Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Brendan Schaffer: Snow Stegosaurus

Let me start out by saying that I hate the snow.  I hate it so much.  I used to like it when I was a little kid and it meant no school but now that I actually have to drive into work most of the time regardless and shovel the driveway, I have learned to despise the stuff.  Plus it's cold.  Seriously I hate this time of year.  Winter is funny.  Up until Christmas everyone loves the snow.  "Oooh Aaah!  Pretty winter wonderland!"  Then every time it snows after that it's more like "UGGGHHHHHH EVERYTHING IS WET AND GROSS WE WANT SPRING!"

Well the snow doesn't bother my friend, Brendan!  Brendan and I went to Rutgers together and took an ornithology class where we bonded over identifying birds.  He studied Ecology and Marine Science, but also paints, draws, and sculpts whenever he can, trying to capture how beautiful and colorful nature can be.  Only in the past year has he discovered that he can sculpt snow!  Whenever the forecast calls for even a light dusting, he can be found with his father and brothers out in their front yard creating the next "masterpiece".  From dragons to dinosaurs, Brendan sculpts whatever may be relevant (holidays and mascots included), sometimes what they think will look cool or funny off the top of their heads. They like to make their community happy with their snow sculptures and hope it brings joy to people during the dreary winter months.

So recently I got a message from Brendan asking for my help.  He had sculpted a life-sized snow Stegosaurus and wanted to know if there was anything he could do to make it as scientifically accurate as possible.  Needless to say, the piece was already awesome!

Now before any of you hardcore science fanboysandgirls start nitpicking every single freaking thing that could possibly be not 100% scientific for the sake of flexing your intellectual muscles and looking like a total ass pro on the internet keep in mind that snow is NOT an easy medium to work with!  If the sculpture sacrifices some anatomical accuracy for the sake of...I dunno, staying together as a sculpture then so be it.  There are some things that Brendan and I decided could be changed to make this guy even more realistic, however.

We started at the head and worked our way back.  I'd say change the shape of the head by making it more narrow and angular.  Stegosaurus had an almost wedge-shaped noggin.  Also let's add on a little throat pouch with gular armor!  The snow plates are delicate but we thought it would be good if they were made a little more broad on the bottom.  Lastly, the we decided to change the position of the spikes on the tail.  They can't be held out completely to the sides because they would fall off, however.  I suggesting using giant icicles for spikes but those are hard and dangerous to come by.  Oh well!

Check out the improved sculpture!  Brendan is standing next to it so you can see just how huge this thing really is.

It looks great!  Brendan even went so far as to paint it with water mixed with food coloring!

Now it just needs one more thing...ah!


Great job, Brendan!  Want to see more?  Check out and like his facebook page.  There are really awesome pieces on there. 

That's all for this time!  Just so everyone knows Gary and I will be flying to Arizona this weekend to present a research poster on possible new species of Shuvosaurus we helped to dig up last Summer.  That being said I may not be able to do a Prehistoric Animal of the Week on Sunday.  I'll try my best though! 

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