Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Blog Tour & Guest Post: The Early Cretaceous Comes Alive (Juan Carlos Alonso)

dinosaurs come alive

Ancient Earth Journal: The Early Cretaceous: Notes, drawings, and observations from prehistory
The Early Cretaceous brings readers closer to prehistoric life than ever before.
What it would be like to see a living, breathing dinosaur? The Early Cretaceous brings readers closer to prehistoric life than ever before. By combining the latest paleontological findings with highly detailed, intimate drawings of wildlife from the Early Cretaceous, readers will look into the eyes of some of the most fascinating creatures to ever inhabit the earth. Written and illustrated in the style of a naturalist's notebook, the viewer will be given a first-hand account of what it is like to stand alongside everything from the first birds to flying dinosaurs to some of the largest creatures ever to walk the earth. Through detailed illustrations and descriptive narrative, readers will discover how some dinosaurs survived polar blizzards, while others were able to pump blood five stories high to reach their brains. While many books on prehistoric life lump dinosaurs into the general timeline of the Mesozoic Period, no book currently dissects plant and animal life during one specific period. This allows the book to explore wildlife seldom featured in publications, many of them recent discoveries. The Early Cretaceous is backed by the research of one of paleontology's most acclaimed theorists, giving the book the most up to date scientific interpretation regarding animal behaviors, interactions, and recreations.

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Juan Carlos Alonso is a Cuban American graphic designer, creative director, and illustrator. He has over 30 years experience in the graphic design/illustration field. In 1992, he founded Alonso & Company, a creative boutique specializing in branding, design, and advertising. He has been working with clients of all sizes from Fortune 500 to local businesses and has forged strong relationships with companies including the NBA franchise The Miami Heat, Bacardi Rum, Ryder System, Pitney Bowes, and Capitol Records. Alonso & Company has attained international acclaim for work in advertising and graphic design. His passion for nature has taken him around the world from Australia to the Galapagos Islands to study animals. Along with his work in the graphic arts, he is also an accomplished wildlife sculptor focusing mostly on prehistoric animals.

Dinosaurs and prehistoric life in general have always fascinated me. When I was a child, dinosaurs served as a gateway to the imagination. They were real, yet they seemed impossibly unreal. At the time, the scientific consensus was that they were slow moving, swamp dwelling, dumb creatures. They were viewed as nature’s mistake. So much so, that some were considered structurally unsound to carry their own weight, confining them to a life in the water where their weight couldn’t crush them. To me they all seemed unnatural, odd and at the same time wonderfully amazing. How could these creatures have existed? What were they really like? As the years went by and scientists unveiled their findings one at a time, dinosaurs began to take shape as animals, not the monsters I knew as a kid and yet the awe of dinosaurs never really subsided.

About 5 years ago, when my daughter was 2, I began to experience a child’s wonder and natural curiosity through her eyes. It was so pure. I have always felt that all children are all born artists. They express themselves through drawings and painting, they dance when the music moves them, all of this is natural, unlearned behavior. It moved me to want to createthe book I would have loved as a child. The type of book that inspired me in my youth to draw and wonder, this was the genesis of the Ancient Earth Journal. The idea was to create drawings that felt as though they were created from a first-hand point of view. A counter to today’s digital, photo-real illustrations, I wanted it to feel hand drawn and organic.

In my childhood I believed that all these prehistoric animals lived together at the same time: Brontosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Stegosaurus and even Dimetrodon running around hunting and fighting each other. After all, they were ancient extinct animals, right? This idea was fed to me in books, movies and in toys. I distinctly remember getting a plastic model of an Allosaurus with the artwork on the box illustrating the dinosaur fighting a saber-toothed cat. All this is far from the truth. For instance, ole T. rex lived about 83 million years removed from Brontosaurus, whereas we live 65 million years from the last T. rex. There was a greater time span between different dinosaur species, than there is between the dinosaurs and humans. For being considered “nature’s mistakes,” the reign of dinosaurs lasted for a total of 165 million years. Modern humans (Homo sapiens) on the other hand, have only been around for about 200 thousand years. There is so much to learn about prehistoric animals and the history of the earth. I’m hoping this book, and possibly future books in a series will shed some light on prehistoric animals from the perspective of time and evolution, as well as inspire children to wonder, imagine and remain artists.

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