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.
Franz Unger and plant evolution: Representations of plants through time
Published:February 24, 2022
Larry B. Collins, 2022. "Franz Unger and plant evolution: Representations of plants through time", The Evolution of Paleontological Art, Renee M. Clary, Gary D. Rosenberg, Dallas C. Evans
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This chapter will highlight a series of lithographs produced by Franz Unger and Josef Kuwasseg that emphasize how Unger used plants to represent different periods of earth history. While Henry De la Beche is credited with the first depiction of ancient life through art (Duria antiquior), Unger’s work was the first to illustrate how plants could be used as indicators of changes in life history. In collaboration with artist Josef Kuwasseg, he embarked on a project entitled The Primitive World in Its Different Periods of Formation that consisted of 14 lithographs that were published in 1851. The title was unique in that it combined the concepts of a “primitive world,” or the widely accepted contemporary idea of undifferentiated deep time, with our modern concept of different periods of earth history. Unger selected periods for this project based upon major strata, but his botanical roots led him to emphasize the importance of plants in each lithograph. The series begins with the “Transition Period,” or the strata that contain the most fossil evidence to develop a reconstruction, and ends with a depiction of the arrival of man in a plant-filled world. This series of lithographs offers a unique contribution to the history and philosophy of geology as Unger recognized the importance of plants to our understanding of geology and deep time in the nineteenth century.