A Selection Of Amazing Dinosaur Reconstructions

On September 14, 2014 by Tim Newman


Initially I wanted to present to you a collection of pictures of ropy artist’s impressions of dinosaurs; but when I started searching I came across so many pictures and stories that it sort of mutated into a general look at the lighter side of dinosaur models and a retrospective of mad paleoart.

The article became a bit of a meandering waltz in the end, but I hope you enjoy it. My journey through avant-garde depictions of dinosaurs started with the one above. The picture stars Therizinosaurus, his name means ‘reaping lizard’. He had a short body, long neck and a tiny head with a beak. He also sported a pot belly and walked on two feet. He hung about in Asian woodland around 80 million years ago and was about 35 feet long weighing in at around 3 tons.

It was the bold stripes on this therizinosaurus that fired this idea off. It’s just an artist’s impression of course, we can’t know for sure what colour they were, but I guess the artists’ guess is as good as ours.

Luis ReyOdd Chick dinosaur depiction

Some of the images I’m going to plant up here I don’t have much to say about, I just bring them to your attention because I love them. Like these by Luis Rey:

amazing proto-feathered bird

… and one more because this guy is rapidly becoming my favourite artist of all time. Here are gigantoraptor’s nesting grounds with an invading alectrosaurus:

Gigantoraptor Nesting Grounds with Alectrosaurus

Continue to next page for a massive purple rendition…

Purple Display Sacs?

The next artist I stumbled across – Brian Engh – runs dontmesswithdinosaurs.com and he’s another wonderful paleoartist with a glint in his eye. Below is his interpretation of a brachiosaur. Normally these giant beasts are drawn in rather dowdy attire, maybe that really is how they looked, or perhaps they looked like this?:

Brachiosaurus purple display sack

In his blurb Engh explains that he feels something is missing from standard drawings of dinosaurs, so he adds this extra layer of pomp and jazz because in the animal kingdom there’s never any shortage of weird. Engh also wonders whether an animal could be too big for camouflage. It makes sense really, an animal that is green or brown in a world of green or brown will pass on its green or brown genes because his green or brown-ness means he doesn’t get picked off by predators and manages to mate.

A dinosaur that could literally never hide from anything wouldn’t have the same selection pressure. So what colour would it become?

Brachiosaurus incredible display sack

Engh sought feedback on his painting from Matt Wedel a Professor and respected dinosaur expert. Here’s what Wedel had to say about this magnificent purple brachiosaur…

I think it rocks. But not nearly enough. Look up some pictures of prairie chickens, hooded seals, singing frogs, and everything else with inflatable display sacs. They don’t look like they just swallowed a stick of Mentos–they look like freeze-frames from half a millisecond after the the detonation of that bomb they swallowed. Real display sacs are so big and so colorful that no other animal could possibly mistake them for anything else. Therefore if you want to draw speculative display sacs they must be so big and colorful that none of the people who see the piece could possibly mistake them for anything else… If you go bold, you won’t be right; whatever you dream up is not going to the same as whatever outlandish structure the animal actually had. On the other hand, if you don’t go bold, you’ll still be wrong, and now you’ll be boring, too.

Crystal Palace Iguanodon

Crystal Palace Iguanodon incorrect

The iguanodon statue above has garnered modern interest, not because of its beauty but because of its inaccuracy. Iguanodon is now considered by modern paleontologists to have stood on two feet; and the horn on the nose was in fact a horny thumb. Here’s a more modern version, although this is actually dated but by decades rather than centuries. I just love the wattle…

Iguanodon more modern version

In 1854 the Crystal Park dinosaur reconstructions were commissioned and became the first models of dinosaurs in the world, years before Darwin brought out that theory of his. They were sculpted by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins under the scientific direction of Sir Richard Owen. Although we may scoff at them now, using what they had at the time they did a pretty darned good job.


