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February 6, 2008
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On Greg Paul-styley Skeletal Poses

Journal Entry: Wed Feb 6, 2008, 4:30 PM

<img class='logo' src='palaeo.jconway.co.uk/_images/l… / width='75px' height='100px'>John Conway's Palaeontography
Visit my palaontographical website, and get a free dinosaur!


Greg Paul's running pose seems to have become the standard posture for skeletals of dinosaurs, and although I don't particularly like it, I've got no real gripes with it, and that's not what I'm going to complain about.

It's his posing of pterosaurs that worries me - the wings up, one foot pushing-off pose. A lot of people have followed his lead on this, so I think it's important to point out that it's probably wrong. Pterosaurs did not launch like that, they almost certainly launched quadrupedally, with the hand being the last thing to leave the ground. This was Jim Cunningham's idea originally, but others have picked up on it. There's one paper out (I think it's in Chatterjee et al. 2004, Posture, Locomotion, and Paleoecology of Pterosaurs. geosociety.org), and several more in the works on this.

So even though it looks cool, it's doubtful they ever struck such a pose, and hence it's not really good for skeletals. That's why I don't pose them that way, and instead always do a dorsal and lateral view, and removed the legs in the lateral view. It's not the only way it could be done, of course, but the Greg Paul-styley ones have to stop.

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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
The single pterosaur skeletal I ever did (no, you may not see it) was pushing off the left foot in a "sorta rapid" quadrupedal gait. I wouldn't bother to do a takeoff position for the same reason I don't do them for volant theropods; it's hard to render and a stance that statistically speaking is very uncomon compared to other possible gaits.

Maybe someday I'll do more pterosaurs, but that'd take time I don't have atm.
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:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2008
Standardising skeletal poses is tricky, and I'm not sure what the best approach is. But I do think the wings-up foot-pushing-off pose for pterosaurs is actively misleading and should be avoided.

I've been talking to ~MattMart about a website which would be a resource for palaeontological artists - which would include things like skeletals in SVG format which we could all edit and repose. Sorta like open-source skeletalling. It would remove a lot of the duplication of effort going on at the moment. Wadda ya think?
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
I have mixed feelings about this. I think that opensource images are the future (and we certainly need to reduce our duplication of efforts), but at the moment I make a not-totally-insignificant portion of my income from these reconstructions. Of course I supply them to educational and academic people at whatever price they can afford (frequently free), but giving up copyright control would make it harder to put food on my plate (and more importantly my daughter's bottle).

At the least I'll donate them all to opensource in my will...
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:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2008
Indeed, that's a valid concern, and I've given it some thought. One solution is we put them under a non-commercial license [link] If they are to be used commercially the license fee goes to the principal contributer(s) (admittedly this could get complicated if a lot of people work on on skeletal).
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:iconscotthartman:
ScottHartman Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
In case it wasn't clear from my rambling, good post, I agree.
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:iconarchosaurian:
Archosaurian Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2008
Back in the day I used to draw pterosaur skeletals walking or standing on all fours since it was the only position that there was little debate on. I then noticed that this position obscured too much of the body and could not convey the shape of the humerus well since it had to be foreshortened on account of perspective. While debating to myself whether I should go with the Greg Paul style, the traditional 'dorsal/ventral with head in lateral' style (which was almost immediately tossed out) or your style it occurred that while the Greg Paul position is unlikely is the most straightforward in describing the shape of the skeletal elements, giving both an account of body proportions and those of the legs and wing with minimal obscuring of skeletal elements. Additionally, the Paul style is 'cleaner' when placing the skeletal in a comparative panoply of other pterosaur species – there is one skeletal per species and no potential for confusion in that respect, they all provide sufficient illustration of important points of comparison, and they take up less space. Sure, the "dorsal view + lateral view sans limbs" style certainly has its benefits in correctness regarding locomotion and shows additional views, making it somewhat more comprehensive, but the Greg Paul style has its benefits in spite of the inaccuracy.
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:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2008
The problem is that it strongly suggests that is how they launched, which is misleading. It also implies a more erect stance than they had. A different way should be found to avoid these misleading aspects.
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:icontehfuzzyduck:
TehFuzzyDuck Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2008
Very cool :)
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