Flat dinosaurs

I have a lot of gripes about dinosaur art. I’ve mused about dinosaurs here, but I don’t think I’ve ever griped about it much on this blog. Let’s rectify that!

I subscribe to one of the dinosaur clubs on DA, and they update all the time. So I glance over a lot of dinosaur art. (Everybody draws raptors and t-rexes.) But one thing I notice a lot, especially in official art for publication, is the flatness of the animals. You can click to enlarge these.


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Not flat enough for you?

How about …


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Now, I understand that these may be stylistic choices on the part of the artist, and I couldn’t find the picture I wanted, of the really, really flat compsognathus. But I notice flat dinosaurs are a trend that pervades the paleoart sector.

But I didn’t understand it until I was reading this article, about what they found when they started scanning a mummified hadrosaur:

“The fossilized duckbilled hadrosaur is so well preserved that scientists have been able to calculate its muscle mass and learn that it was more muscular than thought, probably giving it the ability to outrun predators such as Tyrannosaurus rex.

The study is not yet complete, but scientists have concluded that hadrosaurs were bigger — 3½ tons and up to 40 feet long — and stronger than had been known, were quick and flexible and had skin with scales that may have been striped.”
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Up until this dino was found, they thought that hadrosaurs moved slowly and couldn’t outrun predators. Nobody could figure out how duckbills managed to be so prolific anyway.

Oh, wait! You mean dinosaurs weren’t flat? You mean they had muscles or something? Perish the thought! We’ve been drawing them flat for years! It couldn’t be that the skeleton was mashed flat under a billion tons of rock! It’s like reconstructing a flat cat from highway roadkill.

In real life, animals tend toward roundness. I always watched my chickens and chortled about how baby chicks are egg-shaped, and as adults, they’re still egg-shaped. Nobody draws extinct birds with the egg-shape. They draw them long and snakey, like the lizards they supposedly evolved from. Oh wait! You mean ‘feathered dinosaurs’ have always had feathers and nobody has found any transitional form? Like, maybe they’re just BIRDS?

That’s not even a creationist site. That’s a straight-up evolution-based scientist saying those things. It’s very interesting.

So yes. People need to beef out their dinosaurs in their art. Let ‘em have muscles, like elephants and rhinos have today.

2 thoughts on “Flat dinosaurs

  1. DoraMouse

    Hrm. Maybe those other artists just prefer the ‘very still life’ quality of their flat dinos? Maybe flat dinos are less threatening and easier to manage? *has a needless flashback to a stackable livestock cartoon* Meh. The potential for comedy aside, I agree with ya. If real dinos ate anywhere near the amount that scientists believe they ate, let them be round.

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