“But ABC!” I hear you say. “Dinosaurs aren’t monsters, they’re fascinating animals that are still with us today in the form of vicious brain-eating backyard predators!” Rubbish, I say. The dinosaurs I’m about to show you are true monsters that crawled from the fevered minds of 50s children’s book illustrators.
Specifically, they came from this book The Wonderful World, written by James Fisher in 1954. I suppose it’s okay for a book from the 50s, the information in it is as dated as you’d expect, but the main draw here is the two-page dinosaur spread. The cover gives you a glimpse – okay, a major spoiler of the horror to come.
This is the bit where the book talks about dinosaurs. The entire prehistory bit was obviously cribbed from the vastly superior The World We Live In (still the best science series/book ever made, 50s or not), with some images directly copied from it. But the dinosaurs look like they started with Zallinger’s mural before getting seriously mangled in translation.
The sauropods in the background aren’t so bad, even if they do have microscopic heads vanishing into the distance. The true horrors are the two foreground figures.
By now you know this Tyrannosaurus from the cover. Someone please explain to me the anatomy of this thing, because I’m quite sure it’s impossible on this planet (and several others). The artist must have been playing Starsiege or Mechwarrior prior to painting. I don’t know where its right leg went eithe – oh , nevermind, there it is pinning its food down. It’s munching on Stegosaurus for extra irony (the two never lived together, much as Fantasia would have you believe otherwise. In fact, there’s more time between Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus than there is between Tyrannosaurus and us).
It’s hard to top the Tyrannosaurus, but in my opinion the hadrosaur is at least as horrifying, if not even worse. Look at it. Look. Its eyes stare into your very soul. Its hand is distressingly human. And it appears to be phasing into the mud (the dreaded Shadowduck of the X-Men). That or it has no hind legs to speak of.
No wonder some people complain about feathered dinosaurs. They must have grown up on these abominations.