Winner of the Run-off Poll and this September's Gallery!

Thanks to everyone who participated in one or both of our polls for the fall gallery. With the first vote tying and the second one being a near dead heat, a topic has finally emerged...

The turtles! With over 200 million years worth of the hard shelled reptiles to draw upon (pun intended :P), from both the land and sea there should be no shortage of diversity this September!

If you're new to the site, we accept any and all artwork submitted that is themed around any of our gallery topics. Just send your submission(s), along with any accompanying text you'd like with them, and the link to your website/blog/online picture gallery to our email, and we'll post them!

CIID 2011, results: "and the winner is... Davide Bonadonna!"

Diplodocus carnegiei vs. Allosaurus fragilis.

Yesterday, the museum of Lourinha has published the results of the last International Dinosaur Illustration Contest (7th edition).
The contest received 74 works by 29 artists of 10 different countries.

The winner was Davide Bonadonna, with his beautiful illustration of Diplodocus and Allosaurus!
This is another proof of Davide skills and, more generally, of the cleverness that all italian paleoartists use in this job.
In 2009 Davide won the third prize on the sixth edition of the same contest.
In 2010, he was prized with the Lanzendorf PaleoArt Prize in the scientific illustration category.
Davide was also the creator of the most important illustrations used in the "Dinosauri in Carne e Ossa" exhibition.

To view more illustrations of Davide, check out his website:


Artistic confidence is a valuable asset when it is warranted, but a terrible liability when not.

Unfortunately, the nature of confidence is that it blinds us to whether it is warranted or not.

Picasso's huge ego was an asset when it gave him the courage to break with a lot of traditions.  On the other hand, Julien Schnabel's ego did him no favors when it led him to claim, "I'm the closest thing to Picasso that you'll see in this fucking life." Confidence can be the Jekyll or Hyde of art.

Artist Markus Lüpertz certainly had the confidence to stand up to his critics. When he erected his latest public artwork -- a creepy, 60 foot sculpture of Hercules with one arm, a big nose, blue hair and a stunted body-- the New York Times reported:
in the past his work has been, to put it kindly, misunderstood. One piece was smeared with paint and covered in feathers. Another was beaten with a hammer. Another was removed altogether after protesters demanded it be taken down. “It doesn’t matter,” said Mr. Lüpertz....“The general opinion of my art is that it is rejected. I attribute this to a lack of intelligence among the people.”

 Some of Lupertz's confidence comes from avoiding nay-sayers:
I only work with students who admire me and think I am great.  If I am not the one that takes their breath away, I don’t feel like working with them, because this would be a waste of time. It’s not about their individualism, it’s about my individualism. It’s not about their genius, it’s about my genius.
Lupertz shows us that confidence can transform bad art into immense, unavoidable bad art.

At Stone Mountain, Georgia, sculptors Augustus Lukeman and Walter Hancock defaced an entire mountain with a sculpture the size of three football fields.

The sculpture, which depicts heroes of the Confederate Army, was sponsored by the Ku Klux Klan and the United Daughters of the Confederacy.  As a work of art, it exemplifies the struggle between a pathetic lack of talent and disgusting racism.  Most artists might look for a more inconspicuous location for such a struggle-- perhaps hidden in the back pages of a personal sketchbook.  But if you have unquestioning confidence, you try to assert your position bigger and bolder and more permanently than anyone else's. 

The jackhammer and dynamite are apparently favored tools of the overly confident.  Consider this awful sculpture of chief Crazy Horse, currently on its way to becoming the largest sculpture in the world:

The sponsors of this statue hired sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski in 1948 to begin reshaping a mountain into a figure larger than Mount Rushmore.  The head of Crazy Horse alone is 87 feet tall.  The scale model pictured here in front of the despoiled mountain is so bad, an artist with any  judgment would have returned to the drawing board.   But confidence never heard the Turkish proverb, "No matter how far you've gone down the wrong road, turn back."

Confidence has served many artists well, giving them the strength necessary to undertake difficult projects and make bold decisions.  Illustrator and art teacher Sterling Hundley reports,
I've had students in the past ask me the question: "Do you think that I am good enough?"
My answer: "If anyone could say anything in that moment that would keep you from pursuing your dreams, then you should find something else to do with your life."
This is surely true.  On the other hand, when writer Flannery O'Connor was asked whether college writing programs were discouraging young writers, she responded "Not enough."  This is surely true too.

Distinguishing between helpful and unhelpful confidence is one of the greatest challenges facing any artist.  When is it Jekyll and when is it Hyde?  If there is a formula, I lack the confidence to articulate it here.

Guest Artist: Bryan Foote


Pachyrhinosaurus mother & calf in mud



Canadian palaeoartist Bryan Foote shares some of his fantastic sketches with the palaeoblogsphere.  Check out his art here on deviantART!

Poetry: DRAGONSEED by Claire M. Jordan


Listen to the song of the world's wind

See my children leap up
See my children cast off
Into the sky

Seek my seed - my children were born
In a dazzle of colour
Now they spiral upwards
Feathered with fractured light -
The light of the sun
Streams past the out-stretched hand

Shedding their teeth
To sow an army

Death and the fire of heaven
Cast them down
Shipwrecked in stone, still fringed
With frozen light -
Shall the stones take flight?

Listen to the song of the world's wind
See my children leap up
See my children cast off
Into the sky

Icarus fell, but Daedalus
Sweeps on - the storm
Could not out-pace him
Listen to me tell
How the same claws that grasped the ground
Clutched at the sundered sky
How the great beasts of thunder
With their bones of stone leapt up
And dwindled
Into bones of air
To glitter and shine

Listen to the song of the world's wind
See my children leap up
See my children cast off
Into the sky

Cauldron of changes
Feather on the bone
Circle of eternity
Heart in the stone

See my children leap up
Into the sky

[N.B. verse beginning "Cauldron of changes" is a traditional pagan chant which normally ends "Hole in the stone".]

Going Pro: Working with Palaeontologists (Flukes Part 5)

Well if no else is going to do a Going Pro ARTicle this year, I guess I'm going to have to :P

For my first Going Pro contribution I'm going to tie into my Flukes series of 2009 and 2010. While attempting to create a Shark Toothed Dolphin (Squalodon) for Dr. Ewan Fordyce (the tale of my efforts and MISTAKES can be followed in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4) I picked up a few very good tactics and attitudes for getting yourself, as an artist, established with a working scientist. In the last couple of months I've gotten myself some more legitimate Palaeo-art gigs using these approaches with other palaeontologists here in Canada.

So I figured why not try to help everyone else out with my methods for all you aspiring and upcoming palaeo-artists to break into the palaeo-reconstruction field...

Working with (and for) Palaeontologists

Before I dive into this article, I'm going to clarify that the point of this article is for you to get gigs reconstructing critters for palaeontologists.

This is a very different task than what we usually get up to here on ART Evolved. Most often we are attempting to reconstruct something by ourselves for our own purposes. While you can certainly ask a scientists for their input in these effort, this is not the same as working on a legitimate reconstruction in my opinion.

Now before you get all enraged, I am not down playing independent palaeo-art, nor am I trying to insult people who create it. Hopefully everyone on this site knows how much "non-legit" palaeo-art I've created! When I use the word legitimate here I am solely referring to the fact the palaeo-art in question was commissioned by a scientist to accompany a formal publication. This to me means the artwork carries a bit more weight by having an outside authority's seal of approval and thus has had its own form of peer review.

Now with that quick preamble out of the way, how do you get yourself working for a palaeontologist in this way?

THE Attitude

I've found one's frame of mind toward palaeontology and their art that is the key to selling said art. To best illustrate this let me tell you a story...

Just a few months ago, I met for the first time a new palaeontologist (Dr. Potential I shall dub them). I was very interested in pitching myself as a possible artist for Dr. Potential should they need a reconstruction done in their area of expertise (a big interest of mine). While they were willing to meet with me, I was stressed when almost immediately into our introduction Dr. Potential became very withdrawn and almost confrontational. I thought I'd done something offensive by mistake, but I pressed on in my usual manner of selling myself and my art (humbly casual). The interview didn't improve. In fact I thought I was crashing and burning when we got to my portfolio, and I was unable to answer some rather pointed technical questions about my anatomy choices in my pieces. I thought that was the end of the meeting, and I braced for the "thank you but no thank" you". Taking me by surprise Dr. Potential told me they were interested in me working for them. What I thought, after all that hostility?!?

It turns out Dr. Potential had tried collaborating with two other amateur artists in the past, and neither those experiences had been positive for the good doctor. In both cases Dr. Potential found the artists approached the subject matters like they were the experts, and began questioning or ignoring Dr. P's input and requests due to their own "research" of the topic subject matter. In the end Dr. Potential aborted both collaborations, and had a somewhat lowered opinion of "palaeo-enthusiasts".

I won over Dr. Potential with my very laid back and open approach to both my palaeo-art and the science in general. More to the point Dr. P very much liked the way that while I was well informed on palaeo, I didn't have a need to "flaunt it" or pretend I knew as much (or more!) than Dr. P (as I do not!). So that is how I got the gig.

So my first very key piece of advice when approaching a scientist to create palaeo-art for them is to forget everything you think you know about palaeontology. Especially about the topic you will be creating.

I don't mean to harp on people, but this is very important as a palaeo-artist. It doesn't matter how many museums you've visited or papers you've read, the scientist is the expert in the case of a legit reconstruction. That is why they are the ones writing the paper. Approach them as such. Do this and I guarantee you'll have luck.

Besides you'd be surprised how much you can learn from talking to an expert (no matter how much or little reading you've done on their subject). Despite all the science that is out there in publication, I've always enjoyed direct conversations to learn about all that hasn't been published yet!

Your Price

While attitude is key, there is another sticking point I've encountered over my ten or so pitches. How much your art costs. How you answer can really effect your efforts to getting established.

I venture the suggestion, at least while you don't have any formal credentials or portfolio full of commissioned work, you think about doing your first few pieces for free...

Immediately I should caution, I am not aiming to make my entire living or even a significant portion of it doing palaeo-art. I would just like to see my hobby pay for itself, and maybe see myself advance to the contemporary big leagues of the artform. As of such my not making money on my first few legitimate palaeo-art pieces is not a big lose to me.

This has me as a diametric opposite camp from the real artists out there. As a good example of their point of view I will call on our AE comrade Glendon's stance on the pay issue (I've run this by Glendon for the record). He suggests not doing any work for free. If you do there is a risk it will set up an expectation in your clients of this being the norm, and might even establish you a reputation as a "freebie" artist. While I agree with this on its fundamentals, legitimate professional level palaeo-art is very cut throat. You might need an edge in your rookie gigs.

I've lost over half my initial pitches to already established professional palaeo-artists this year, particularly Dinosaur reconstructions, as they offer some pretty stiff competition. For starters they have established relationships within the field, have a tested true body of work, and have demonstrated they have the methods to capture what the scientists are after. Who am I to compete with that right now, one on one, unless I level the playing field? "Selling" myself as the cheaper (to free) alternative has really been my only way to slip into circulation. The compensation in this case is building up my portfolio with actual published credentials.

I personally have "lost" a couple potential gigs (initially I was signed on a the tentative artist due to being free) when the project got money for a press release. Rather than risk paying a no name unestablished talent such as myself, they go to the proven stars when money enters the equation.

The other way I justify not making money off this art is that at moment I am not making any money creating non-legitimate palaeo-art, how could not being paid to actually create legitimate stuff hurt anymore?

Working for free is just one strategy, and it has been working for me off and on this year. Take what you may from it. The payoff is I have a potential half dozen reconstructions in the works now (one possibly paying!). Of course I'm at the whim of marketing and communication departments for the majority of them, especially should money for a formal press kit come up with a project. So mine is not the most stable strategy. Mind you I'd venture there is no such thing in the palaeo-art game...

The Benefits

So what are the payoffs of doing your art for free while defaulting on all your prehistoric know how? Quite a few actually. Not only for your art but also your knowledge in the field of palaeontology.

Here are just some of the benefits I encountered working with Dr. Fordyce in New Zealand.

Access to totally brand new specimens. This one was huge. When working with scientists you often get a sneak preview of things no one else in the palaeo community has ever seen. While you typically aren't allowed to talk about them (at least if you want to keep your name good in the field) there is something extremely satisfying about getting to be one of the first to see a new prehistoric critter. Plus if you're really lucky you could find yourself to be the first person to ever reconstruct it!

Access to most recent knowledge and research. For me often the hardest part of reconstructions is ensuring all the details are in line with the science. While one can read the technical literature, often very important things aren't covered on how these animals are put together or figuring out how to translate them into a concrete image. Additionally the amount of research can be a little much for a part time palaeo-artist such as myself.

When working with a palaeontologist often a lot of this guesswork (or outright conjecture) can be taken out of the picture. Every palaeontologist I've talked to is sitting on some knowledge of these details, either not published yet or that they know of from obscure references you don't know about (they are paid to know this stuff). Working with them, you'll find suddenly your work can become the cutting edge reconstruction of the critter in question by including things previous reconstructions lacked!

You'll become a part of the research process. One of the other cool byproducts of working with a palaeontologist on a reconstruction is that your seeking as much information about a fossil as a living animal can spur new insights or areas of inquiry about them.

While working with Dr. Fordyce, a quick question I had about the placement about fins on the Shark Toothed Dolphin suddenly caused him to consider every other reconstruction of these animals previously made. He realized based on his own recent work on dissecting modern Dolphins that all previous reconstructions (and even most museum mounts of Dolphin skeletons both fossil AND modern) were wrong in the angle they were placing the ribs. Meaning not only was my reconstruction going to be the first to represent this cutting edge idea, but that I'd accidentally spurred it into entering the equation.

Direct feedback and input. The most rewarding and unique result of collaborating with a scientist is getting a qualified opinion on your reconstruction. While there is nothing wrong with feedback from palaeo people like those here on ART Evolved (seriously love you guys for it all!), this doesn't quite compare to getting it from one of the top minds on the subject. Especially when you finally nail the critter, and get the experts seal of approval!!!

So I hope this random ramble is of some use to you. While I'm by no means a professional or big name in the field of palaeo-art, using these steps I've definitely made headway to at least breaking into the scene later this year. I hope that one day you'll have the same luck as me!

Dinosaurs on DrawBridge

"On you go Wullie, You can do it!" by Simon Fraser

This is a heads up from Simon Fraser, comic book artist and a contributor to the cooperative art blog DrawBridge, who wants to share some wonderful dinosaur art.

Check out the dinosaurs on DrawBridge, I dare you not to smile!

Also, remember to VOTE in our run-off Gallery poll at right!  Only 10 more days to make a difference...

September Run Off Vote

We've had an unprecedented outcome on our latest Gallery Poll. A tie!

As the themes in question don't really complement each other all that well (apart from all being armoured) we're having a run off vote to decide the final theme of the gallery.

So please vote on the new run off poll located on our right sidebar. Though this time you can only vote for one choice...


Once upon a time, the world's largest media companies bragged in full page ads about their upcoming illustrations:

From the back cover of Life Magazine.  When was the last time you saw an ad like this?

Magazines urged readers to spend more time studying illustrations:

This was all driven by economics, of course.  The general public followed the work of top illustrators and made purchasing decisions based on their art:

Before the invention of movies and computer videos, illustrators were the George Lucas and Steven Spielberg of their day. They created magic images that captured the public imagination and shaped public taste.  They invented cultural icons:

This was the great power of stationary images in an era before people learned that pictures could also be made to move and talk.

Like the Cecile B. DeMille of his day, Gustave Dore (1832-1883) shaped the world's image of epic stories such as the Bible, Paradise Lost and Dante's Divine Comedy.  His books (and his visions) were everywhere.

Celebrity illustrators were were richly paid for their contribution to the mass entertainment industry. Charles Dana Gibson, who created the popular Gibson Girl, went from being a cartoonist for Life Magazine to taking over the entire magazine.  His work enabled him to retire to his own private 700 acre island. Illustrator Henry Raleigh earned enough from drawing illustrations for three or four months to spend the balance of the year traveling the world lavishly with family and friends. He spent freely, giving away thousands of dollars. He maintained a yacht, owned a mansion and kept a large studio in downtown Manhattan.

Those days are gone.  Like a huge peristaltic wave, the mass entertainment market has moved beyond illustration to other media.

There is nothing surprising about this.  The golden age of illustration began in the 19th century by crushing  the old fashioned wood engraving industry, which could no longer retain an audience when compared to color photo-engraving. Later, silent movies could not hold out for long against sound movies.  Black and white movies were similarly vanquished by color movies.  It remains to be seen what will happen with 3D, or 48 frame per second movies, or the next development after that. 

This evolution seems to be powered primarily by the economics of mass marketing.  There will always be a significant role for still pictures, but a medium that talks (and therefore doesn't require the consumer to read text), that moves (and therefore doesn't require the consumer to imagine the implications of a moment isolated by a static drawing), a medium that completely fills our sight, sound, olfactory and other senses, allowing us to passively absorb, seems to have a natural advantage over a medium that doesn't fill in all the blanks for us. 

I see no prospect of this trend reversing itself, barring a global electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from thermonuclear war that renders all electronic viewing devices useless.  If nuclear winter ever comes, illustrators can look forward to returning to their historic birthright as the powerful shamans who make magic images on the cave walls.

But for now, I think it is important to emphasize that, while illustration is no longer the centerpiece of the entertainment world, and the great peristaltic wave took celebrityhood and money with it, it did leave the "art" portion behind.  And that, my friends, is the most important part.

Convergent Blog

While searching the net we've discovered an example of virtual convergent evolution. There seems to be another palaeo-art blog run by multiple artists out there (they seem to have started a year after we did). Check out Dino-art, and while you're at it leave a comment suggesting our two blogs try to coordinate on some stuff in the future :P


Last week the Society of Illustrators opened a wonderful exhibition of pulp magazine covers from the 1930s and 40s.  The show includes nearly 90 paintings of scantily clad damsels in distress, hooded fiends with elaborate torture devices, and futuristic space heroes.  This is probably the most emotionally uncomplicated art you will ever find: big, juicy paintings with the open heart (and emotional maturity) of a 14 year old boy.

Some of the paintings, such as this gem by the great Baron Leydenfrost, are executed with astonishing skill:

But most of these pictures are painted with a technique as vulgar as their content. There was no room for subtle colors and elaborate compositions on a magazine rack crowded with competing pulp magazines.

The girls on these covers always seemed to be in peril, and ripe for rescue by the proper hero.  

Young male readers were tantalized by the prospect of what lay beyond those slightly parted dressing gowns or those strategically torn shirts.  They pored over these illustrations for clues to what awaited them someday.  It's a mark of their innocence that their best plan for winning such favors was by rescuing a girl from space monsters.

If you're looking for a holiday from moral complexity, pulp art may be just the oasis for you. In fact, the owner of this marvelous collection, Robert Lesser, calls it “escape” art.  But its simple mindedness is the source of both its joyful strength and its gnawing weakness.

Which brings me to my question of the week: Is it okay to like pulp art?

Let's put aside that this stuff is politicallly incorrect.  My question is focused solely on artistic merit. Is this stuff anything more than “chewing gum for the eyes”?  What are we to make of art that is not particularly well painted and does not challenge us mentally or emotionally, that raises no questions and doesn't expand our vision, but is undeniably likable for nostalgic reasons?

Beryl Markham cautioned us about the temptation to look over our shoulder at simpler, bygone days:
Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour.... Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance. The cloud clears as you enter it. I have learned this, but like everyone I learned it late.
This is a worthy sentiment, but I nevertheless think pulp art is a valid art form.  The moral obviousness of these pictures gives them an ethical virility that you won't find in more sophisticated art. They are akin to religious paintings from the age of faith, which left no ambiguity about who was the bad guy, who was the hero, and which blonde needed to be rescued.

The fact that such ethical clarity is an illusion doesn’t mean it isn't art.

Know When To Fold 'Em

Above: Maximum wrist folding for the theropods studied by Sullivan et al. 2010. Not to scale.

To continue talking about aspects of maniraptoran anatomy that can be a bit vaguely defined in the minds of paleoartists, I'm going to write a bit on the issue of wrist folding. As most of you will know, a major characteristic of maniraptorans is the semi-lunate carpal, the half-moon shaped bone in the wrist that allows the blade of the hand (metacarpal 3) to fold backward toward the forearm (ulna). While this is common knowledge among paleo buffs and artists, what seems to be less understood is exactly how tightly the hand (and in aviremigians, the wing) could actually fold up. I myself have never been too clear on the issue, and there don't seem to be many papers addressing this. But in the last few years, a few papers have come along that can help shed light on the subject. The first was Senter 2006, which studied the full range of motion in the forelimbs of two dromaeosaurs, Deinonychus and Bambiraptor. The second was Sullivan et al. 2010, which examined the range of motion in the wrist of several species representing each major group of non-avialan maniraptorans.

Both papers, however, present geometric data that can come across as a bit inaccessible for your average artist, so I'm going to try to break down their conclusions for those of us who are more visual thinkers. The Sullivan paper, in particular, discusses the degree to which the wrist could fold, but doesn't necessarily provide diagrams or even final angle between the metacarpals and ulna for each species that could be used as a simple reference. I've done my best to translate their findings into the image at the top of this post, using modified skeletal diagrams by Scott Hartman and Jaime Headden.

Above: Anatomy of a maximally folded wing of the Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo, modified from Sullivan et al. 2010

The degree of wrist folding is controlled by two wrist bones. The cuneiform, on the inside where the wrist meets the bottom of the distal ulna, provides an inner limit. The cuneiform blocks the hand from actually touching the ulna. The radialae, on the outside of the fold, forms the surface which the wrist cannot fold beyond. This is basically a little process anchored to the tip of the radius where the top part of the hand articulates. The hand can obviously not fold beyond the angle of the radialae, or the animal would dislocate its wrist. Therefore, the angle the articular surface of the radialae forms with the ulna is used as the key factor in determining maximum wrist folding by Sullivan et al. Again, see my interpretation at the top for how their results likely translate into life position.

The results show that in almost all maniraptorans, the wrist could not be folded to the same degree as modern birds (for comparison, see the photo of the turkey wing above, which is at its own maximum folding point). Note that in actual, functional angle of folding in the turkey is 57 degrees between MCII (where the feathers attach) and the ulna. To see how this translates into a live animal, here's a photo of wild turkeys nicely showing the way the feathers fold (photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson, from Wikipedia, licensed):

The wrist is located about where the coverts form the point of a triangle, following the line formed by the border of the the brown secondary (ulna) feathers and white banded primary (metacarpus) feathers. Note that with the wrist folded at a 57 degree interior angle, the feathers (especially the secondaries, which help cover the primaries when folded) are basically stacked one on top of the other with little to no fanning out at the tips. This is because the feathers also have some ability to move at their bases, and can themselves fold relative to their anchor bones through muscle and ligament action.

Looking at the aviremigians in the diagram up top, it is apparent that their wrists could not fold tightly enough to fold the wing feathers to the same degree as a modern turkey. Small deinonychosaurs like Sinovenator and Bambiraptor could achieve close to a 100 degree angle (see image of Bambiraptor wing folding above, from Senter 2006), but larger ones like Deinonychus seem to have lost some of that folding ability, presumably for increased use of the forelimbs in predation. Indeed, if Deinonychus retained long remiges, they would hardly have been able to fold at all, and would have been permanently fanned out (not that this would have gotten in the way of grabbing prey, as Senter pointed out). This lack of ability to tightly fold the wrists may have posed a significant problem for those species with very long remiges, like Microraptor gui. Dave Hone, who was a co-author of the Sullivan paper, discussed alternative ways they could have kept their remiges free of the ground at his blog last year.

In pygostylians, the degree of wrist folding began to approach that found in modern birds. Eoconfuciusornis, for example, could fold its wing to about the same degree as a turkey. Where it gets weird is in the oviraptorosaurs. As I mentioned in my post on the Ashdown maniraptoran, oviraptorosaurs (at least the small basal ones like Caudipteryx) seem to have been capable of folding their wings far beyond what is possible for even many modern birds. It's unclear why this is so, especially as the remiges of Caudipteryx, while clearly for display, are not exactly very long compared to the body. Certainly its wings were much smaller than those of paravians, which would have presumably had more need to fold them up. I've seen this mentioned as possible evidence in support of the hypothesis that oviraptorosaurs are in fact avialans, and that the extreme folding of the wrist was inherited from flying ancestors, though I can't think of where. Sullivan et al. do note that more than folding up the remiges to keep them safe from wear and tear, wing folding is an important part of the avian flight stroke, and it makes sense that it would have become more developed in flying forms.

Anyway, we've only got a handful of specimens that have been specifically studied in regards to the degree of wrist folding, and there may well be exceptions in each maniraptoran group, where certain lineages independently evolved a greater or lesser degree of wrist folding from their ancestors as seems to have happened in therizinosaurs, where the derived Alxasaurus can fold its wrist more than the basal Falcarius, and deinonychosaurs, where the relatively derived Deinonychus can fold its wrist less than the more basal Bambiraptor. So this guide shouldn't be considered as a set of hard and fast rules, but rather a starting point for artists who want to make their restorations as plausible as possible.

Finally, a few days ago I posted a teaser for this post challenging people to determine what aspect of the above Deinonychus illustration was incorrect. By now it should be clear that the wrist is folded too far back. Appropriately enough, the first one to nail it was the artist, Nobu Tamura, himself! Commenter A.G. came close, speculating that it was due to the orientation of the glenoid, but that has more to do with the range of motion of the upper arm and how far it could extend into a bird-like flapping position, rather than the way the wing folds up. Good job guys!

--Matt Martyniuk

* Senter, P. (2006). "Comparison of Forelimb Function Between Deinonychus And Bambiraptor (Theropoda: Dromaeosauridae)". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 26(4): 897–906.

* Sullivan, C., Hone, D.W.E., Xu, X. and Zhang, F. (2010). "The asymmetry of the carpal joint and the evolution of wing folding in maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs." Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 277(1690): 2027–2033.

Sketchbooks - why?

Sketchbooks are an essential part of any artist's or designers and I've just posted a few thoughts on their use over at Paleo Illustrata arguing why in our age of technological wonders the humble pencil and sketchbook is still the best method of getting your ideas down quickly and with minimum fuss. Not only that, but other reasons too - head on over and take a look.

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