratinous structures along much of the dorsal surface (of course, there may have been a midline row as well). While still very reptillian in appearance, it would likely have been more reminiscent of crocs than iguanas. The midline-spike idea was largely invented by the initial reporters (Czerkas), who has previously shown favoritism to midline dermal-feature hypotheses. And other scal impressions not yet published from the same quarry show that the rest of the skin still had tiny little scales that would not have been visible from any kind of distance that would allow one to fit a whole sauropod into a scene.

Not that you could have known thew dermal stuff, so I thought I'd share post hoc. Keep up the good work!
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:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner May 23, 2007
I thought I probably was pushing it with the tail -- not too worried, because I intended to sacrifice a little accuracy for effect. (Or maybe it's tail's broken!)

The dermal stuff is interesting. I don't think anything too accurate can be done in that respect until it's published (I've never seen a picture!). Though in my defence I would say that variation among species must have occurred with respect to spine/scute size. Is it still thought that duckbills had a row of midline scutes? And Ceratosaurus? Ah, dinosaurs, too much to up with.
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner May 23, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
That's cool, I take no umbrage with people who sacrifice accuracy for artistic purpose...as long as they do it intentionally. And it works here, which is the important thing.

I hope the dermal stuff will be published soon, but I wouldn't hold my breath. You are certainly right about size variation amongst species, although in this case the dermal impression in fact comes from Diplodocus (although I don't know which species atm).

Ceratosaurus is still thought to have midline osteoderms, more or less like the spikey ridge that so many toy manufacturers have portrayed. Hadrosaurs do seem to have rows of non-bony scutes, and while there is a bit of variation in size and shape to them, they seem to maintain a one scute per neural spine rule, and there are no Greg Paulish frills known like he drew for Parasaurolophus (but then, there aren't dermal impression known yet Para.).

Skin impression wise, there is a lot of variation in the small details of individual scales (overall shape, micro-ornamentation, variation in size on an individual), but while several dinosaurs have larger scales for ornamentation (e.g. Carnotaurus, ceratopsians, corythosaur undersides) I have yet to see any dinosaur with "pavement scales" larger than a few mm. My sample is hardly all inclusive, but does include Carnotaurus, Allosaurus, a stegosaur, several hadrosaurs, a ceratopsian, and Psittacosaurus.

Anyways, keep up the good paleontographic work!
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner May 22, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
BTW, it really is a fantastic illustration, I was just trying to provide some anatomical commentary. If you find my post too obnoxious, feel free to hide it.
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:iconbensen-daniel:
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner May 20, 2007
Okay, you've already gotten a lot of comments on this one. Your picture is hilarious and lovely all at once (I never thought I would like a dinosaur that wasn't, at least somewhere, bright red, but every day we learn something new about ourselves). I'll let everyone else's comments about the cultural climate of paleontology stand, and just say one thing:
What's with the horizontal lines? Those ridgy, bumpy things? I thought at first they were the texture of the canvas under the paint, but they look too regular. Are they an electonric addition? Anyway, I wish they weren't there. They distract from the details, and that's sad to see in such a detailed pic as this one.
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:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner May 22, 2007
You know all my paintings are completely digital, right? I put canvas texture on all of them, which helps to soften the digital look -- but it can be tricky to get exactly right. I regenerate it for every resolution I export to, and sometimes (like with this one) I don't get it quite right. If I can ever be bothered to open up the monster 400mb file again I'll take another stab at it.
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:iconbensen-daniel:
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner May 22, 2007
Aha. Okay, I wondered if it might be something like that.
Well, my main problem was that the pattern is too regular and repetitive. It makes your pattern-recognition processes think something interesting is going on in the texture and distracts from the actual painting. If you want to soften the picture, I would suggest you throw some randomness into it. Find a photo online of something detailed and random, like sand on a beach, and layer that over everything. You might also play with the Clouds command in photoshop (if it's photoshop you use). Or you could just scan in a blank sheet of real canvas and layer _that_ over everything.
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:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner May 23, 2007
I don't like the clouds filter, I've never been able to make it work. It has already got a blurred noise layer which added randomness. It's not so much randomness I want as a slight dither. The canvas texture is a bastard to get right at variable resolutions. Sometimes it looks natural [link] and sometimes it does it's patterning thing. As I say, I'll see if I can take another bash at it, when I can be bother to fire it up again.
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:iconbensen-daniel:
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner May 23, 2007
You're right, it does work sometimes (or at least, I didn't notice anything weird about most of these pictures when I first looked at). It's only on this one and the Doswellia picture that the pattern looks weird. I think that's more a function of the picture underneath. Not many colors that stand out and lots of details makes the canvas pattern stand out...is the theory.
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:iconolofmoleman:
olofmoleman Featured By Owner May 19, 2007  Student Digital Artist
It's nice, but the tail looks all wrong, if it's being dragged like that on the ground it wouldn't be able to hold it's neck upright.
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