Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Beginning...

When I started this whole "blog" thing, I never intended a constant "theme", but it seems to've morphed into one that's mostly based around comics. That's not a bad thing, because comics are great and all that - but just to mix things up a bit, here's the first book about dinosaurs I ever read:

Dinosaurs, from Ladybird Books in 1988.

See? Beautifully drawn by BH Robinson, and as I found out earlier this year, this is a "pocket-sized" version of a much bigger, wordier book. Found it in a 2nd-hand place back in March (or thereabouts), but THIS is the book that matters.

Like all good books, it opens with a page depicting Sizes compared with man:

And then we have our opening setting, as in how the Earth once was. This was also confirmed to me at a young age on a first viewing of Fantasia - it all adds up!

Now things get colourful with the first lifeforms:

The phonetical pronunciations throughout the book were obviously a big help as a youngster, although I still had problems reading the name of that deliciously tentacle-topped ice cream cone of a belemnite there. On a side note, if you ever find yourself in Scarborough, nip along to the Sea-Life Centre they have there to see some ammonites for yourself (well, they're nautilus really, but they almost look the same).

The terrifying dinichthys there, and the somewhat futuristic-looking pteraspis contrasted with the serene landscape of the first ferns and mosses that were growing on the surface.

And here's where those early explorers come into the picture. Makes you wonder what made fish like eusthenopteron suddenly decide to crawl out of the oceans - blind experimentation? Just a few million years later they grew legs, becoming amphibians like the cheeky-looking ichthyostega there. Thinking on a Sliding Doors sort of level... Say your eusthenopteron there decided he didn't like the look of the place and went back for a swim? Evolution's the best thing ever.

Here's where things get REALLY interesting - big fat amphibians sitting around in swamps. I'm sitting here comparing this picture with my axolotl and trying to picture it as a four-and-a-half metre long eogyrinus... How far we've come and so on.

Evolution's all about adaptation, and naturally there'd be a lot of trial-and-error involved - hence we have your edaphosaurus here with its hilariously tiny head stuck onto its massive body. But give it a few million years and you'll get something like...

Dimetrodon! A big meat-eating nutter. Take away the fins and you may as well have a Komodo dragon there.

From fish, to amphibians, to reptiles, to reptiles that go back into the water to eat their relatives. You can sit there eating your Rustlers chicken burgers and messing about with your iGizmo things, but it took a lot of work to get where we are.

Work that involved amazingly massive (or actually very small) gliding reptiles like these. Which MIGHT still exist in some parts of the world. Oh, and personally my favourite of this lot alternated between the cuddly-looking rhamphorynchus and the fat teeth-faced dimorphodon.

How happy's the moustached palaeontologist look now that he's found a footprint? 

26 pages in and we finally get some dinosaurs (from the book titled Dinosaurs). Worth the build-up though... Sauropods such as these are surely the first image that springs to mind for most people when "dinosaurs" are mentioned, right? Sorry for the apatosaurus' neck getting lost in the spine there, you know what these mini hardbacks are like.

This is where BH Robinson's illustrations really come to life - this looks like a scene from a Ray Harryhausen film!

See that ankylosaurus there? That's my favourite. Just so you know.

Whilst your styracosaurus here looks amazing, we also have the most dainty-looking tyrannosaurus I've ever seen. Get your head lower to the ground, sir, a straight back is not very becoming for one such as yourself!

In recent times, scientists have been denying the existence of triceratops as a species, instead claiming it to be a younger version of torosaurus. Thankfully, common sense has prevailed and this has since been rubbished. It's like saying there's only one kind of elephant.

Yep, giant sloths used to be REALLY giant sloths. There's a great statue of one of these in the park at Crystal Palace (in that London place). It's the best place in the world.

Mammals of every extremity here, from a ridiculously enormous cow to a hilariously tiny horse.

Aaaand... Here's where the people appear, to wipe out all these mad animals. Sorry, my comments haven't been up to much here (are they ever??), but it's good to get these fantastic illustrations "out there". I think.


  1. Interesting concept and nice pictures, but you do know that God created the world in just six days? It's in The Bible, so you can't possibly disagree.

    How is your axalotl, anyway?

    1. Ally Sloper's a happy little fat sod of an axolotl, and is seemingly very happy with the new log I've gave him to play with.

      And I know all about this God fella - the contents of this book took place on the Tuesday. Maybe a bit of overlap with Wednesday.

    2. Personally I think the idea that everything came from a rock, that came from an explosion of nothing, is more intellectually satisfying. Especially when I think about how those tax dollars are hard at work supporting that bit of unobservable-yet-observable Science in the classrooms.

      Because unlike life, the next generation of edgy boy fedoras won't spring up by themselves.