WOOHOO! After nearly a month of working on and off, it's finally done. Here is the Dashanpu scene (also known as "The Impossible miniature") in all its phenomenal, stunning presence. No detail overlooked.... like a J. R. R. Tolkien novel, or a Gogol short story, or even perhaps a Rameau harpsichord suite!

The impossible Jurassic miniature - Omeisaurus tianfuensis and Shunosaurus lii,
denizens of a lively Dashanpu Quarry.

Okay so perhaps I exaggerate just a tiny slight little bit. But rarely (or perhaps never) have I seen someone cram this much detail and just flat-out stuff going on into a single 8x11 sheet! Challenging? That's an understatement. I didn't want to put this much detail at first, but then I thought, back in March my Styracosaurus herd scene set the bar pretty high, so I had to at least do something comparable for my live blogging... especially now that I have much better paper to work with. So here's the full Dashanpu quarry scene with those real-life dragons, "Omeisaurus" tianfuensis and Shunosaurus lii - and their live surroundings as they would have appeared in the Middle Jurassic, with monkey-puzzle trees, reflections in the water, and shiploads of other details that would take hours to discuss, though they're easy to spot here. Enjoy basking in the glory...

LOL, as if regular-sized detail weren't crazy enough...
and those Shunosaurus are just too cute ;)

And yes - there is indeed a crocodile.

Dashanpu quarry is mostly lake sediment, indicating that there was a large inland lake there in the Middle Jurassic (Bathonian-Callovian epochs) fed by several rivers, which washed the remains of dead dinosaurs into the lake along with tons of sediment over the millennia. The dinosaurs were certainly not water-dwellers - their corpses simply got thrown in there by rivers and perhaps floods, and those that didn't were not preserved. There are also crocodile and turtle remains, and these were obviously native to the lake.

Here, the dinosaurs are feasting near shallow, seasonally dry streams near the start of the wet season, on the edge of the lake. The first rains of the wet season flooded the area days before and choked the streams with silt and sandbars. It's not known exactly why "Omeisaurus" tianfuensis evolved such crazy long necks so rapidly, while Shunosaurus lii kept them short like the old cetiosaurid body plan (apparently as if there was never a brachiosaur-style middle ground for Chinese sauropod neck proportions!) However, the difference in feeding ranges which allowed the two to coexist without competing for the same food, is obvious.

* P.S. - I'm thinking of doing a big group reconstruction of all the known "Omeisaurus" species to show that they are probably separate genera that may have next to nothing in common with the type specimen. It's just an idea for now, though I do have other sauropod projects actually in the works.


Traumador said...

nice work man!

very impressive, and indeed detailed.

looks like you can rest easy for the palaeo-environment gallery ;)

you catch your piece headlining the latest SV-POW post?!? nicely done

Leo said...

Amazing work, Nima.
I've seen your "Art-evolved" galleries via "Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week" [http://svpow.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/sauropod-art-o-rama/: compliments!] and they're fascinating - especially (IMHO) the Brachiosaurs on parade. Are they destined to be included as blog-pages here or not? Well, I hope yes (of course), especially to see every detail of the astounding restorations.
Keep up the good work.


steveoc said...

Great Work Nima,

Congratulations on getting your Puertasaurus on Sv Pow!. I love the shading.

I'm one of those poeple who are fasinated by massive dinosaurs (Sorry) so I took your image in to photoshop to see how big you have restored it. I think you might have accidently scaled the scale bar and human too small. Using the Scale bar provided the dorsal comes out at about 2.1(ish) meters wide, when it's suposed to be about 1.68m wide. I suspect the image needs to be made about 20ish percent smaller in relation to the scale bar.

(*man I'm sad*)

Nima said...

Thanks, Traumador, Leo and Steve! I'm ecstatic I got on SV-POW! I get to represent ArtEvolved to a wider audience...and this certainly opens doors...

