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Glendon’s Top 5 Paleoart Books You Must Own

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Protoceratops © by John Conway, from All Yesterdays

As someone fascinated by prehistoric life during my entire existence, my love for paleoart is experiencing something of a renaissance: I have children now. There’s nothing more enchanting than reading a dinosaur book with a 3 year old and talking about the beasties.

“Maybe this one ate fish.”

“No, he don’t. He eats potatoes.”

Take that, Baryonx.

Here are the top 5 books about paleoart I think everyone should have on their bookshelf. In no particular order.

Top 5 Paleoart Books


ABC Dinosaur, by The American Museum of Natural history and Scott Hartman. My son and I read this one all the time, sometimes practising with the letters, other times talking about the dinosaurs. One of the most-read books on in the book basket.

Dinosaur Art: The World’s Greatest Paleoart, edited by Steve White. Titan Books. Cover by Raul Martin. This book is definitive enough of the modern view of dinosaurs that it is a must-own for everyone with even a passing interest in dinosaurs. Kalliopi reviewed this on Symbiartic here.

The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi: Dinosaurs, Sabre-Tooths and Beyond, Julius Csotonyi and Steve White, Titan Books. You can read my full review on Symbiartic here, but I’ll say this book is so complete it feels like a compilation. Oh, and Csotonyi just launched a new website, check it out.

Pterosaurs, Mark P. Witton, Princeton. Dinosaurs shouldn’t have all the fun on this list. After reading through and admiring Witton’s exhaustive work on pterosaurs, I still come away believing these are some of the strangest, most beautiful animals to have ever lived.

All Yesterdays: Unique and Speculative Views of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals, John Conway, C.M. Koseman and Darren NaishIrregular Books. I was late to the party (my own fault) when this book came out and it is bar-none my absolute favourite. This book pushes the limit of how dinosaurs may have looked, and moves away from the traditionally light and routine speculation about their appearance into the realm of still-possible but wild and fascinating. This book ignites my own imagination, and hopefully will ignite my childrens’ as they get older. I can’t wait to dive into the sequel, All Your Yesterdays.

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And because I am restless and never content, here is a list of the

Top 5 Paleoart Books I Wish Existed

Carl Buell – the King of Paleo Mammals. I’ve said enough about this already.

Brett Booth, currently the artist on DC Comics’ The Flash, Booth can create some killer dinosaurs. Heck, why not include other professional comic book artists? Call it “Savage Land” and make it a big retrospective on dinosaurs in superhero books. But Booth gets the cover.

Emily Willoughby – a book by Willoughby would be the one I would leave out when guests come over. It would look gorgeous with the fine china.

Eric Orchard – intricately cross-hatched feathered theropods on a spooky adventure to find a legendary talking skeleton. If you can’t picture it, check the Trilobite Boy illustration I commissioned from him for my character.

Raven Amos and Scott Elyard (aka Cubelight GFX) - I picture this as being a cross-continental roadtrip documented through sketches and paintings while they paint prehistoric life and occasionally battle robots.

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The danger of making any lists is pressing “Post” and then remembering all the other things you left out. What are your top paleoart books? Let me know in the comments below!

Glendon Mellow About the Author: Glendon Mellow is a fine artist, illustrator and tattoo designer working in oil and digital media based in Toronto, Canada. He tweets @FlyingTrilobite. You can see Glendon's work-in-progress at The Flying Trilobite blog and portfolio at www.glendonmellow.com. Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Talcott 2:34 pm 06/28/2014

    I’ll second everything up there!

    As [rightly] infamous as David Peters has become, I love his painting style, and his “A Gallery of Dinosaurs & Other Early Reptiles” is one of my favorites on a purely visual level.

    While very dated at this point, I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug Norman and Sibbick’s Encyclopedia. Not only was it a formative book for me growing up, it’s STILL the most copied paleoart out there. I think an argument could be made that Sibbick is the Charles Knight of the late 20th century. That isn’t a book I’d recommend for someone who wants to understand dinosaurs as we know them today, but if you want to see the evolution in our understanding, and are interested in the history of paleoart, it’s a must-read.

    I’m also a huge fan of Thomas Holtz and Luis Rey’s “Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia.” The science is more up-to-date, and Rey takes a lot of “All Yesterdays”-ish liberties with his illustrations.

    The big book that I’d like to have, both as a reader and an artist, is a fully-illustrated guide to prehistoric environments. There are plenty of artists who draw and paint fantastic backgrounds, but the animals are always the focus. What I want is something that focuses on the flora and climate, with the animals in the background. As a reader, I imagine that would be the kind of picture book that I get lost in, spending hours in the painted environment. As an artist, it would be incredibly handy to have an easy-to-read visual guide to plants to place alongside the dinosaurs I draw.

    Link to this

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