Friday, 31 January 2014

Funny looking dinosaurs in vintage comics Part 1

When one stumbles upon dinosaurs in old comic books it's impossible not to wonder how little did those authors know about the anatomy and life styles of prehistoric animals. It is true, that in the 40's, until the 80's little was known and published. However, still some excellent paleo artists were around, like Zdenek Burian and Charles Knight, to name just the most prominent two.

A classic comic book theme: Time travelling to go to hunt dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals

Here is how  Burne Hogarth depicts Tyrannosaurus (I presume that is what this is supposed to be).
 Burne Hogarth (December 25, 1911 – January 28, 1996) was an American cartoonist, illustrator, educator, author and theoretician... (Wiki)
The anatomy is all wrong: the neck too long; the head a tad too small; the arms too long; one finger too many on each arm; looks bloated; legs weak and plantigrade (should be digtigrade like in birds); tail too short, too thin and too flexible...

...on the other hand his elephant is not exactly correct either...

... when I look at it better, even the lion has some strange features...

 Don't get me wrong. I loved his final product: Tarzan comics.

Even in some more recent comics (from 90's) the dinosaurs are outdated. Pteranodon is not quite correct either.

Nathan Never is a black-and-white, science fiction Italian comic book, published monthly in Italy since 1991 by Sergio Bonelli Editore (Wiki)
Ankylosaur in the right lower corner is borrowed from Burian's Gorgosaurus vs. Scolosaurus painting. Pteranodon from another Burian's painting was also used as a reference. However, it is a pity, that these restorations were already outdated.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

More Istrian theropod tracks

More often than not, the dinosaur tracks are almost invisible to an untrained eye. Here are a couple of theropod tracks from the Cape Kamenjak (the Grakalovac Promontory), near Premantura, Istria, Croatia.  The site is of the Late Cretaceous age (Cenomanian). My interpretation is the yellow outline on the right. The upper and lower images are not to scale (note the size of my foot for reference).
Of course, there is a chance one can misinterpret an artifact for a true track. If there are more footprints on the rocky surface you are surveying, the better chances are the questionable ones are genuine as well.

Measuring points for a right theropod footprint. For the left one, you just flip the image.

 Some of the better preserved, more visible tracks from the same site were described in the paper free to download.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Measuring a theropod footprint

Finding the dinosaur tracks is always exciting. Especially if they are from very large animals. This theropod seems to have left the print of its true heel (the metatarsals) as well. This footprint without the metatarsals impression and with the missing tip of the toe # III (the broken off rock) taken into account, according to the shape and the relative dimensions of the other smaller prints on this site (Pogledalo promontory of the Main Brijun island, Istria, Croatia). measured about 60-65 cm in length: This translates into a theropod that was about 9-10 meters long. It is a left foot impression. The trackway is from the Early Cretaceous, Barremian age. Some 125 million years old.

The tracksite has been described in the paper free to download.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Cretaceous art

My 1999 Quetzacoatlus illustration in a 2014 digital update.

 A quote for today:
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.”
― Albert Einstein

"... and I get the confirmation for that theory every time I drive a car on a busy road."
- Oberon

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Forbidden planet's Monster from the ID part 3

 The real looks of the invisible monster Id from the Forbidden Planet

The look at the Morbius' peaceful looking villa with the lake on Altair IV. Nice matte painting with glittering water effects:

As a kid I went to see the Forbidden Planet movie as often as I could. Luckily for me, in the 60's and even 70's the film reruns in the Zagreb's numerous movie theatres, were quite frequent. One of the mysteries that bothered me was: What did the Monster of Id, that ultimate Bogey man,  really looked like if it were visible? Only the fire from the blasters, or if you like it more, from the flying saucer crew's disintegrators, made the monster shimmer in translucent light. In fact the kind of stroboscopic effects and the brilliant classic cell animation made the monster convincing. Even by today's tough standards, the sequences featuring the Id monster can go hand in hand with the best products of modern cg animation. In fact, I haven't figured out the exact looks of the invisible monster (notice the controversion here? ;-) until I have decided to make a restoration myself.
I wasn't satisfied by the restorations I have found by searching for images on the Internet. Anyway, I've done that hundreds of times with prehistoric animals. Using the stop function of any movies PC viewer makes it a piece of cake. So here is my pencil drawing of the Id monster. It's quite a bizarre looking creature created by a sort of symbiosis of the Dr. Morbius' subconsciousness and the almighty Krell machines. A biped, with no front limbs, with an oversized devilish looking toothy head placed on short torso and with a fat stumpy tail.

You must admit that, even when revealed in it's true form the Id monster looks intimidating. The Morbius' alter ego apparently wears doc's (Walter Pidgeon, 1897 – 1984 ) distinctive goatee. However, it looked more scary as featured in the movie and half-visible. Even more so, when invisible and melting down the doors of "indestructible" Krell metal.