Puertasaurus is now one of my favorites, and to my knowledge, my reconstruction is the only really good one so far (Gabriel Lio did the only two others I know of, and both look more like comic art than an accurate restoration... just my two cents.) So in some small way I hope I've made history...

Leo, I will definitely include the Brachiosaurs parade and everything else I sent to the Gallery as blog pages here. It will take a bit, but the wait will be worth it I promise:)

Steve, don't be sad ;) The Puertasaurus image on ArtEvolved (and its clone on SV-POW) are both resized very small (which was not my fault.... Peter Bond posted the actual gallery and he seems to have resized them smaller than everyone else's pieces for reasons I do not know). But the unfortunate result of this is that the scale is fuzzy and hard to get by just enlarging it. I will post the full-sized version soon.

But I digress. You are right about the scale - to some extent. The vert is indeed around 1.68 or 1.70m wide. The thing is, both the verts figured here are drawn as I surmise they would be in life, not as crushed fossils. The dorsal vert was heavily eroded and basically was in several fragments when Novas and crew dug it up. The version published as drawings in their monograph is based on a cast of their reconstructed version. While I'm not casting doubt on the quality of their work (nothing major is missing, just some thin cracks they filled in) it's evident that the bone was somewhat larger and wider in real life.

It's crushed and the y-axis of the thing is tilted slightly to one side. Also there are chunks missing from the lower laminae (if that's what they are) under the wing-like zygapophyses - which themselves look asymmetric as if chunks were broken off the ends. This is more apparent in photos than in the overly smooth monograph drawings. I restored the bone as the "live" version, uncrushed, un-eroded, and thus slightly wider, as it would be with some cartilage sheaths at its extremities (which would ossify in older animals).

The bone appears slightly scaled up for this reason, but even if I used the raw fossil measurements, the size of the restored animal could fathomably remain unchanged. I didn't really lengthen the centrum, so length would remain the same. The rib cage is actually not all that deep compared to the vert... it's just super wide. And my version is certainly within the realm of possibility. It's unlikely that this was the biggest individual of Puertasaurus. And I'd say it was "scaled up" around 10% rather than 20%.... of course that just depends on what kind of proportions you think this creature had. I made mind very long and tall based on Futalognkosaurus, as I just don't buy the "Ken Carpenter saltasaurus clone" model for these giant forms, especially when "Futa" is a much closer relative and much closer in size as well.

That said, I'll admit it's never easy to scale these things when they're so big! Oddly, the Giganotosaurus in the same image was a much bigger pain despite its much shorter neck. I'm more of a sauropod fan than a theropod fan.... meat-eaters are just harder to scale properly, IMO...

steveoc said...

I have invisioned Puertasaurus as having a proportionally shorter torso compared when compared to argentinosaurus. Arg's dorsals are aparently somthing like ~50cm were the Puerta dorsal is about 40cm. I'd imagine what ever argentinosaurs torso length is Puerta is a little shorter.......but wider.

That said, I'm not 100% convinced that the ribcage of Puertasaurus is super(dooper)wide. Its anterior dorsal is wide but anterior ribs often just hang down, closer to vertical rather than being strongly curved out. If that makes sence.

Anyway, what ever size/shape this thing was it was huge....

Nima said...

Indeed, it was a monster...

And yes, Argentinosaurus had a crazy long torso. I made the torso of Puertasaurus proportianally a little shorter than Argentinosaurus, but if you scale this beast with Argentinosaurus, the Argentinosaurus torso may actually be the same length since Puertasaurus appears a good deal bigger. My version actually has 12 -13 dorsals instead of the usual 11... A number of derived titanosaurs show a trend towards more dorsals. This seems to have evolved in several different families. Rapetosaurus appears to have 14 (based on photos of the mount, not on Mark Hallett's skeletal, which has several errors).

As for anterior ribs... I did make them less "bowed out" than the central ribs... though that's hard to tell from an 'in the flesh' restoration other than in the front view. Though since Puertasaurus has the most freakishly wide anterior cervical of ANY dinosaur yet found, I'd say it also had the widers "arch" to its anterior ribs, and it's a safe bet that this guy's chest cavity was big enough to park a car in.

