Lost Dinosaur Timeline

Amdall Dino HEADER2

When I was little, I absolutely loved dinosaurs. I know most kids do, but I was sort of obsessed with them. I was all about any book or toy I could get my hands on that featured dinosaurs. During our early elementary grades, my sister and I were in a Montessori school. If you aren’t familiar, the Montessori model basically let’s students learn in an open classroom, working on projects and assignments on their own or in small groups.

Around 1st or 2nd grade, I started drawing dinosaurs. My memory is a little cloudy going back that far, but I think I got it in my head to draw every species in a book. Then, I decided to draw every species in all the books in our classroom. I taped the pages together, and eventually I had to start rolling it up. I called it my “dinosaur timeline,” even though it wasn’t actually in any chronological order…I basically drew them in the order I found each species. The early ones were common fellows like Tyrannosaurus Rex and Pterodactyl, but later things got much more obscure.

Later on, I branched out to every dinosaur book I could find. Library books, books I had at home, anything that had a new type of dinosaur. I am not sure how many I drew, but it must have been hundreds because the roll was four or five inches in diameter. I typically included three or four dinosaurs per sheet of paper, and a sheet looked something like this mock-up I made today:


Today’s mock-up of a typical Dinosaur Timeline page. One page often consisted of three or four dinosaurs, with a sketch and name below each. 

You might be wondering, why share a mock-up of a Dinosaur Timeline page? Why not post something from the actual Timeline? Well, now we get to the first part of our title…Lost Dinosaur Timeline. About six months ago, while I was searching for old art supplies, I actually found the Dinosaur Timeline! It was wrapped in plastic and packed away in a box. Because it’s so long, I wasn’t able to unroll it in the house…so it sat on my desk for a couple months. At some point, I had the bright idea to put it away somewhere so it didn’t get messed up.

Flash forward to this week, and I had a random idea to check it out. I thought I might write a post about it, and take some photos of it. And now I have no idea where it is! Over the last couple days, I’ve turned our house upside down trying to find this thing. No luck at all. Apparently, where I stashed it was so incredibly safe, it’s even safe from me. It’s really a shame, because I’m worried I somehow accidentally threw it out.

My original idea was to discuss the Dinosaur Timeline, post some material from it, and include a new sketch of one of my favorites. Even though I can’t share the Timeline, I decided to carry on with a drawing (well, another one since I also did the above mock-up). My two childhood favorites were definitely the Triceratops and the Brontosaurus. Interestingly enough, some scientists do not believe either dinosaur is actually its own genus or species! Some say the Triceratops is a juvenile form of the Torosaurus, while the Brontosaurus could be the juvenile form of the Apatosaurus. Here’s a handy visual aid:

Is the smaller armament on Triceratops indicative of a juvenile? It could be sort of like deer/antelope horn growth. This is apparently a matter of debate though, because many scientists still think they are separate species/genus.

Based on my armchair paleontology internet research, it sounds like scientists are still arguing about the status and classification of both Triceratops and Brontosaurus. It’s really hard to know definitively about creatures that lived millions of years ago. Either way, they are awesome and I was a big fan as a kid. I decided to work on a more detailed Triceratops drawing. Here’s how it turned out:

Amdall Triceratops

I modeled this one after a couple of things. I leaned heavily on how rhinoceroses look, especially for the body and legs. Elephant tusks and rhino horns were good models for Triceratops‘ horns. I also referenced models and exhibits from Natural History Museums (Chicago, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong’s Museums). The skin was sort of difficult to figure out, because most representations show it as being tough and scaly. I didn’t quite capture that, but at least it doesn’t exactly look smooth. I really like how it turned out overall, and I had such a great nostalgia kick from going back to my childhood love of dinos.

I forgot to take many progression photos, mostly because I got carried away while drawing. It also wasn’t a tremendously complicated drawing, compared to sketching people. So, it didn’t really take as much time. Here’s a progression .gif though:

Amdall Triceratops progression

That’s all for my dinosaurs! If I ever find that Timeline, I’ll definitely share it…unfortunately that seems far from a sure thing.


  • Superb! Many hours were spent in my childhood with my younger brother and his plastic toy dinosaurs. To hide one from him if he was being horrible was a great game. The next time the box was opened I always got my revenge. I must have been a horror older sister!

    • Hey Claire, thank you! That’s pretty funny, my sister played a similar game with my GI Joe figures when we were kids. She even flushed one of my favorites down the toilet! My parents weren’t too happy about that particular strategy

  • Fantastic drawings Jon. It’s good to dig memories and redraw stuff that excited you as a kid. The amount of work you mentioned is quite impressive actually considering that requires loads of commitment from a kid!

    • Thanks Jasonas, you’re right about that! Little nostalgia trips can be pretty enjoyable.

      From what I remember, it was a pretty big project. I have to admit though, coming from a little kid, I’ll bet there were a ton of duplicates and errors. And I think I was little fantastical with how I depicted some of them; wild colors, exaggerated horns, etc. I really hope I can find it, so I can get a good look at it from a grown-up perspective.

  • Lol, “armchair paleontology internet research” So pro! πŸ˜€

    These look absolutely fantastic. Our son loves dinosaurs! (surprise) That pose of the stegosaur is great. I used to dream about dinos when I was a child. I once watched the news and saw some scientist trying to recreate dinosaurs, and I remember that moment. I felt as if the world was magical.

    Oh, that gif. I feel as if you skipped a few steps for me, I wanted to copy it and show our son. Either way, great results.

    • Ha ha, that’s a wise kid, liking dinosaurs! What’s his favorite one?

      I did skip some steps in that .gif, it’s true. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos during most of the drawing. And it was a relatively quick one, compared to people portraits, so it’s kind of sparse on the stages.

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