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Re: Dinosaur illustrations

>        Artists have full freedom to do what ever the heck they want and 
>     aren't required by some governing body to include only the known 
>     facts.  As it should be. 

>     -Betty Cunningham
>     Illustator, animator, and likes to collect dead things

I'm really not sure that this comment, true though it may be, covers the
case.  The likeliest market for restoratoins of prehistoric animals is in
popular books, often children's books, and the power of an image to "fix" in
the public's mind what an animal looked like should not be underestimated.
To me this imposes something of a duty on the artist.

However, in most cases the fault, if there is one, lies not with the artist
but with the editor (often not the book's author) who writes the picture
captions.  I personally get particularly offended when I see (say) complete
restorations of early mammals known only from teeth, labelled simply with a
caption like "This is a [whatever]."  It would not take too much more effort
to caption the picture "Artist's impression of [whatever], which is known
only from teeth", with perhaps an indication that the artist is basing the
restoration on better-known relations.  Sometimes the results of further
discovery can be pretty shocking (as I recall the postcranial skeleton of
the wierd, aquatic Desmostylians was entirely different from what had been
expected when the skull was first found).

And, of course, I would hope Betty would agree that artistic licence should
be hedged, in a book designed to educate, by a need to be as accurate as
possible and to take current knowledge into account as much as can be done.
Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886 (home)
International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116 (home)
Home: 1825 Shady Creek Court                  Messages: (416) 368-4661
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2          Internet: ornstn@inforamp.net
Office: 130 Adelaide Street W., Suite 1940    
Toronto, Ontario Canada M5H 3P5