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Re: Khaan's paleoecology & artist inaccuracy



    Dan Varner said, "The painting is gorgeous and there is a full moon rising in the sky."
 
    It is a beautiful painting (http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/Fossil_Halls/Timelines/cretaceous1.html).  Wouldn't it seem more appropriate, however, especially with it being at the AMNH, if the Oviraptor guarding the nest had some feathers (at least on the arms), but maybe this painting was done before discoveries suggesting such? Or, is the image resolution just too poor to show that?
 
    One thing is certain, though.  If Dan is right and what is depicted is a full moon, it could not, in reality, appear in that sky.  Why not?  Note that the angle made by the shadow of the Oviraptor's left wrist when joined to the animal's left wrist.  This tells us the sun is very approximately 30 (or more) degrees above the horizon.  Thus, a moon in that sky position should not be full.  I enlarged the image to see if the moon is really full, and although the resolution makes it difficult to tell, there may be a slight shadow on the left side of the moon.  Yet, if what I may be seeing there is in fact a darkened sliver of the moon, the shadow still would not be sufficient and at the correct angle to have been produced by the sun location as implied by the Oviraptor's shadow.
 
    My point is this:  At least when artists are doing works for a scientific institution, it seems to me that no artistic license should be taken with astronomical reality and that care should be taken to depict it accurately -- even when dinosaurs are at 'center stage'.  :-}Furthermore, fidelity to reality makes a painting feel more 'right'  (probably even to astronomically unaware observers), and it could prevent embarrassment to the institution that displays it and save an artist time in repainting the moon phase (in this case).
 
    So, what if the contracting officer for the museum says he wants a full moon there and shadows to remain as they are?  I'd ask if his is a scientific institution or a 'science fantasy' club and insist my painting be appropriate to the former and no less.
 
    What say you paleo painters out there?  Should the best science prevail in all phases of dinosaur-containing works of art for scientific institutions, or, are certain 'artistic liberties' O.K.?
 
    Ray Stanford
 
"You know my method.  It is founded upon the observance of trifles." -- Sherlock Holmes in The Boscombe Valley Mystery