For Rodolfo Nogueira it was the climax of the recognition: “All researchers and paleontologists on the planet will know a Brazilian animal through my eyes. I’ve gone insane, a mixture of pride and disbelief. “
This is how the 34-year-old Brazilian paleoartist described his reaction when he learned that an illustration of himself, an Ixalerpeton polesinensis belonging to the camp camphorse, would appear on the cover of the scientific journal Nature, the most traditional in the world and one of the most respected.
The magazine published an article by an international team of scientists on the pterosaur family album.
New information suggests a close relationship between them and small four-legged friends who ate insects and lived in trees, including in Brazil.
Lagerpetid fossils appeared 237 million years ago, and their properties suggest that they would be the “sister group” of the toledopterosaurs. The work includes the scientist Martín Ezcurra from the Argentine Natural History Museum Bernardino Rivadavia and the Brazilians Max Langer from the USP in Ribeirão Preto and Sergio Cabreira from the Southern Brazilian Paleontology Association.
They invited Nogueira to produce the illustrations for the article.
“I had worked with the team many times, including them. [Na Nature] They said we could propose a cover option to them and who knows we would win. It happened, ”he said.
“It is a trophy to have your name printed on the cover of the largest scientific magazine in the world.”
The recognition isn’t new to the paleoartist’s career in Uberaba, a mining town where he started drawing at the age of 11. The dinosaur universe is also home to pterosaurs and crocodilomorphs.
For example, on the 21st, he delivered the second dinosaur sculpture (Maniraptora) of seven to be distributed in public areas of Uberaba by July. The works were installed on Manoel Terra Square in the city center.
Extinct millions of years ago, these animals are part of the daily life of Nogueira, which recreates and sculpts the species discovered in the country. “I always try to make people understand what this work is, I try to make it more palatable. Dinosaurs are in everyone’s mind. “
After graduating in industrial design from Unesp (Universidade Estadual Paulista) in Bauru, he began to like dinosaurs at the age of 11 and to illustrate with pencil and paper. Then he learned techniques like oil paint, ink, gouache and watercolor until he reached 3D.
He started making sculptures of dinosaurs, which he regards as three-dimensional illustrations. The winner of Jabuti 2018 in the category for children and young people with the book “O Brasil dos Dinossauros” with Luiz Eduardo Anelli has already won 12 awards abroad.
To achieve the level of specialization he had achieved, he studied anatomy. His work, he says, begins when he sees the fossil found and reads the scientific article describing the species. Then the size of the animal framework is calculated based on scientific reports and a 3D version is created.
The next steps include calculating the size and shape of the animal’s muscles, also in 3D, and defining the colors based on today’s animals.
With resin, paraffin, styrofoam, modeling clay and cement, dinosaurs appear, forming the tripod of the project to create a geopark in the city of Minas Gerais to stimulate local tourism.
The proposal, launched in 2017, includes palaeontology as well as religiosity – supported by the medium Chico Xavier (1910-2002) – and zebu cattle. Uberaba is headquartered in ABCZ (Brazilian Association of Zebu Breeders) and annually sponsors Expozebu, the country’s premier livestock event.
Four geosites have already been opened. One of them is that of Peirópolis, a district of Uberaba that houses dinosaur fossil deposits and a museum. “I couldn’t have been born in a better place,” says the paleo artist.
Luiz Carlos Borges Ribeiro, geologist at the Federal University of Triângulo Mineiro (UFTM) and one of the coordinators of the project, says that Nogueira is characterized by his competence and commitment: “He is the best paleo artist in Brazil. He has a great curriculum despite being young. Nature has just crowned this work. “
Despite the compliment, Nogueira doesn’t think it’s a gift.
“I studied alone on the internet and used it in the Unesp lab. I don’t believe in gifts at all. The gift is the will, ”he says.
“There has to be a topic that we really like and we have to choose and develop a skill in addition to wanting to do something for others. I want people to feel wonderful.”
After so many awards and the illustration of the cover of Nature, friends play with Nogueira that only Oscar is missing, the highest honor in US cinema.
“I am of course satisfied with the recognition. They say I have to be in Hollywood, but I like to think about the country, what we can do for our country, “he says.
“We are the ones who will drive a new era in Brazilian science and art. We have to build that.”