Dan Varner, artist of things paleontological, has passed away, survived by his wife. I am immensely affected by this loss because Dan was one of those very open, cheery sorts who gave earnest advice and did great art. I met him in person in 1999 at the SVP in Denver, where he, to my utter shock and amazement, said he liked my art and pointed out a piece he specifically enjoyed to prove it. Artists sometimes want a measure of themselves from others, to know that there is an impact where their art is concerned. Dan affirmed this for me, I think, more than anyone ever had, because up until then, he was a name who made money from his art and was known and liked. That means something to me still.
The title banner for this website is crafted from the skull of Globidens dakotaensis, a taxon not much unlike the one Mike Everhart talks about here. Dan’s illustration graces the top of that post, and I still cannot think of Globidens without thinking of that image. The impact was enough that I am drawn back to the page whenever I contemplate this unusual mosasaur, which Dan got to illustrate for his friend, and so for now, it will always be my mental memorial to what Dan said to me back then.
[I’m sorry if the writing on this post is much more jumbled than mine usually is. It’s hard to just think about this without some measure of emotionality slipping through.]