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Dinos-schminos, Brontosaurus or Apatosaurus … WTF?

March 12, 2011

Dino butts now stick up high in the air? Tails up or low, neck high or low? What a nice gig, a ‘Paleontologist’.  They actually get paid to do that work? ;)   All this Dino Bone-Wars going on for plethora of years ….  it’s like a niche ‘business/ industry’. So many ‘bones of contention’ :P in the general world of  ‘Science’,  throughout history and to present ….  politics, agendas, ego, power, and not necessarily supposedly ‘objective science’  …. but I digress :)

As we all know, many of the human young male species aka KIDS/BOYS have had fascination with ‘dinosaurs’ and it looks like lots of male ‘adults’ are still compulsive about them too. Okay, Dinos are cool but I am not fanatically obsessed about them. I have a few dinosaur books and that’s it. My bookshelves are not filled with Dinosaur publications up the wah-zoo. For myself, I maybe only fabricated a couple of Dino armatures but of course, I have designed & constructed them for others.

The only remaining Dino armature I have was buried in basement here and was  all stiff & had a thin layer of rust, all over it. It was a Brontosaurus armature, however, the  Paleontologist ’powers that be‘, now call it an Apatosaurus. This Bronto armature was an early one, shortly after I finished my gig on Gumby (1988),  I made in secrecy, experimenting & refining the Open Hole Ball & Socket Joints methods.  I had no mill and did not use any lathe or any kind of machining equipment. Just Drill Press, Hack Saws, Hand Files, sturdy bench Clamp/Vise, & using some of my soldering skills (from my Dental Technology early career). At the time there was NO Internet, no Google or ‘In your Facebook’. I had no knowledge of Dino anatomy and so, I went to library to look at few books about their anatomy and just eyeballed approximate locations of where the armature joints should go. In one of my Cinefanstastique magazines, there was a  grainy small photo of Jim Danforth’s Mother Dinosaur Armature (‘When Dinos Ruled the Earth’). With magnifying glass, I did my best to study that puny black & white magazine photo and used some of the Mother Dino armaturing style for my Bronto test armature construction. At the time (‘88-’89), I think the ‘Brontosaurus’ anatomy theory was for its neck to be high-up almost like a Giraffe, and the tail at somewhat medium height up off the ground (to serve as rear balancing appendage to counter front long neck). You can see that original Bronto armature I made (above pic) which has been posted for years at the Stop Motion Works Gallery entrance page/link. It is a ‘beauty’ photo, making it look prettier than it actually was. So, I pulled out that old antique rusted armature and tried to clean it up as much as possible. For some reason I went on this tangent uncontrollable thing and re-worked  some of the armature components & tweaked the shapes/forms,  getting it close to the Paleontologist’s current ‘du jour’ dino concepts/theories. Here it is …. LIO Bronto 2011 version ….

For the technically minded: Above armature from head to tail  is about 27 inches length,  and 5-3/4 inches tall from the top of rear aluminum hip block. It’s actually not that big which I always preferred, small sized stop motion puppets … easier to animate (for me) & cost effective …. less studio space needed.

So it seems …. the Apatosaurus’s NECK is now, anatomically in Low position, almost like a frigg’n Wolf in stalking mode? I do not want to fry my brains and do an internet search about the current dino theories/concepts, but I’m guessing that Paleontologists reasoning is, that these long necked dinos also grazed Low Lying greenery bushes and not just the leaves up high? So the paleo experts ‘changed their minds’ (again) about the Apatosaurus, I mean Brontosaurus …. hey … you call it whatever you frigg’n want :x .

Upcoming later SMW News episode: … Lionel aka LIO prepares to Stop Motion test-animate his 1989 circa but  re-worked into a sleek 2011 Bronto Armature and elaborates on his animation preparation methods in attempting to achieve a  slow & ponderous Four legged walking/striding cycle to give illusion of massive size & weight  …. with bonus addition of  interjecting his occasional commentary rants. To be continued ….

References: Grainy small pic of Mother Dino armature Some old LIO Dino armatures made for clientsWhatever happened to Brontosaurus?

