After a lifetime of walking with dinosaurs, I found my attention riveted by the paintings and sculptures from the collection of John J. Lanzendorf reproduced in Dinosaur Imagery: The Science of Lost Worlds and Jurassic Art (foreword by Philip J. Currie and photography by Michael Tropea; Academic Press, $49.95). These images demonstrate that restorations of dinosaurs are becoming more lifelike and that the animals were indeed otherworldly.
The works of art are arranged by geologic age depicted and portray dinosaurs as intermediate between reptiles, on the one hand, and birds and mammals on the other. Many are accompanied by commentary from a paleontologist, highlighting the tension between the analytic viewpoint of a scientist and the synthetic perspective of an artist. The art tempts one to generalize, stimulates reflection and focuses the reader on what, really, was a dinosaur. Do we have it? Is there anything missing—the distortion of a foot supporting a massive or accelerating body? the quasi-familiar details of ancient insects and plants? the smells, sounds and moods of the "former world" in which natural selection shaped the dinosaur?
What do the pieces tell us of ourselves? Tyrannosaurus rex is the most popular dinosaur. Two-thirds of the dinosaurs illustrated are raptors or large carnivores, and more than half of the herbivores are objects of impending or actual carnivory. Bird dinosaurs and dinosaurian herds are not as effective in capturing imaginations. Dinosaurian environments entirely vanish in sculpture. We have not yet exhausted the implications of the dinosaurian world.—Dale A. Russell, North Carolina State University and the North Carolina
Connect With Us:
Gene therapy and genomic engineering are rapidly burgeoning areas of research. Dr. Charles Gersbach of Duke University sat down with associate editor Katie L. Burke to discuss the history of gene therapy and what we can do now that we couldn’t do even a few years ago.
to view all of our Pizza Lunch Podcasts!
A free daily summary of the latest news in scientific research. Each story is summarized concisely and linked directly to the original source for further reading.
An early peek at each new issue, with descriptions of feature articles, columns,
and more. Every other issue contains links to everything in the latest issue's table of contents.
News of book reviews published in
and around the web, as well as other noteworthy happenings in the world of science books.
To sign up for automatic emails of the
Update and Scientists' Nightstand issues, create an
online profile, then sign up in the
My AmSci area.