Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In Which Adam Talks About Weird Paleontology Art

Well, I am back!

Anywho, for today's topic, I shall be discussing David Peters, apparently a rather infamous figure in the paleontology world. Now, Tricia and and the Paleo King (check out their discussions on the matter here and here if you are curious) have had previously discussed him a while back, and I apologize to them if I come off as a bit of a copycat, but this is frankly just too amusing, and I feel that I need to share.

Basically, David Peters is an illustrator focusing in paleontology art. And if I may say so, he is quite splendid at it. He has published a few books of the years, and his art in them is really quite stunning.
You see?

The problem of course, is that Mr. Peters is not a paleontologist (despite what he might think.) And he has had some...shall we say interesting hypothesis on pterosaur reconstructions, and anatomy. Let's look, shall we?
Something seems...awry here....

"Well, okay," you say, "The posture's a bit strange. And It has that big silly head crest up top. But is this really as big a deal as you are making it to be?"

Well okay, I will give you that much. And there are in fact pterosaurs with crests as big (and goofy) as that. (Look up Nyctosaurs if you think me untruthful.) How about we look at one of Mr. Peters's own reconstructions (followed by my take on it.)
It looks like he spilled ink all over his drawing...
Don't ask me what I was thinking with the color scheme. I was sick, okay?

Convinced you yet? Basically, in addition to some unusual theories that pterosaurs were in fact more related to lizards then to dinosaurs, crocodiles and other archosaurs, as is more commonly thought, he rather infamously came about his interpretations of fossils by taking prexisting photos of the fossils, and then drawing over them in photoshop where he thought he saw any detail.


I'll just let that last bit sink in a bit.

So basically, the result of this, was that Mr. Peters would see a natural dent in the rock, or a crack where the animal's bone had fractured, and assume it was a natural feature in the creature's anatomy. In another example of how this can have awkward results, he drew the pterosaur Jeholopterus with vampire fangs and a angler fish-esque dangling thingwhat on its head.

So, I thinks to myself, perhaps Mr. Peters should take his talents and apply them elsewhere. Please take note that this is not meant as an insult to his talents, it is most certainly not. Rather, think of it from this perspective:
A loud screech is heard just past the horizon, and the hunters dove for cover, crowding into their holes in the cliftside wall, and mounting their hastily prepared headbows to their frontal crests. This is the day they had all been waiting for. Tonight they would return to their families like heroes, and eat like kings. But they must not be too overeager. It approaches.

It soon reached them, the sun glinting over iridescent fur and leathery flaps whipping back and forth in the rough wind. It let out a scream as the first of many arrows hit it, responding by letting out barrage of fine down from its underside, which immediately set cliffside aburst in yellow flame. But they had readied for this too. Working quickly, they released their dam, causing hours worth of built up mud and silt to torrent down the cliff walls, and quenching the flames, all the while continuing their assault. Within minutes of work, the creature was down.
Now, ignoring my (possible lack of) capacity for writing, what I am saying here is that Mr. Peter's designs would be absolutely perfect for a fantasy setting! Just picture it! Vibrantly colored airborn reptiles, all with numerous crests, airsacks, contours and spines. It would make some great world building!

Anywho, that is just my take on the matter. Should anyone care to see more of David Peter's reconstruction work, here's his webpage:

Adam out.

1 comment:

  1. There's something Peters-y in the water, isn't there? Love your interpretations of his critters!


Always nice to hear what you have to say. =]