Of course my estimates could be totally off, but that's fine. I put a lot of effort into this reconstruction, and if more evidence turns up that refutes some of it, I'll gladly do a new one. So far it's the best version in existence (and and perhaps the only really good one - no I'm not being conceited... compare this to Gabriel Lio's version and draw your own conclusions).

The funny thing is, Futalognkosaurus has a similarly super-wide body, but a very tall neck, whereas Puertasaurus (which may have evolved from it) has a much squatter neck, which is crazy-wide like everything else about it... my theory is that Puertasaurus could bend its neck backwards well past vertical to reach higher branches, even behind its head. The cervical's centrum is flattened and indicates an absolutely insane range of dorso-ventral flexibility, though as a tradeoff, lateral movement appears to have been severely restricted.

*GASP* I should have included a front-view of the cervical!

Anyway, enjoy the sauropods, there will be more to come. I congratulate everyone who contributed to the gallery, which is easily the biggest one (and thanks to Matt Wedel of SV-POW, the most famous) in all of ArtEvolved history!

Michael O. Erickson said...

This. Is. Freaking. Awesome. Dude.

How on God's green earth did you manage to get that kinda detail on a peice that's so puny????

Nima said...

Thanks Mike! I don't particularly like doing panoramic miniatures, but when you've got good tools, it's not all that frustrating.

LOL it still wasn't easy... All I can say is, patience and an 0.5 mechanical pencil. I did all the tiny details in "Styracosaurus herd" with an 0.7, on much cheaper paper, so this was no harder with an 0.5 and good paper... just time-consuming. One thing's for sure - the new paper makes drawing reflective water effects much easier and faster.

Nikola Popovic said...

Nima, once again you did a fantastic job! What makes it great is the share amount of details on a 8X11 sheet of paper. Sauropods are fantastic, I wish though more people could see them as real creatures and not just some dull, dumb movie monsters.

Nima said...

Thanks indeed, Nikola! And I totally share your view on sauropods. They were very successful creatures with well-developed senses and complex social behavior - not the sluggish pitiful blobs that pop culture often shows them to be.

Sadly, the best portrayal they got in the movies is in Jurassic Park, where an overstuffed Brachiosaurus does little more than rear, stomp, walk out of a lake, and sneeze on kids - and in Lost World, where Mamenchisaurus gets all of FIVE SECONDS of airtime - and then, only because the evil InGen thugs that the camera is REALLY focusing on, are driving straight under its butt.

Disney sunk even lower in "Dinosaur" where they cast their Brachiosaurus character as a clumsy, weak, feeble, and somewhat snobbish old lady - the "last of her kind" - which implies the same old myth that sauropods were badly adapted for survival compared to everyone else, and always on the edge of extinction (even though they actually survived for over 100 million years to the very end of the mesozoic, with the brachiosaurs even living through the horrific Jurassic-Cretacaous mass extinction).

So Hollywood (as with so many other issues) has a LONG way to go when it comes to dinosaurs.

But here in the Paleo Kingdom, dinosaurs will ALWAYS be portrayed as real creatures, with real behavior and physiology like living animals, based on the best of today's research and evidence. No myths. No hype. No outdated stereotypes. No tail-dragging, no arm-splaying, no poison-spitting - just real art with REAL creatures :)

BTW, if you want to see more detail-crammed 8x11 sheets, look no further http://paleo-king.deviantart.com/

Marica said...

WOW! I missed your previous updates so I'm seeing the final product possibly without having checked out two or three updates.

This is awesome stuff! Unbelievable Nima :) So much work, details and precision on such a "small" sized paper!

You must be very very patient! :)

Great job!

Zach said...

Holy crap, sir. Well frekaing done.

*golf clap*

Michael O. Erickson said...