 The Tasmanian Devil, often referred to as "Taz", is an animated cartoon character featured in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes series of cartoons. Does he remind you of something or someone?

 After all, both images (the Id monster and the Cartoon character) are the products of the human imagination.
 But there's also, although remote, a resemblance with the Late Cretaceous (70-65 mya) theropods, like the northern hemisphere tyrannosaurids and peculiar southern hemisphere abelisaurids. While some Tyrannosaurids obviously still had some use from their shortened hands, the front limbs of abelisaurids seemed were quite useless and heading towards the rudimentary ones. If the great cataclysm, which wiped out all the dinosaurs (except the birds), wouldn't have happened, it is quite possible that some of the advanced long-legged theropods would have been without the front limbs. It was a matter of a mere few millions of years, which they didn't have to evolve further.

Abelisaurid Kryptops in my life restoration:

What is Id in psyhology?

"The id consists of all the inherited (i.e. biological) components of personality, including the sex (life) instinct – Eros (which contains the libido), and aggressive (death) instinct - Thanatos.
The id is the impulsive (and unconscious) part of our psyche which responds directly and immediately to the instincts. The personality of the newborn child is all id and only later does it develop ego and super-ego.
The id demands immediate satisfaction and when this happens we experience pleasure, when it is denied we experience ‘unpleasure’ or pain. The id is not affected by reality, logic or the everyday world.
On the contrary, it operates on the pleasure principle (Freud, 1920) which is the idea that every wishful impulse should be satisfied immediately, regardless of the consequences."

The definition was borrowed from here: Symply Psyhology

A nicely writen review on the movie.

 Movie mistakes, goofs and bloopers

Thursday, 23 January 2014

A few paleo artist's thoughts on the paleo diet

In recent years, the so-called "paleo diet" is gaining in popularity. 

"The paleolithic diet is a nutritional plan based on the presumed diet of Paleolithic humans. It is based on the premise that human genetics have scarcely changed since the dawn of agriculture, which marked the end of the Paleolithic era, around 15,000 years ago, and that modern humans are adapted to the Paleolithic diet.
The Paleolithic diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils."
(from Wikipedia)
Looking at this topic as a paleo artist, I may say, I am rather sceptical about the whole paleo diet concept.  First of all, I am quite positive, that there is definitely not enough data available to make certain that the diet practised by our predecessors was the same one as proposed by the authors of the "Paleolithic diet". I doubt it is even close to it. So, the diet is only a theory. An educated guess. The humans were highly mobile and nomadic in the old days. Their habitats were diverse and the food available to them was different, regarding the climate and geographic area they had occupied. Even today, in the global market, this is the case. The diets differ greatly from country to country. Often even the neighbouring countries have quite different menus. In some cases the food is extremely different. Take for instance what the typical Inuits eat and what the peoples of Indochina eat. Reconstructing the proposed paleo diet is in my opinion, like trying to make a life restoration of a "dinosaur". A painter friend of mine, who obviously didn't have a clue on the subject of paleo art, once proposed to make a sculpture of a "generic" dinosaur on the Main Brijun island (where the numerous dinosaur tracks are preserved). I thought the idea was hilarious, because nobody can make such a sculpture. Dinosaurs were just too diverse a group of animals. Well, I think the same about the paleo diet. It is trending now, because the reasoning behind it sounds logical at first hearing. All of you who think it may work, or even got some positive results from already going through paleo dieting, go ahead. Knock your selves out. I'll stick to the variety of foods the modern civilisation has provided us. Deep inside, all of the dieters who intend loosing excess weight, know that the basic problem is the intake of too many calories and not exercising enough.

Here is a fun article on the subject:

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Nyctosaurus - a pterosaur with a large crest (BDW repost)

This is a repost from my "extinct" Geocities site.

Illustration of Nyctosaurus KJ2 flying - by Beri (digital), Copyright © 2004 BERI

Christopher Bennett from University of Bridgeport Bridgeport, CT, described a couple of exciting fossil specimens of pterosaurs: Nyctosaurus - a pterosaur with a large crest
Bennett S. C. 2003. New crested specimens of the Late Cretaceous pterosaur Nyctosaurus. - Palaeontologische Zeitschrift, 77 (1): 61-75, 6 figs., 1 tab.; Stuttgart.

