I thought it would be useful to share some recommendations for other places to consume paleontology media, news, art, etc. Here are a few of my favorites–definitely not a comprehensive list!
Videos, Documentaries, and Podcasts
The Common Descent Podcast
Creators: Will Harris and David Moscato, paleontologists and science communicators from Tennessee
Audience: paleo fans, novice to fanatic
I’m not generally a big podcast person because of the large proportion of podcasts that are just two guys chatting aimlessly for an hour or so. But this paleontology podcast is extremely focused and organized, while also being funny and entertaining. They have a great format: first they share four paleontology news pieces in the first half hour, distilling the important parts and putting them in context with other research or implications. This makes the content way more memorable and easily understandable than reading the journal paper itself, but has more depth than you’d get from reading a sci-news article. Then, they take an hour to discuss the main episode topic–one host presents, following a well-thought-out outline, but leaves room for the other host, who is listening, to interject with questions, clarifications, or jokes. They also do special series in which they talk about movies, interview scientists, or design creatures, which are also great. You can find them on Podbean, the Podcasts app, Patreon, and their blog.
Type: Youtube channel
Creators: PBS Digital Studios, hosted by Hank Green, Kallie Moore, and Blake de Pastino
This channel is super accessible, well-written, and well-produced. Each episode, one of the hosts presents an overview of a paleontological topic, from specific animal groups or adaptations, to climatic or geologic changes, to sweeping sagas of the entire history of the world. I really like how it starts with the very basics but ends up going pretty deeply into each topic; it also devotes some time to how we know what we know based on specific fossils. You can find their channel here and their Patreon here.
Type: Youtube channel
Audience: gamers who are interested in biology and paleontology
This channel is basically the Youtube version of r/outside: people talking about real life as if it’s a video game. In TierZoo’s videos, they rank various animal “builds” into viability tiers, talk about special abilities and unique strategies, and discuss how “balance patches” (extinction events) have affected the “meta” throughout history. It’s great content, and a lot of the video footage is documentary quality (with health bars, sound effects, and in-game chat added, of course). Find the channel here.
Trey the Explainer
Type: Youtube channel
Creator: Trey the Explainer
Audience: paleo beginners, Game of Thrones fans
This channel’s “Paleo Profile” series was one of the first things I encountered that got me interested in reading up about specific groups of extinct animals, like abelisaurs, placoderms, and temnospondyls. In those, Trey gives a comprehensive overview of a single interesting genus in a very accessible way. Nowadays, his channel focuses more on human evolution. He also does analyses on the biology of various pop-culture franchises, such as Game of Thrones, Avatar, and The Good Dinosaur. Find his channel here.
Creator: Salvatore Vecchio and CuriosityStream
Audience: everyone, dinosaur fans
This documentary requires a subscription to CuriosityStream, but you can get a 30-day trial through certain creators like TierZoo. It’s basically Walking With Dinosaurs modernized, with fluffy dinosaurs, newly discovered genera included, and lots of exciting action scenes and adorable baby dinosaurs. The production quality is quite high. There are only two episodes right now, but I’m hoping there will be more soon! Find it here.
Your Inner Fish
Creator: Neil Shubin and PBS
This documentary is by the paleontologist who discovered the famous transitional tetrapod fossil, Tiktaalik! It covers the entire history of human evolution in three acts: the fish-tetrapod transition, Permian synapsids, and primate evolution, with a focus on comparative anatomy. Dr. Shubin is in charge of a cadaver lab though, so some of the human dissection shown is not for the faint of heart.
Walking With Dinosaurs
Creator: Tim Haines and the BBC
Audience: everyone, ’90s kids
This groundbreaking documentary series was the first to really treat dinosaurs and other extinct creatures as real animals, using CGI to tell stories of individual dinosaurs going about their daily lives. The informational content has aged very gracefully, and the production quality is high (although the resolution is very low, since it’s from the 90s). One minor caveat is that the format makes it hard to tell which pieces of information are speculative and which are definite, so follow-up research or watching it with an expert can be helpful.
