Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mo' Better Dinosaurs!

I’ve just learned that my friends Robert Walters and Tess Kissinger have won the prestigious John J. Lanzendorf PaleoArt Prize for the Morrison Formation mural at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Neither you nor I has seen the mural yet, because it’s a major part of the Carnegie’s revamping of their world-famous Dinosaur Hall, which doesn’t open to the public until November 21. But as the above snippet demonstrates, it looks to be everything you want from a dinosaur mural. It is also the longest and largest such mural in the world – 15 feet high and 180 feet long.

The Morrison formation, found in the western US and Canada, is one of the most productive sources of dinosaur fossils in North America, and a window into the late Jurassic, roughly 150 million years ago. It is intimately connected to the Carnegie’s history as the source of (among many others) their first and possibly most iconic dinosaur fossil, that of Diplodocus carnegii. There’s a statue of “Dippy” outside the museum.

The mural was painted using linked Apple computers and electronic stylus brushes. Bob and Tess tell me that because of its enormous size, constant changes required during the mural’s creation, and detailed scientific accuracy required for every plant and creature shown, the mural has a credit list “as long as a Hollywood movie’s.” I’ll try to get hold of that list so I can post it here when they have some free time. Not anytime before November 21, obviously. They'll be too busy.

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