"No tail-dragging"

Actually, there are several diplodocid trackways tht show tail drag marks. The marks are long, squiggly, and very closely resemble the tail drag marks seen in alligator and crocodile trackways.

BTW, which kind of croc is in the drawing? Any particular genus or species in mind?

Nima said...

The croc is just your generic Jurassic croc, something like Goniopholis but rather its Chinese equivalent (unless Goniopholis was found in China too, though as far as I am aware, it's mainly a North American croc). It looks roughly like a nile croc but a bit more primitive (which for crocs usually means it had somewhat longer legs...)

As for tail drags... I've heard that rumor before (mostly from Jack Horner, and not too many other people) but I have never seen hard evidence to back it up, many "tail drag" marks are nothing more than natural cracks in the rock that formed after the footprints were fossilized. Other times there are tail marks of things like rearing sauropods, sauropods walking bipedally for short distances (which would explain the squigglyness) or theropods and primitive ornithopods tilting up to survey the landscape. But there's never been any tail mark the stretched for more than 30m, so nothing conclusive has ever been proven to suggest that any sort of dinosaurs dragged their tails in normal walking posture.

I've not seen these "diplodocid prints" with tail impressions. Indeed, it's almost impossible to identify prints as diplodocid, since diplodocid thumb claws as well as those of basal maconarians and cetiosaurs are elevated off the ground, and neither bear weight nor make an impression in the mud. A surprising number of artists oddly do not take this into account. And I've never seen a sauropod trackway with any conclusive evidence of continuous, habitual tail-dragging. If there was constant tail-dragging in sauropods, we should see tail-drag marks hundreds of meters long all over Paluxy and many other sauropod trackways. But such tail-marks are absent at these locales. The fact is there are planty of trackways that show no hint of tail dragging, and dinosaurs tails all articulate in the air, not on the ground. Diplodocid tail tips drooped at the end, but not low enough to leave dragging marks IMO. You certainly spark some interesting debates though ;)

BTW thanks everyone for the compliments :) There are several more sauropods coming up soon!

Michael O. Erickson said...

Well, I certainly don't think that ANY dinosaur dragged their tails constantly, or that tail-dragging was the natural posture. Most dinosaur tails do articulate in the air, you're right, and some (like brachiosaurs and ceratopsians) had such short tails that I highly doubt they ever touched the ground, except perhaps while rearing.

Tail dragging was certainly not typical. As you pointed out, there are no tail drags at Paluxy and similar locales, or at least not significant ones.

However, there are some confirmed cases of sauropod tail drags. They are few and far between, but they do exist.(These are identified as "diplodocid" mostly because they're the sauropods on can most readily imagine dragging their tails once in a while.) I remember distinctly seeing a black-and white photograph (in an old book published in the 60s, I beleive) of a peice of sauropod trackway that had been cut out of the ground. There was a single deep, squiggly, and very long mark that cut through the center of the slab, between the footprints. I compared the photo to a photo of a crocodile trackway, and there was no question that the mark was a tail drag. I beleive the tracks were found somewhere in Utah or Wyoming, and were of Late Jurassic age. If only I could remember what that book was called, I would love to see that photo again!

Also of interest is that there are large sections of trackway made by hadrosaurs and nodosaurs in many of the old coal mines around Price, Utah, that reportedly show lengthly tail drags that go on for as long as the footprints do, nearly 20 meter stretches if I remember correctly. The problem is that those sections of coal mine have been closed off for safety reasons as they are supposedly too unstable. Drat!

Anyway, keep in mind that the last thing I'm saying is that dinos habitually dragged their tails - trackways showing tail drags that are anything similar to significant are a VERY tiny minority of all the trackways known. I'm really just sharing some info I find interesting, and making the point that if an artist in this day and age draws a draggy-tail sauropod, they - in theory - might have an exuse. Though I personally don't beleive they dragged their caudal appendages often enough to really be shown that way in a drawing or painting, or at least not without a second animal in the same picture carrying it's tail in air to balance things out.

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