Nyctosaurus turned out to have an extremely large cranial crest nearly three times the length of the skull and bifurcating into an upward extending and a shorter backward extending ramus. Whether these supported a sail-like membrane is at the moment a pure speculation. As Chris notes: "I discussed the question of a membrane between the two rami of the crest in the paper and concluded that there was no evidence of any membrane between the rami and good reason to think that there was not one. Despite that, for some reason that I cannot understand everyone else seems to think that there was a membrane between the rami." Evidence is based on 2 specimens in a private collection. No species name is applied and the specimens are refereed to as KJ1&KJ2.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Dinosaur of the day

This is my life restoration of one of the recently discovered theropods, or better say recently described ones: Lythronax argestes Loewen et al., 2013. Lythronax argestes, translates roughly as Southwestern king of gore and this dinosaur inhabited  the ancient island continent of Laramidia (now southern Utah of the US) around 80 million years ago (the Late Cretaceous period). At the time a rising inland sea divided the North American continent. It is estimated that this toothy and agile  great...great grandfather of the notorious T.rex grew up to an estimated 8 m (26.2 ft) in length and weighed 2.5 tonnes (5,500 lb). In short: you wouldn't want to met him in the open.
The detailed description of the fossil and it's environment can be found in the paper, and the Wikipedia, of course.
The paper in PDF is free for download:
 Loewen, M. A.; Irmis, R. B.; Sertich, J. J. W.; Currie, P. J.; Sampson, S. D. (2013). "Tyrant Dinosaur Evolution Tracks the Rise and Fall of Late Cretaceous Oceans". In Evans, David C. PLoS ONE 8 (11): e79420.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Sunscription by Email

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 The Main Brijun (Istria, Croatia) Early Cretaceous scene some 125 mya. Digital painting by Berislav Krzic:

Forbidden planet's Monster from the ID part 2

Flying saucer's Commander and the medical Doctor examine the cast of the monster's footprint. Their discussion:


BDW (Beri's Dinosaur World): - And yet, the good old doctor was quite wrong in his assumptions regarding the nature of the tracker as well as the nature of the the other real creatures that lived or are living on Earth.
First of all there's no way a footprint would have been preserved in such a detail to enable making a plaster cast of the quality featured in the movie. Second, the depth of the footprint is more related to the substrate material and its consistency than to the size or the weight of the animal. I have seen very deep fossil tracks left by the small dinosaurs and very shallow left by the giant ones. Even if the ID was walking on an ideally prepared clay, taking the foot out of it would deform the footprint's impression.
fact is that the arboreal living sloths have claws much different than the claw on the foot of the ID monster. In fact the sloth claws resemble the claws of a giant dinosaur Therizinosaurus. Here is the left arm of the three-toed sloth (Bradypus). The three-toed sloth's long claws are are adapted to an arboreal life but restrain its mobility on the ground.

Right hand and right foot (with a bit shorter claws) of Bradypus:

 The left foot of the extinct giant ground sloth mounted in NHM in London. (Photo credit: B.Krzic)
It looks as if from a biped, but ground sloths were primarily quadrupeds.

Left hand of Bradypus

Note the similarity of the tree sloths hand claws with the long, laterally flattened, slightly curved claws on the right hand (manus) of the giant dinosaur Therizinosaurus:

Source: Wikipedia

Dromaeosaurid killing sickle-claw was also compressed laterally. Here is the right foot of Deinonychus armed with the curved claw on toe #2:

In fact the ID's foot can be defined as a titanosaur sauropod foot armed with the allosaurid finger #1 claw.

Doctor in the movie measured the footprint cats of the monster:  37 INCHES BY 19 (about 90 cm long), quite shy compared to the Early Cretaceous sauropod footprints I have found in Istria: 130 cm long! ID's height = 460 cm.

Here is a rather good, but not quite complete (part of the heel is missing) natural cast of the right foot of the small sauropod (a titanosaur?).  You can see the little knobs, impressions of the toes. For size comparison: the little black bag is 13 cm long.

Here is the left footprint cast (130 cm long) of the giant sauropod from the same site. It is almost complete, but the impressions of the toe claws didn't preserve (photo credit: Berislav Krzic)

The ID's footprint cast of the right foot from the movie (below). A peculiar resemblance to the true sauropod track in the photo above (photo credit: Berislav Krzic)

 My restoration of the suropod's left foot based on the positive foot impression:

It is interesting to note that some quadruped dinosaurs were facultative bipeds. It's not just that they were capable of rearing up on their hind limbs, like the modern elephants can do, but it seems some were capable of walking or even running in both modes. Here is a paper on one such find:Tracks of a Running Bipedal Baby Brontosaur? Baby Sauropod Footprints Discovered in Colorado - Science Daily
Trivia for the end of this post:

The (animated) "big as a house", invisible, indestructible biped monster of ID in a shimmering light from blasters' fire in a climax scene in the movie.

Here is the best model of the ID monster I've seen: Forbidden Planet's ID Monster
 It is still not the real thing in my opinion. So, you'd better check out my restoration in the 3rd instalment of this article.