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KERATINOUS SKULLS & G. CASELLI



Re: Horner & Marshall's idea about keratinous ceratopian 
skulls (an idea mentioned also by Tracy in _How to Draw 
Dinosaurs_) - not having seen their presentation I want to 
remain cautious but I'm deeply sceptical. The reason is... 
(this was going to be saved for the taphonomy book I spent 
all of last year working on but this has now bitten the 
proverbial dust) ... the skulls of elephants (or _Elephas 
maximus_ at least) exhibit areas on the frontals deeply 
incised by what appear to be channels for blood vessels, 
pretty much identical to the surface texture of ceratopian 
frills. Obviously, elephant frontals are not covered by a 
keratinous sheath. This bone texture does not therefore 
indicate a keratinous covering. I wonder if Horner and 
Marshall know this.

Giovanni Caselli's artwork: Halstead's book _The Evolution 
& Ecology of the Dinosaurs_ (1975) was the first 'proper' 
dinosaur book I ever saw as a child, meaning that I grew up 
with _Plateosaurus_ as 'the first warm-blooded dinosaur', 
amphibious _Parasaurolophus_,  _Tyrannosaurus_ as a 
waddling slowcoach incapable of eating anything but soft 
rancid carrion and _Compsognathus corralestris_ as a blue 
flippered lagoon-dweller. That same book depicts the 
iguanodons of Bernissart as falling into a ravine after being 
spooked by lightning, shows the imagined mating posture of 
_Camptosaurus_ (since copied by E. Collins for _The Book 
of Life_), has _Stegosaurus_ with an erect forelimb carriage 
and plates that flop sideways, and _Quetzalcoatlus_ as a 
pin-headed bright red handglider. 

The restorations of the Triassic European beach, with 
_Tanystropheus_, _Nothosaurus_ (and supposed babies.. 
actually pachypleurosaurs) and a pterosaur is still awesome 
and I also really enjoy the Tendaguru and British Triassic 
fissure fauna scenes (with _Clevosaurus_, 
_Kuehneosaurus_, morganucodontids, trilophosaurs and 
prosauropods). A Jurassic marine scene where a 
_Liopleurodon_ is grabbing a surprised metriorhynchid is 
British palaeo-art at its best. Halstead believed that 
plesiosaurs had a diamond-shaped fin at the tail tip and 
consequently Caselli's _Liopleurodon_ and 
_Cryptoclidus_have this feature: strangely though, the 
_Hydrotherosaurus_ in another painting does not. What 
could be regarded as the most technically inaccurate 
painting in the book features various animals thought at the 
time to have been contemporaneous with Late Cretaceous 
dinosaurs. A python is looking at a little shrew-like 
mammal - both more or less forgiveable - but the birds 
include modern gulls, waders and an owl (shades of 
Bradycnemidae?).

For me, Caselli's artwork is wonderfully nostalgic stuff. I 
recently did some research on his career for an up-coming 
project. He did do a book on human evolution (again with 
fantastic art: the neanderthals are depicted are being like 
inuit, with sledges, complex garments etc) but most of his 
stuff is on archaeology and human history. He does have a 
web site but I can't find it right now.

Incidentally there are two editions of _The Evolution & 
Ecology of the Dinosaurs_. About the only difference is 
that, while Bidar et al.'s interpretation of _C. corralestris_ is 
accepted at face value in the first edition, it's not in the 
second (1981) edition. I have very tatty and pristine 
versions of the first edition but am still on the lookout for a 
second edition. Over the years I have by chance discovered 
that a few other researchers were greatly influenced by this 
book in their formative years and it's good to know I'm in 
very good company.

-- 
Darren Naish
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
University of Portsmouth UK, PO1 3QL

email: darren.naish@port.ac.uk
tel: 023 92846045