Thursday, 22 January 2015

WIN STUFF At Pteroformer - BAM Greetings Cards

It's January and you lot in the Northern Hemisphere are all feeling low and depleted. So I've been to the bank, rearranged funds and borrowed some cash to bring you this blog's first ever competition. Now, the car I could afford on this blog's budget wasn't really worth towing home to photograph, so I've decided on something a little less corroded and a lot less expensive.

Up for grabs, courtesy of Robert Follen at Bob Art Models, is this set of three greetings cards, each bearing a different famous dinosaur hunter. Robert has spent the last eighteen months building a small company in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, and he wiles away the hours coming up with new and hideous ways to depict otherwise beautiful specimens of celebrity, including such megaliths as Mary Berry (from some cookery show), the befezzled Tommy Cooper and Hammer hero Peter Cushing.

Now, I've known Robert for a good few years; we were in a band and attended the same art college. He eventually went the route of model-making and visual effects and I took up illustration. So I exploited our friendship and pushed him to give the palaeontology community what it so desperately needs: hideously-rendered caricatures of three of palaeontology's best-loved heroes, Roy Chapman Andrews, Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope. Given how the three characters he chose all look a bit severe to begin with, I think they'd probably not be utterly, utterly offended by his efforts.
Old rivals Cope (left) and Marsh (right) with Roy Chapman Andrews keeping them in check. (©2015 Bob Art Models)

So, all you have to do to win this set of cards is answer these three questions:

1. Which famous Hollywood adventurer is best associated with Roy Chapman Andrews?
2. Which late Jurassic theropod was named to honour Othniel Marsh?
3. Three types of (living) animal were present at Cope's funeral. What were they?

Email your answers to microraptor_at_hotmail_dot_com, and don't forget your name and address.  I'll select a winner at random. Best of luck! Closing date is Thursday February 5th.

Alternatively, buy directly from Bob Art Models. Contact BAM here.

Small print: this competition is not open to employees of Bob Art Models. Sorry, Robert.

Coming up soon: an update and brief overview (so far) of my Nyctosaurus book.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Posterboy For Open Access: Aquilops

After tweaking the papercraft Aquilops americanus skull, made available at SV-POW!, I figured I'd throw together a desktop 'ornament'. A. americanus is fast becoming the unwitting poster boy for open access palaeontology, so it's an apt choice of dinosaur. In keeping with the intentions of the paper's authors, it's freely available. Download the image from here or, if you want the PDF of the Ai file so that you can edit it, email me at

Quadrupedal pose perhaps overstated. Don't like it? Change it!
This model is designed to work without glue BUT! glue will make it look better, giving closer, neater joins. It's up to you. Make it better!

Papercraft Aquilops americanus (by Gareth Monger)

It works best printed at the intended size of A3 (420x297mm) but A4 (297x210mm) will work at a push. Print onto thicker stock if possible, say, 250gsm. If you carefully trim the barbed tabs, they should 'click' into the receiver tabs without the need for glue. Score folds for a neater finish. A good craft-knife (or, better still, a scalpel) and a steel rule/straightedge give best results.

Edit it, share it, distribute it. Keep it fun and keep it free.

See SV-POW! for more Aquilops stuff.

Monday, 5 January 2015

New Year Blues Fix: Skulls, Papercraft and Aquilops

Woohoo! Those wonderful chaps at Sauropod Vertebra Picture Of The Week have made available a papercraft skull pattern for Aquilops. Sure, it's (intentionally) simple and it's only really meant to be taped together, but I wondered how far I could push it without extensively reworking it. Having printed it on 250gsm paper stock, I cut out all the fenestrae and orbits and then trimmed the main outline, having estimated where to leave tabs for adhesive. There was a couple of repeated elements, such as the upper margins of the orbits, owing to their being visible in the lateral and dorsal elevations from which the pattern was formed. I merged these where possible.

Partially trimmed skull pattern. (© Matt Wedel)
I used regular PVA as I didn't want any visible adhesives (i.e., tape) and it's pretty strong and easy to handle. All-in-all, it took about 90 minutes to complete. Two files are available at SV-POW! - a pair of smaller skulls and a larger one. I used the larger one, but printed it up twice on an A3 sheet. This was because I cut out some additional elements and attached them to the complete skull in order to give the cheeks and mandible that flared look.

Completed skull, showing additional cheek and mandible elements, cut from a second, identical pattern.
You'll see from the photos that I added various incisions in order to open up the skull so that it better resembled the real thing. Also, a small amount of black paper was inserted to get rid of that 'lit from within' look and keep the nares and orbits nice and shadowy. The result is a fairly pleasing paper skull, which compares fairly well with Garrett Stowe's digital sculpt, in the same article. What a great way to get hold of good, 3-D reference material! With luck, we might see more of these paper templates in the future.

Aquilops americanus papercraft skull, modified from original pattern.
Anyway, there you go. Just a quick one to see in the new year. Big thanks to Matt Wedel whom, along with co-blogger Mike Taylor, I was fortunate enough to meet at SVPCA, last September. Very nice guys. And go here to read the paper on Aquilops americanus.

Farke AA, Maxwell WD, Cifelli RL, Wedel MJ (2014) A Ceratopsian Dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of Western North America, and the Biogeography of Neoceratopsia. PLoS ONE 9(12): e112055. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112055