Calligrams: Anatomy in Hand-Lettering

Calligram of the Anatomy of a Tyrannosaur Skull. You can read about it in your local library. Or here, from whence this article was made.

Arguably, the two most prominent bones in the head of a Tyrannosaur are the dentary in the mandible and the jugal, just beneath the orbit where the eye resides. Sure, a case can be made for the nasal or the maxilla (from which, with the premaxilla, the top teeth erupt), but look at this image I made which proves that completely wrong.

No, in the tyrant “lizard,” the jugal and the dentary are King. And if you could separate them and weigh them, the dentary would likely be even kingier, out-kinging even the mighty jugal.

But is that likely to be the case with all tyrannosaurids? All dinosaurs? All skulls? Let’s find out.

Calligram of the Anatomy of a Triceratops Skull. Stolen with permission by the artist from here.

Well, now. This is very different. Notice, however, how most of the usual suspects make an appearance, but I think it’s less clear which bone is the dominant in terms of size. At least, from the bones we’ve discussed. Look at that parietal. That’s most of the frill. It even gets its own entourage with smaller epiparietals. The jugal is no longer a contender. Which weighs more? I can’t guess.

But that postorbital horn also does an awful lot of work. Can you imagine tyrant lizard kings being jabbed with that? Or other Triceratops? Taking point is the epinasal, the third horn in in the tricerat-face.

Triceratops also had a beak. A big, scary one. Ideal for slicing and pulling vegetation, but biting sarcasm and wit were likely among its other uses. Biologists call that exaptation. It fit neatly over the lower part of the rostral and the end of the predentary, bones Tyrannosaurus doesn’t even have because it is lame in comparison.

Oh didn’t I mention? I’m a ceratopsian partisan. Always have been, since the time I painted a terrible picture—which I still have—in watercolor of a Triceratops facing an off-page foe in front of a volcano. There may have been cycads as well. I forget.

So I hand lettered these heads to show why ceratopsians are neat. You can too, if you enjoy doing so, or if you want to dispute my position—we’ll argue together in calligraphy.

Or you can buy mine. I sell inhuman heads.