Blue and Yellow T. rex – the Explanation

Yesterday we posted up a review of one of our new books, “Tyrannosaurus rex – King of the Dinosaurs”.  This hardback, pop-up book on T. rex had been well received by our young testers and their Mums and Dads.  The illustrations were particularly well liked and it was thought that they really provided a modern depiction of this fearsome dinosaur.

The artist responsible is John Sibbick.  John specialises in producing beautifully detailed illustrations of wildlife, mythology and fantasy artwork but perhaps he is most famous for his marvellous drawings of prehistoric animals and the evolution of mankind.  Many of the books which adorn our offices at Everything Dinosaur contain John Sibbick illustrations.  He has a rare and unique talent for combining anatomical accuracy with a real sense of imagery, capturing a snap shot of pre-history.

John studies the actual fossils and the diagrams produced by scientists before he starts to paint.  He works closely with palaeontologists so that he can interpret the very latest scientific thinking in his pictures.

Here is a link to John’s website where you can see some of his wonderful work:

Whilst the Tyrannosaurus rex book was on test with our young readers we were asked on numerous occasions why John had decided to paint his Tyrannosaurus rex with blue and yellow markings – we put this question to John and here is his reply:

“I was asked to use bright colours by the publishers – avoiding greens, browns and greys and generally dull tones.  Because these colours would have to be consistent throughout the book and I knew that the cut away spread showing the layers of anatomical detail would have areas of reds and warm colours for the organs and muscles I needed the skin to contrast with that.

I know that some reptiles are blue – turtles, caimans and some iguanas so I chose to go with blue and yellow for the added drama and contrast.  Jack Horner (eminent American palaeontologist), is a great advocate of bright colours to emphasize the dinosaur/bird connection and feels that dinosaurs could have been as colourful as modern birds especially during display periods and, therefore, there should no limit to colour!”

John Sibbick’s T. rex (pop-up model from the book)

T. rex colourfully depicted

John is certainly right about the latest consensus on dinosaur colouration .  I remember viewing the cast of a T. rex braincase (STAN-BHI3033), and looking at the hole where the optic nerve exited – it was huge, big enough to get two of my fingers inside.  This, and the fact that both birds and crocodiles have colour vision has led palaeontologists to suspect that dinosaurs had excellent colour vision.
So why not a yellow and blue Tyrannosaurus rex!