Plateo-bot part 2

Last time, I showed you these photos of the Plateosaurus maquette made by Jeff Matney, the lead sculptor at Billings Productions Inc.

Steve P. commented:

Can I preempt a few of your reactions?
1) Overall too slenderly built, especially belly and tail;
2) Hands should have five fingers, not four, and the fingers should not be stubby (and should, of course, not all be the same length);
3) Feet should have five toes, not four, and the first and fifth should not be touching the ground;
4) M. caudofemoralis longis atrophied / non existent;
5) Head looks more like that of Coloradisaurus (on full body model);
6) Neck shouldn’t meet chest so smoothly – there should be a very distinct chest “shelf”.
Right ballpark? The sculpt looks nice, just not accurate.

That’s a pretty good list right there!

First off, the sculpt does look nice! Jeff managed to make not a monster, but a weird animal – and dinosaurs are weird when you’re used (as we are) to mammals and birds as “normal”. The key term of the last sentence is, by the way, “animal”! The sculpt looks like a proper animal, it’s got proportions that looks kinda right. Well done, Jeff – many artists do not manage this in 3D!

Ok, so here’s what I wrote:

– more belly! Plateosaurus was herbivorous, the belly should be fairly
large. I can trace the outline onto a side view photograph, if that
helps. Don’t use my model from the papers, one is intentionally too
fat, the other is a bit on the slim side.
– hands: I was not entirely exact in my papers; the fifth digit is
splayed, and a lot! See attached screenshot. I’ll get you more views
of the hands with flexed fingers tomorrow.
– feet: the toes are quite short (but that may be the perspective
screwing with me, it may well be too unguligrade [walking on the tips
of its toes] instead of “properly” digitigrade [with most of the toe
on the ground]).
– feet: there is more wrong with the toes: Plateosaurus, counter to
what 90% of all people claimed, made three-toed tracks! See attached
image. A lot of theropod tracks from the Triassic of Germany may well
be plateosaurid tracks 🙂
– feet again: bring them closer together! You could place one under
the body midline, the other forward a half-step, and placed only
slightly less than hip-width to the side. That would look like the
animal just took a slow step forward while feeding.

About the pose: the tail looks a bit drooping, why not bring it up to
horizontal? I’ll attach a pic, […]
Here’s a general rule for this: if you think of a dinosaur, think of a
large bird!  Do not think of a lizard or any other reptile! This means
an S-curved neck, an alert stance, quick movements!

As you can see, Steve P. and I agree on his points 1, 2 and 4. The feet are correct with four toes, not five – or if there was an externally visible fifth toes, it was tiny. I didn’t address the head at all, because my knowledge is too limited. Preserved skulls are all deformed, so going by Huene’s figure or photos is deceptive.

Here’s the pic of the (digital) foot I attached; a very similar view of the CAD model is figured in my chapter of the Computational Paleontology book edited by Ashraf Elewa (Mallison 2011).

I also asked for lateral shots, anterior shots, dorsal shots, and so on, to be better able to judge the proportions. Pretty soon, Robby and Jeff email back with them – I’ll show you tomorrow.


Mallison, H. (2011). Digitizing methods for paleontology – applications, benefits and limitations, pp. 7-44. In Elewa, A.M.T. (ed.): Computational Paleontology. Springer.

About Heinrich Mallison

I'm a dinosaur biomech guy
This entry was posted in Plateo-bot. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Plateo-bot part 2

  1. Steve P says:

    Well, I did use your papers as a reference for my suggestions, so I can only say that I’ve been standing on the shoulders of Digital Plateosauruses… Looking forward to seeing more shots! When the inaccuracies are addressed it’ll be a nice model – it’d be awesome to see it scanned and made into a miniature. I presume you must have seen the Carnegie Collection’s Plateosaurus ( – for mine, this is still the best mass-produced Plateosaurus model out (despite the tripod pose – OK if the animal is meant to be feeding, I guess).

  2. Pingback: Plateo-bot 3 | dinosaurpalaeo

  3. Pingback: Plateo-bot 4: getting real | dinosaurpalaeo

  4. Nicolas Iribarne says:

    Eh visto el esqueleto del Plateosaurus y coincido con las correcciones que te han dado, soy artista (con titulo recibido) y si tú eres un buen artista debes también saber oír las criticas.
    Piel : tu escultura no tiene piel de dinosaurio debes hacerla, parece piel de cerdo lo que se ve en tu obra.
    Proporciones: buscando en Internet imágenes del esqueleto del Plateosaurio veo un animal de gran volumen corporal, no solo muestra extremidades gruesas también se ve una fuerte cola, un torax extenso y grande en cambio tu escultura no muestra una relacion proporcional entre el torax y las patas traseras ( acorde con el esqueleto del animal ) , no me da el aspecto grotesco caracteristico del Plateosaurus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.