There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm.Ah, well, as I had mentioned before, I am currently working on writing/illustrating a children's dinosaur book (an alphabet book, specifically.) And while currently, my main attention seems to be figuring out just what microraptor plumage ought to look like...
- Theodore Roosevelt
I am still working on it, you see.
I may as well go to my absolute favorite place on earth, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH.) I haven't been there since that conference on lizards. So I figure I will make a drawing day of it, get a bit of dinosaur anatomy worked out, otherwise have a grand ol' time.
I really cannot stress how great this place is. Even the subway nearby is awesome. The walls are covered with different tile mosaics of different animals. Just lovely.
I'm afraid you will have to forgive the quality of these photos. My brother off in Germany is borrowing my camera, so I had to take these with my cell phone. Ah well.
Anyway, as I start to get weird looks for being that crazy person in the subway taking pictures of the walls, I actually make my way inside of the museum.
This rather grandiose display of an Allosaurus engaged in combat with a Barosaurus. And this is just the main lobby.
So, after a half an hour's waiting on line (Its a crowded summer day, what do you expect?), I am inside the museum!
And I promptly get distracted by the gift shop.
I mean, there are just so many books! And toys! And fossils! And, and, and....
I am distracted easily. Oh, and also there was a rather charming invertebrate display by the Real Insect Co, who I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the people from a few months back. They're really helpful, and if you have any interest in preserved insects, they are worth a checking out. I am getting myself distracted again.
But yes! Drawing! That is why I am here! Yes! So I am going to draw some extinct dinos...
Okay, so I manage dinosaurs, though not the extinct ones yet. I end up in the the African Bird exhibit, totally on the wrong floor. Still, no loss, and I want to draw plumage anyways.
Okay, okay, must go on, mustn't be distracted. Up to the top floor, I make my way to the extinct animal exhibits. The dinosaurs have two rooms, one for Ornithischians (bird-hipped dinosaurs) and Saurischians (lizard-hipped dinosaurs.) (Note that despite the names, modern birds are actually descended from the lizard-hipped dinosaurs. Odd, but true.) I start with the Saurischians.
There we go.
I sit down, I draw some sauropod skulls. Its peaceful, though I do get harassed a bit by some kids crowding around trying to look. Oh well, life goes on.
But then, tragedy strikes.
I begin sketching a Plateosaurus (a basal sauropodomorph ("basal sauropodomorph" is quite fun to say outloud. (I like recursive parenthesis, if you haven't noticed.))) But alas! My pencil runs out of lead! Despair! I quickly run to the gift shop and buy a pen, and while it is pretty cool that I now have a pen with dinosaurs on it, it is still not the same drawing wise. So if the further drawings here are a little wonky, you can at least know why.
Anyways! More from the Saurischia exhibit:
Allosaurus and Dilophosaurus skulls.
Struthiomimus, not reconstructed.
And two other things of interest from here:
Archaeopteryx. I always forget just how small these guys are.
Deinocheirus. Look at those big honkin' arms!
Alright, that is all for Saurischia, on to the Ornithischians!
Edmontonia, Anatotitan, and Protoceratops
Styracosaurus. An old childhood favorite of mine.
Anatotitan (A Hadrosaur.) I noticed that I took this picture from the exact same angle as the picture of them in the museum's wikipedia page.
Protoceratops with a nest of eggs.
A stegosaurus's thagomizer.
Well, that's all for the dinosaurs. But still, there is more! In addition to the two dinosaur exhibits, there is also a room devoted to other extinct reptiles, amphibians and fish, and two other rooms for extinct mammals and synapsids. Here's a sample:
A phytosaur, and
another archosaur that I (tragically) cannot recall the name of. Anyone able to help on this? a Prestosuchus. Thanks Albertonykus!
I'm pretty sure this is a mosasaur of some kind.
A large bony fish.
Dunkleostus's big, bony skull.
And from the mammals, a Brontothere.
And thus, my trip to the museum comes to its conclusion. I exit, in an almost zenlike state of peace (seriously, the place is really calming.) I stop by a nearby Japanese restaurant and have some ramen, and then I am on my way home. A good day is had by all.
Later on, I find this in a bookstore for surprisingly cheap. I think I may find it helpful for my book. (Again, plumage.)
Anyways, just as a recap, the AMNH is really a wonderful place. If you're not native to New York, but plan to visit at some point, really do include this as a high priority on your places to check out. It is worth it.
With that said, I will leave you with this additional book I had come by at my stop at Borders: