Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Kicking the opposition into touch

Mike Taylor and Matt Wedel of SV-POW!, along with co-author Richard Cifelli have just published a paper describing a new sauropod from Utah, Brontomerus mcintoshi. It's a superbly presented piece of work, with excellent photos and drawings of the fossil along with some excellent paleo-art by Francisco Gascó, showing an adult Brontomerus mcintoshi booting a marauding Utahraptor into the air in defence of it's accompanying juvenile.

As might be expected, the media have picked up on the possibility of a calcitrant dinosaur (I'm resisting the urge to make a football/Aston Villa joke here) and the BBC have an article on their web site entitled Dinosaur named 'thunder-thighs', a reference to the name as "bronto" means "thunder" and "merós" (both from the Greek) means thighs; excellent nomenclature gentlemen!

The BBC site also features an interview with Dr. Mike Taylor along with some animations of the artwork, which are 3D models composited on a photograph. There are several exponents of this style of paleo-art around at the moment, notably Julias Csotonyi, whom I mentioned in the post last week about the dead elephant documentary. Of course this particular method of depicting dinosaurs has been around for a while and Jane Burton created some memorable images in the book she illustrated (text by Dougal Dixon) The Age of the Dinosaurs: A Photographic Record . These images are studio set-ups with what I assume to be painted and sculpted cut-outs of the various subjects in them to give a quite natural look; I will be writing about this book in the future.

Modern technology means we can now create very natural looking scenes by combining computer models with real-world environments that have been filmed or photographed. This is a  technique that has become very familiar and mainstream ever since a certain brachiosaur strode onto our screens and changed everything, and it's great to see it used for a reconstruction in a paper.

3D dinosaurs? Hmmm, I must post about that at some point . . .

Taylor M., Wedel, M., Cifelli, R. (2011) A new sauropod dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation, Utah, USA. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 56 (1).

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