Owen himself even considered the horn on the nose to be “doubtful”. The problem was, they’d only found one of the thumbs at the time so it sort of made sense.

Bob Nicholls

zhuchengtyrannus - bob nicholls

Bob has been a paleoartist for over 10 years. He’s quite good. He takes commissions so click here if you want to get your own personal picture of any dinosaur you fancy. Above is Bob’s interpretation of the tyrannosaur zhuchengtyrannus and below is his action packed portrait of Suchomimus:

Suchomimus Bob Nicholls

Bob Nicholl - of-giants-and-dwarfs-sample Bob Nicholl - Torvosaurus

Bob Nicholl - cretaceous jaws

Continue to next page for some of the oddest dino images around…

All Yesterdays

All Yesterdays - Megaraptor

Megaraptor resting

All Yesterdays is a book written and illustrated with the intention of questioning standard depictions of dinosaurs. It’s the love child of palaeozoologist Darren Naish, and palaeontological artists John Conway and C.M. Kosemen.

All Yesterdays is scientifically rigorous and artistically imaginative, the authors wanted to push the envelope a little and see what popped out when they squeezed.

All Yesterdays - plesiosaurs

Did plesiosaurs lie on the sea bed and hunt using camouflage?

Their aim is to make you rethink the norm of paleoart. Why not depict them in trees or at rest, they’re equally valid behaviours, and even lions sleep, so why not ancient killers too?

All Yesterdays - Protoceratops


All Yesterdays - Sauropods


To ram home their point about the difficulties of modern reconstructions of dinosaurs they include pictures like the one below. Many dinosaur reconstructions follow the skeleton of the dinosaur closely and faithfully.

In reality animals fur and fleshy folds actually makes up their visible shape. The picture below is a baboon, reconstructed from its skeleton, quite a different beast altogether:

All Yesterdays - Baboon

…and the same satirical treatment for a domestic cat:

All Yesterdays - cat

The artwork is wonderful…

All Yesterdays - Allosaurus


All Yesterdays - Giraffatitan

Giraffatitan rolling in the mud…

Were Parasaurolophus actually fatties? They could have been…

All Yesterdays - Parasaurolophus

 Lukas Panzarin

Lukas Panzarin is another paleoartist worthy of mention. He’s a German chap and that’s all I can tell you I’m afraid. He’s particularly good at dinosaur heads it seems.



"Joe" - a young Parasaurolophus

“Joe” – a young Parasaurolophus

"Joe" - a young Parasaurolophus

“Joe” – a young Parasaurolophus

Coahuilaceratops - first horned dinosaur discovered in Mexico

Coahuilaceratops – first horned dinosaur discovered in Mexico

Palmer Coolum Resort

Palmer Coolum Resort - sign

You would be forgiven for thinking that everyone loves dinosaurs, it just makes sense. But dinosaurs can also cause their own interpersonal discord on occasion. Clive Palmer (below) owns the Coolum Resort in Queensland, Australia. It’s a wonderful golf club and spa with a five star hotel attached for good measure. The golf course is one of the best in the world and holds the Australian PGA.

It’s a classy location by all accounts… or at least it was.

Palmer Coolum Resort - clive

But what really stands out about this place is the fact that it’s full of 100+ giant dinosaurs. That for me is a pretty big plus, but not everyone agrees that these huge ancient beasts really suit a sensible and high brow sporting location.

Palmer Coolum Resort - t rex on golf course

Since Palmer took the place over in 2012 the hotel has sacked half of its staff, had large and pubilc rows with Queensland officials and received scathing reviews all round from disgruntled customers. Apparently some people aren’t too keen on having huge mechanised dinosaurs roaring within metres of their rooms?

Palmer Coolum Resort - t rex on golf course 2

Clive hasn’t done himself any favours though, he sees himself as some kind of demigod. There are pictures of him all over the place and even entire TV channels that blare out documentaries about him 24 hours a day. I’d still like to visit, but I’m in no rush.

