Pseudoscientific illustration, smacking cameras and flying gnomes: New on Symbiartic

There's been a bunch of new posts on Symbiartic since Kalliopi Monoyios and I debuted our art+science blog on the new Scientific American blog network. Here's a rundown, plus a bonus gnome at the end. 

Visual Beings: Meet Symbiartic by Kalliopi Monoyios - say hello to us both!  Introduce yourself!

Science-art: Don't call it "Art"
by Glendon Mellow - Where I lay in some ground rules about the silly generalization of the word "art". Now with fully repaired interactive image, touring some of the hotspots of science-based and science-inspired art.  Oh, also it totally links to some of those crazy fractal people. Seriously, fractal artists are whack.  
(And see if you can find the Autobot.)

5 Reasons Your Camera Won't Steal My Job by Kalliopi Monoyios. Kalliopi lays a smackdown on photography and states why illustration is supreme. My favourite reason?  Dinosaurs. 

The Dudley Bug
by Glendon Mellow. How long did you think it would take before trilobites crawled onto Symbiartic?  :-)  An unusual coat-of-arms.

Magic Beans
by Glendon Mellow. How does a scientific illustrator reconcile themselves with doing pseudoscience?  Is it just for the money?  What about fiction?  Does it hurt their work?  I explore all this and more, and included a new illustration in the style of 19th Century naturalists depicting the traits of magic beans. 

A Naturalist's Study of Magic Beans by Glendon Mellow. Under Creative Commons Licence;
feel free to share and remember to attribute; no derivative; no commercial. Done using ArtRage Studio Pro.

I'm really hoping more Flying Trilobite fans will head over to Symbiartic and comment!  I love the reception we've been getting about Symbiartic on my Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and here at the blog.  Please take a moment to let us know how we're doing on the new network as well.

And because I know you will comment because you're all rad and stuff, I'm prepared to give you this short film of the magic bean pollinating-gnome being created as a bonus.

And you can follow Symbiartic on Twitter!

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.Portfolio


Three Rivers Rock & Fossil Museum

Back From the Badlands

While staying at a gorgeous cabin with an amazing view near Pincher Creek, Alberta, this Ontario-born blogger got to see a local treat. Spying an ad in a five year old tourist-attraction booklet, we called ahead to see if the Three Rivers Rock & Fossil Museum was still open for business. It boasted Canada's largest collection of cephalopods. I just had to go.

On the way there, we speculated what it would be like. It sounded like a small collection, and I wondered if it would be in someone's living room. I was wrong. At the time we arrived we were the only visitors. And we stumbled into an insidious Garden Gnome Invasion. They were everywhere! My heart raced at the thought of seeing fossilized remains of early gnominids. Painting ideas were coming to mind.

The gentlemen and collector greeted us out in the winding, tree-lined front yard, obviously in league with the garden gnomes all around. Being from Toronto, it's easy to forget how large these rural Alberta properties are. We did not head for his living room; we headed to a building behind the house. The gnomes followed, I'm sure of it. Waiting to pounce.

The treaty the owner had with the gnomes was still holding. They did not enter.

Once inside, it was clear the declaration of "largest cephalopod collection in Canada" was no idle boast. There were tons of them! Check out the ammolite specimen above. Ammolite is the semi-precious "stone" interior of ancient ammonites, like mother-of-pearl, but sometimes with startling red tones shot throughout. The owner gave us a bit of information, then sat down at a desk and let us look. Each glass case held a myriad of early life forms or minerals, all hand labelled with a description and location.

At left is a pretty geode, larger than your fist. Looks like marshmallow, doesn't it?

Mmmmm....tasty geode....

I love minerals like this. The little 'hairs' on the puffball-looking formation are so tiny, it challenges the eye to pick them out.

There were shark's teeth, plant fossils, fish fossils, and enough coprolite to keep my five year old nephew entertained (at least after we told him it's dinosaur poop).

The collection is well worth the drive out of the way for any fossil enthusiast or person looking for a spot to take the family. It is a private collection however, and I would strongly recommend asking permission before taking photos, as I have done. It's polite. Rural Alberta has a bit of a reputation for being conservative, at least with Ontarians, and it was nice to see an entire museum devoted to fossils instead of fundamentalism.

Of course there are abundant trilobite fossils, even if they were outnumbered by the ancient predatory cephalopods. Here is Mr. Jumbo, a whopper of a fossil about 60 cm long. This beautiful trilobite is easily more than a match for the gnomes outside, and no wonder they did not enter the building. Is that some sort of iron-rich mineral giving it a rusty appearance? I wonder. A little sea scorpion and ammonite sit submissively beneath the pygidium of this prehistoric royalty.

There are a few tiny fossils and mineral jewellry for purchase, nothing as grand as what's in the collection. I bought a nice little brachiopod, and left the Three Rivers Rock & Fossil Museum with my appetite for prehistoric wonder whetted for more.

We left the militant gnomes behind.