What If...Dinosauroid

Friday, September 25, 2009

A theoretical reptilian humanoid has also been the focus of a widely discussed thought experiment in speculative evolution. In particular, in 1982 paleontologist Dale Russell, curator of vertebrate fossils at the National Museum of Canada in Ottawa, conjectured a possible evolutionary path that might have been taken by the dinosaur Troodon (then called Stenonychosaurus) had they not all perished in the K/T extinction event 65 million years ago. The essence of this thought experiment was that bipedal predators (theropods) which existed at that time, such as Troodon, could have evolved into intelligent beings similar in body plan to humans. Over geologic time, Russell noted that there had been a steady increase in the encephalization quotient or EQ (the relative brain weight when compared to other species with the same body weight) among the dinosaurs. Russell had discovered the first Troodontid skull, and noted that, while its EQ was low compared to humans, it was six times higher than that of other dinosaurs. If the trend in Troodon evolution had continued to the present, its brain case could by now measure 1,100 cm3; comparable to that of a human. Troodontids had semi-manipulative fingers, able to grasp and hold objects to a certain degree, and binocular vision.

Russel proposed that this Dinosauroid, like most dinosaurs of the troodontid family, would have had large eyes and three fingers on each hand, one of which would have been partially opposed. As with most modern reptiles (and birds), he conceived of its genitalia as internal. Russell speculated that it would have required a navel, as a placenta aids the development of a large brain case. However, it would not have possessed mammary glands, and would have fed its young, as birds do, on regurgitated food. He speculated that its language would have sounded somewhat like bird song.

Russell's thought experiment has been met with criticism from other paleontologists since the 1980s, many of whom point out that Russell's Dinosauroid is overly anthropomorphic. Gregory S. Paul (1988) and Thomas R. Holtz Jr., consider it "suspiciously human" (Paul, 1988) and argue that a large-brained, highly intelligent troodontid would retain a more standard theropod body plan, with a horizontal posture and long tail, and would probably manipulate objects with the snout and feet in the manner of a bird, rather than with human-like "hands".

Dino is Angry at World

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Grumpy Dino
21 May 07 Today's Kongcept artwork comes from Greg Broadmore, who created a Mr "Angry at the World" Dino for Peter Jackson's King Kong.
Greg explains how this illustration came about:
"This illustration was relatively late in the design process and was actually for what ended up being the quadrupedal crocodile like reptile that attacks Anne in the log: 'Foetodon'.
Angry at the World by Greg Broadmore "At the time we had no idea of the nature of the scene that this creature would appear in, all we knew was that it had to be a new dinosaur. Although we quickly found out that this would be a quadruped, at this point anything was open. I did this guy as a medium to large sized therapod but with a slightly more upright and so 'classic' dinosaur posture. It has huge blades as it's front claws.
"I really enjoyed getting to just make up a dinosaur, I do that anyway for fun, so this was just a great opportunity to have fun with design. I really got into the weight and texture of the skin, I love doing that stuff."
Check out the Kongcept Image Gallery for larger pop ups of this image. If you're a Weta Forum Member, you can leave comments, too!

Weta Artists in Magazine Double-Header

Weta Artists in magazine Double Header
Weta artists have recently featured in a well organized double feature in design magazines 3D World and ImagineFX.
3D World magazine
First, Weta Productions animation director Steve Lambert provided a complete (21 page!) step-by-step guide to animating a dinosaur in 3D World.  The contents included:

  • Modelling a basic blockmesh in Maya
  • Refining the form and sculpting surface detail in ZBrush
  • Painting surface textures in ZBrush
  • Setting up a production-quality full-body rig in Maya
  • Keyframing basic walk and run cycles
  • Setting up a subsurface scattering shader network in Maya
  • Rendering the finished animation
The magazine’s companion DVD included seven hours of screen capture videos showing Steve at work.
ImagineFX Cover
ImagineFX followed up with Weta Workshop designer and illustrator Greg Broadmore walking us through the process of creating the Dinosaur used in Steve’s 3D World tutorial.
Greg takes us from basic research into dinosaurs, through deciding on a name to pencil-and-paper sketches, bone models and then detailed colour and texture work in Photoshop.