Feathered Dinosaurs

Feathered dinosaur - Deinonychus model


The biggest change in paleoart in recent years has been the addition of “protofeathers”. A series of incredible fossils were found in China’s Liaoning province all bearing the hallmarks of these fur-like early feather designs. This new twist has moved the vibe away from elephant-like colouring to the much jazzier palette of our friends in the world of birds.

Feathered dinosaur - Troodon


Although time and fossilisation doesn’t retain coloured pigments, it’s not such a push to imagine that they were as varied as the modern bird life we see around us now.

Feathered dinosaur - Anzu wyliei

Anzu wyliei

Feathered dinosaur - Beipaosaurus and Sinovenator

Beipaosaurus and Sinovenator

Feathered dinosaur - Dilong paradoxus

Dilong paradoxus

Cabazon Dinosaurs

CabazonDinosaurs - Dinny

The Cabazon Dinosaurs are a couple of huge dinosaur models referred to as Claude Bell’s Dinosaurs. They sit a few miles west of Palm Springs behind the Wheel Inn diner. The site features Dinny the Dinosaur, a 150-ton building shaped like an Apatosaurus, and Mr. Rex, a 100-ton Tyrannosaurus rex structure.

CabazonDinosaurs - Dinny and Mr Rex

Claude Bell built the monsters in the 60’s to attract customers to his Wheel Inn diner. Dinny took 11 years to build in total, using industrial scrap from the building of the new interstate nearby, costing $300,000. Mr Rex was added in 1981, a wooly mammoth and prehistoric garden were planned but never came to fruition after Bell’s death in 1988. They even got a cameo role in Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure film:

CabazonDinosaurs - pee wee's big adventure

Bell’s museum-type displays within the mighty frame of Dinny were based on evolution and the fossil record, but unfortunately the interior of Dinny is now used as a young earth creationist’s children museum.

World’s Biggest Dinosaur

Drumheller Dinosaur Largest In World carpark

If you were impressed with Dinny and Mr Rex then this guy will blow your chops off. This fiberglass behemoth is situated in Drumheller town in the Canadian province of Alberta. He’s 25 metres tall and 46 metres long winning him the accolade of biggest dinosaur in the world. His size also makes him around four times bigger than a real life T Rex.

Drumheller Dinosaur Largest In World

Drumheller is home to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology and various smaller dinosaur models are peppered throughout the town.

Drumheller Dinosaur Largest In World view

The view from inside the mouth of the largest dinosaur on earth…

 Buy Your Own Dinosaur

Buy Your Own Dinosaur

If, like me, you now wish to own your own dinosaur representation here’s where to go… dinostatues.com

Are they a bit pricey? Yes they are, but they’re well worth the money. It’s going to cost you a bit getting it shipped but this has now become my dream: to own a life size dinosaur.

Buy Your Own Dinosaur - tailor made

They’d probably double up as an anti-cat and bird device for your seedlings. Although I’m not sure if a modern feline would recognise a T Rex as one of its natural predators? I guess if you hooked it up with motion sensitive lasers it would soon learn…


As you can imagine, along this winding, dinosaur infested internet path I found some other interesting and/or daft dinosaur related pictures, so I’m going to dump them here to round things off…

Misc - Robo Triceratops

Misc - Camarasaurus head


Misc - Chinese Dinosaur Zodiac -  IsisMasshiro

Chinese Dinosaur Zodiac by Isis Masshiro

Misc - Koreaceratops hwaseongensis

Koreaceratops hwaseongensis

Misc - Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus

Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus

Misc - My little dinosaurs

My Little Dinosaurs

robot dinosaus with laser

Misc - Nasutoceratops big nose


Misc - Tianyulong confuciusi

Tianyulong confuciusi

So what started out as a simple article with the simple aim of laughing at mad dinosaur pictures turned into a less than simple, focus-less ramble. Thanks for coming along if you made it this far.

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