Topics: Dynamation, How-to, Stop Motion Armatures | 10 Comments »

10 Responses to “Dinos-schminos, Brontosaurus or Apatosaurus … WTF?”

  1. Paul Vortex says:

    A thing of beauty, LIO!

  2. filmfan says:

    Lio, I have always liked that bronto armature of yours. By the way, Gregory S. Paul stated in a recent interview published in Prehistoric Times, the name Brontosaurus might actually be the right and proper name for that beastie. He says this is due to the fact that the bones from which Apatosaurus was named might actually be those from more than one species and the resulting holotype would really be a chimera. The reason that the name Brontosaurus got dropped in the first place was because the remains of it were found and described after the supposed Apatosaurus had been described and named, and it was thought that the Apatosaurus was the same creature as Brontosaurus. The name Apatosaurus means “deceptive lizard”, and if Gregory Paul is right, the name is appropriate because it fooled a lot of people.

  3. U_Ani says:

    The subject of dinosaurs is not just about fanboy obsession but as much biology as anything you’d study in modern wild. What makes these extinct animals so great is their mysteriousness. Who wouldn’t be at least mildly impressed by the sheer size of a sauropod like Apatosaurus/Brontosaurus.

    There’s in fact two types of dinosaur within human perception, the real extinct animals which only remain as fossilized bones and impressions in rock and what I like to call “Bogusaurs” which means all artistic renditions based on said remains, monstrous or not. What makes “Bogusaurs” really entertaining is that you can freely exaggerate their physical appearence for the wanted effect. There is a responsibility though. As there are countless different renditions in entertainment and media very little of it can be truly associated with the creatures that really once existed as reality has restrictions that our kind really doesn’t understand too well for we constantly change our interpretations. So you can’t truly associate a “bogusaur” with a real dinosaur. Dinosaurs were just animals like today’s elephants and lions instead of invincible god-like entities, simply put. The difference is that they were bigger animals. Thus they should be treated equally with the rest of the animal kingdom.

    It still doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun making your very own Bogusaurus hollywooderensis. ;)

  4. Dave Hettmer says:

    Notes from one o’ them dinosaur geeks: the big deal is that they put the wrong skull on an apatosaurus skeleton and called it a brontosaurus. It’s a small technicality, and means that unless you’re doing serious comparative sauropods there are only 3 body types that people can differentiate: diplodocus, brachiosaurus, and the apatosaurus like beasties. Your revamped armature is delightful!

  5. L.I.O says:

    I was really off on the Bronto armature anatomy when originally made, all those years ago. The average person would not notice the errors. Even though I already tweaked it, I got urge to do a bit more …. slightly shifting joint positions, shaving/filing the body blocks, here & there, HOWEVER I do not want to spend more time on armature tweaking, as I am salivating :P to get the hands-on animation ‘motivation flame under my butt’ going, after being dormant for sooooo long :(

    Disclaimer: I merely hyped-up SMW News topic/title to grab attention which is part of blogging biz :) Not putting down or dissing paleontologists or the Dinosaur biz but just playing with them. They got their passions and we got ours …. Stop Motion :mrgreen:

  6. Rotter says:

    A sexy looking upgrade to your armature- if you can call an armature sexy.

  7. StopmoNick says:

    Ah – I remember the days of peering at small photos in magazines with a magnifying glass, trying to glean a few vital clues…
    Nice looking armature, then and now – looking very sculpted and polished, like it would be a crime to hide it under latex!
    Woo Hoo –
    I can’t wait to see you tackle a bit of animation again!

  8. Langley West says:


  9. Ron Cole says:

    Fantastic Work! I look forward to the animation tests, will it be eating nuts and bolts? :)

  10. Lio, Absolutely stunning work. It’s interesting how we similarly figured this stuff out years ago by studying photos we found in magazines and self-teaching ourselves just enough machine skills to make it work. I did a Barosaurus armature for Hall Train Studio about fifteen years ago. It was huge as I recall. I’ll look to see if I have any pictures of it. These creatures often look better as armatures than finished puppets! Truly magnificent art without any foam or silicone. Beautiful work, my friend!


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