What secrets lurk unknown?

In addition to the official talks and posters at SVPCA there’s always various discussions and meet-ups to get people talking and the science discussed. This year however there was a bonus presentation by John Conway on ideas that might just be possible (if incredibly unlikely) for dinosaurs that we can’t disprove becuase we have only bones and tracks. In short, John was deliberately pushing into the territory of the deeply implausible and reasonably unreasonable reconstructions to give us a good laugh, but also make us think.

This was described by Mike Taylor as “Brilliant but retarded” and it was an apt description. The images were, as ever fro John, beautiful and evocative, but the ideas mental and would be ludicrous were it not for the fact that they are just sort of remotely possible and he knew full well what he was doing. Anyway here are a few of them. My thank to John for letting me use them and a reminder that these come courtesy of John’s Ontograph Studios.

First off, a near impossibly well camoflaged Majungasaurus:

Second here’s some monstrously fat Parasaurolophus. They rather remind me of sheep in their shape, though of course without the wool.

Moving towards sauropods, here’s a Camarasaurus (well, a young one) rolling in mud as a sunblock and general skin treatment plan. The point here is not so much the mud rolling, which seems pretty likely to me, but really could a sauropod get down and really roll around like that?

Next up, John’s tribute to a famous photo of a duck. Who knows, maybe Citipati really did have this:

And finally this picture of Tenontosaurus. As John notes, contrary to every other piece of palaeoart of this animal ever, at least some individuals probably spent some of their time not being torn aprat by a pack of Deinonychus.

18 Responses to “What secrets lurk unknown?”

  1. 1 dobermunk 21/09/2011 at 8:53 am


  2. 2 mattvr 21/09/2011 at 1:19 pm

    I LOLed.

    Then went cross eyed trying to find Majungasaurus.

  3. 6 Jura 21/09/2011 at 3:57 pm

    Surely the Tenontosaurus pic is the least likely. We all know they are born with packs of Deinonychus surrounding them. 🙂

  4. 7 Bryan Riolo 22/09/2011 at 12:35 am

    Conway is an excellent artist. The pics are interesting. You have objections to their plausibility in some respects. I have objections to the leg structures shown in all the pics in which legs are shown, especially the Camarasaurus. And the Parasaurolophus. And the lonely Tenontosaurus. Citipati? No objection, though its penis might be a little too short. 😀 The Majungasaurus? Hard to tell! That is my favorite pic of this group.

    WHY do so many paleoartists draw/paint/whatever! dinosaur legs so skinny? The poor creatures look like they’re on stilts. They look like they’ll sink into the ground. I have the same objection to a number of the 3D CGI dinos I’ve seen otherwise so well. The BBC Allosaurs look like long-necked balloons, with a tail, on stilts. Nothing I know of about Allosaurus skeletons supports those restorations, other than sharp teeth, bipedal stances, and bad tempers.

    “Dinosaurs are related to birds, so much so that birds are DINOSAURS!” True. I buy it. Fine. Something the size of a Caracharodontosaurus (as seen on Dinosaur Revolution, if I remember correctly) is not going to have robin style legs and feet. Just look at large ground birds, like rheas and ostriches to see what I meant. And, if I remember correctly, moa limb elements have been found with scales etc. still on them. Not passerine style, nor even snipes.

    What gives?

  5. 8 Mark Robinson 22/09/2011 at 4:30 am

    I think Mr Conway is confused. Surely all of the Deinonychus are simply clinging onto the left flank of the Tenontosaurus?

    One ecological niche that used to be filled by sauropods and/or hadrosaurs in earlier dinosaur books was that of the hippopotamus. I know that there were freshwater mosasaurs, some of which were at least partially herbivorous, but I wonder whether there were any dinosaurs that were truly semi-aquatic and ate plants?

  6. 12 calamitycrow 22/09/2011 at 8:17 am

    I really enjoy your blog – so I was very, very disappointed to open this post and immediately get hit with the word ‘retarded’ being used in such a derogatory manner.

    You’ve often criticized people for not using paleo words correctly and in context, it would have been nice to see you extend that same consideration to those who either live with the diagnosis of mental retardation, or have family members or friends who live with the diagnosis.

    • 13 David Hone 22/09/2011 at 8:40 am

      Well I’m sorry if you are offended. That was, obviously, not the intent. My apologies.

    • 14 Kilian Hekhuis 22/09/2011 at 11:03 am

      “Retarted” as a word for those lacking certain mental capabilities is a euphemism just as “imbicil” and “idiot” once were. That doesn’t mean that we should not use the word in one of its other uses.

      • 15 David Hone 22/09/2011 at 11:11 am

        Well yes, and ‘cretin’ and ‘moron’ for that matter.

        Though I accept that the word I repeated is not really at the stage in language as those and I understand that it can, and clearly has, upset someone. So let’s just draw a line under this and try to leave it at that.

      • 16 Bryan Riolo 08/05/2013 at 11:51 pm

        Retarted” as a word for those lacking certain mental capabilities is a euphemism just as “imbicil” and “idiot” once were.

        Silly! Retarted means marrying the same ho you left before. WHY so many badly spelled words?

  1. 1 The Elephant in the Cave: Accurate vs Familiar vs Usual in Paleoart « Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week Trackback on 28/11/2011 at 12:11 pm
  2. 2 Speculative sauropod sketches of SVPCA 2012 « Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week #AcademicSpring Trackback on 18/09/2012 at 4:16 am
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