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Re: Notes on scientifically comparative paleoposes

Dear Jason,

you certainly overplay Mr. Paul's importance here.

> More than anyone else, Mr. Paul brought these animals
> to life as running, kicking, vital animals, not as awkward relics.
 is an exaggeration. While Mr. Paul's contribution was certainly very
important, he himself wrote how important Bakker's drawings were to
him - bringing the animals to life, etc. As has been pointed out
repeatedly, Bakker played an equally important role for many people.
This doesn't diminish the impact of the Paulian drawings, but you
single him out for praise in a way that is not a true reflection of
the facts.

> I think we should follow Mr.
> Paul's example - examine and measure the fossils in person, research the
> anatomy, motion, and behavior of living animals (especially archosaurs) in
> depth,

Again, you're exaggerating. If you read up on what sources Mr. Paul
(was forced to) base(d) his drawings you will quickly realize that the
usually measures photographs or scientific publications. It is a sad
fact that Mr. Paul does not have the financial means to measure the
bones themselves.That's true for the extant animals as well: if you
search the DML for a post saying someone needs to go shoot that horse
it will take you to an exchange between a certain Mr. Paul and a
scientist during which Mr. Paul makes it very clear that he does not
have any funds to do the research needed.

Now, does this reflect badly on him? Not at all! He does, as far as I
can tell, always list his sources, making it clear if the data was
taken from old publications or photographs. So he is perfectly open
and honest. Also, why should it reflect negatively on someone if he
doesn#t have a private fortune to waste on travels, or doesn't send in
dozens of grant requests?

However, to claim that the Paul way is the BEST way to do, the one we
should all follow - well, if one can get grants, then using 3D high
res bone scans in a CAD program can't be beat for accuracy.

> I think it would be better to study and work on one fossil for your whole
> life and really master it than to draw a thousand fossils you’ve never
> seen in person.

Ouch - this is exactly what Mr. Paul did - not by choice; I am sure he
would have much preferred to be able to study them in the museum
cellars and exhibitions, instead of on paper!

> 3) My understanding of Mr. Paul’s process is that he draws elevations –
> side views of the skeletons with the sagittal plane perfectly
> perpendicular to the viewer’s line of sight - and sometimes dorsal views
> and anterior views as well. The point of this is to eliminate the
> distortions inherent in perspective drawing. Each bone is drawn to the
> same scale, so the proportions can be compared and trusted.
> His process is a brilliant innovation.

Is it his innovation? Or is it simply the application of techniques
that have existed for centuries to the field of paleo? I'd say it is
the latter..... Again, this doesn't make his work any less good than
it is, or less important - but you are glorifying him to an extent
that is not deserved.

> Mr. Paul’s process is so obviously superior that the reader may forget
> that no three - dimensional object can be converted into a flat drawing
> without distortions. Just as quick examples, the femurs do not lie
> perfectly in a parasagittal plane and, thus, they must be foreshortened
> even in an elevation view.

which somehow did not happen in Mr. Paul's Plateosaurus drawings. OOPS!

> Thus, in my experience, the only way to produce a representation that is
> free of any distortion is to sculpt it. Dinosaurs, after all, were three -
> dimensional. The resulting maquette can be photographed and/or drawn in
> various positions for use in reconstruction drawings.

Sculptures, in my experience, can be very good. but hey, this is the
age of digital data - and digital data is immune to errors of
perspective and distortions!

Heinrich Mallison