The Evolution of Paleontological Art
CONTAINS OPEN ACCESS
Fossils have stirred the imagination globally for thousands of years, starting well before they were recognized as the remains of once-living organisms and proxies of former worlds. This volume samples the history of art about fossils and the visual conceptualization of their significance starting with biblical and mythological depictions, extending to renditions of ancient life as it flourished in long-vanished habitats, and on to a modern understanding that fossil art conveys lessons for the betterment of the human condition. The 29 papers and accompanying artwork illustrate how art about fossils has come to be a significant teaching tool not only about evolution of past life, but also about conservation of our planet for the benefit of future generations.
Henry De la Beche’s pioneering paleoecological illustration, Duria antiquior
Published:February 24, 2022
Tom Sharpe*, Renee M. Clary*, 2022. "Henry De la Beche’s pioneering paleoecological illustration, Duria antiquior", The Evolution of Paleontological Art, Renee M. Clary, Gary D. Rosenberg, Dallas C. Evans
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In late 1829 or early 1830, Henry Thomas De la Beche (1796–1855), in collaboration with William Buckland (1784–1856), published Duria antiquior [A more ancient Dorsetshire], the earliest known paleoecological illustration of ancient life. De la Beche’s interpretation was based largely on fossils then recently uncovered from Lower Jurassic (Lias) rocks near Lyme Regis on the south coast of England. Many of these were brought to scientific attention by local fossil collector and dealer Mary Anning (1799–1847). De la Beche published Duria antiquior as a lithograph, copies of which were sold as a fundraiser for Anning, who was then in straitened circumstances. Duria antiquior represented a new style of paleontological illustration that pioneered a new scientific genre addressing the history of nature and an innovative viewpoint where the observer glimpses lifeforms through the water. Other authors modified and adopted De la Beche’s visionary illustration, and the style became commonplace in popular geological publications in the later nineteenth century. Duria antiquior can be acknowledged as the pioneering graphic from which fossil organisms’ reconstructions and modern computer-generated paleoecosystem animations trace their origins.