Type: art book
Creators: John Conway, Darren Naish, and CM Kosemen, renowned paleoartists
Audience: everyone, but especially aspiring paleoartists
This is the paleoart counterculture manifesto, a book that protests the use of paleoart stereotypes in favor of creative, speculative, but still scientific, interpretations of extinct creatures. Along with now-famous depictions of Parasaurolophus as an absolute unit, Protoceratops hanging out in trees, and Stegosaurus’s impressive member, they also include hilarious artwork of modern creatures drawn using bad paleoart stereotypes, such as shrink-wrapped, venomous baboons, horizontal-necked rabbits, and terrestrial manatees. This book has also spawned a whole paleoart movement, so I think it’s worth checking out the source. There’s also a follow-up book called All Your Yesterdays, which is free to read online, that contains a selection of high quality, speculative paleoart by independent artists inspired by the original.
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World
Creator: Steve Brusatte, renowned American paleontologist and tyrannosaur expert
Audience: everyone–use this to get your dinosaur-clueless friends to have some idea of what you’re rambling about!
This book takes the reader on a tour through the Mesozoic, looking at the Age of Reptiles in detail while also presenting the author’s own experience as a paleontologist. It’s very recent, and thus serves as a good primer on the modern theories about dinosaurs. It’s also a very compelling narrative, and the author is a world-renowned expert on tyrannosaurs, so his insights into what made that specific group so successful are presented here.
The Dinosaurs Rediscovered: How a Scientific Revolution is Rewriting History
Creator: Michael J. Benton
Audience: paleo fans looking to start learning about modern scientific methods
This book focuses more on recent discoveries and methods that have cast old assumptions and depictions of dinosaurs in a new light. Its scope includes new ways of dating and analyzing dinosaur body fossils; new strategies for reconstructing how dinosaurs behaved, breathed, and moved; and beautiful sketches and descriptions of individual dinosaur genera that sometimes take up an entire two-page spread.
The Palaeoartist’s Handbook
Type: art book
Creator: Mark Witton, renowned British paleontologist and paleoartist
Audience: aspiring paleoartists
This book, while pretty dang dense, does a good job of explaining how to create accurate life reconstructions from first principles–how we know what we know. It explains what types of osteological correlates correspond to what types of overlying tissues, how to interpret trackways, and how not to fall prey to paleoart “memes,” among other things. It also contains some really beautiful and inspiring original artwork.
Dinosaurs: How They Lived And Evolved
Creator: Darren Naish and Paul Barrett, renowned paleontologists
Audience: Dinosaurs 101 students
A very high-level fly-by of dinosaur groups, dinosaur paleontology, and dinosaur evolution, intended as a modern primer for college students. Well-written and easy to understand, with beautiful illustrations, it’s enjoyable to read straight through even though it’s a textbook.
Blogs and other Internet content
Mark Witton’s Blog
Creator: also Mark Witton
Audience: paleo fanatics and paleoartists researching a specific animal
This blog is a sort of extension of Mark Witton’s book, or his book is a distillation of his blog. If you liked the book and want more super-detailed analysis on various extinct animals’ anatomy and lifestyles, give this a try. It’s especially useful if you’re a paleoartist looking for direction or inspiration for a specific creature–just google “Mark Witton Tanystropheus” and two novella-length posts containing diagrams and original research will float your way.
Humming Dinosaur: Maija Karala’s Blog
Creator: Maija Karala, renowned paleoartist from Finland
Audience: anyone interested in biology, botany, paleontology, and paleoart, but especially paleoartists
This blog covers a wide variety of topics, and I’ve found it especially useful for paleoart inspiration. Paleobotany is especially a topic of weakness for me and many paleoartists, even though it comprises the stage on which our beloved, charismatic vertebrates do their thing. This blog saw that need and filled it.
Nix Draws Stuff: Ceri Thomas’s Blog
Creator: Ceri Thomas, the paleoartist who does a lot of work for PBS Eons
This paleoart blog is super active, and not only is the art great, but what Nix has to say about each piece is really interesting and inspires me to draw more!
Creators: see below
Audience: anyone who enjoys paleoart
My personal favorites: CoffeeBlack, Daitengu, Derpyduckart, Dinomaniac, Dinostavros, Dustdevil, Guindagear, Kuzim, Lucas Atwell, Lythroversor, Olorotitan, Promilie, Pterosaur Freak, Qilong, Stygimoloch spinifer, Thek560, The Meep Lord, Xiphactinus
There is so much amazing free paleoart out there, and you can learn a lot about what an artist considers when making paleoart decisions by reading the descriptions on Deviantart. You can also comment, ask questions, and interact directly with them if you’re gutsy!