Monday, April 5, 2010

Ichthyosaurs in Art

Reconstructions of ichthyosaurs are some of the earliest examples of palaeo-art in history.  Discovered in 1811 by Mary Anning and mulled over by scientists for the next 10 years, these fascinating fossils were named Ichthyosaurus in 1821, before "palaeontology" as a science even existed!

This long history of ichthyosaurs has allowed for a wonderful array of restorations.  ART Evolved's look at Ichthyosaurs in Art begins with important and wonderful historical interpretations of these sea monsters, and then follows with more modern views of what Ichthyosaurs look like!

Enjoy Ichthyosaurs in Art!

Book of the Great Sea-Dragons, Ichthyosauri and Plesiosauri. Gedolim Taninim, of Moses. Extinct Monsters of the Ancient Earth from 1840 by John Martin

Duria Antiquior by Henry De la Beche

A great supporter of the work and importance of Mary Anning, of Lyme Regis, De la Beche drew a sketch, in 1830, entitled "Duria Antiquior - A More Ancient Dorset", which showed Mary Anning's finds: (three types of Ichthyosaur, a Plesiosaur and Dimorphodon. It even appears to show the production of coproliths, from a terrified plesiosaur. De la Beche assisted Anning, who was having financial difficulties, by having a lithographic print made from his water color painting, and donating the proceeds from the sale of the prints to her. This became the first such scene from deep time to be widely circulated. [Wikipedia]

"Awful Changes. Man Found only in a Fossil State - Reappearance of Ichthyosauri." 

Paleontology in a future age as imagined by Henry De la Beche in 1830. The famous cartoon lampoons Lyell's non-progressionist view of geological history. Standing above a human skull (below the rock supporting the lectern), Professor Ichthyosaurus addresses a toothy audience of friends and relations. The caption is as follows: "A lecture, — 'You will at once perceive,' continued Professor Ichthyosaurus, 'that the skull before us belonged to some of the lower order of animals; the teeth are very insignificant, the power of the jaws trifling, and altogether it seems wonderful how the creature could have procured food.'" [Wikipedia]

Ichthyosaurs in Crystal Palace Park, London, 1852
by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (photo by Peter Bond)

Ichthyosaurus, 1902? by F. John

Ichthyosaurus quadriscissus  by Charles R. Knight under the direction of Prof. H. F. Osborn. 
(American Museum of Natural History, N.Y)

 Ichthyosaurus by Zdenek Burian

The following are modern interpretations of the genera within the order Ichthyosauria, roughly ordered in chronological order (early Triassic to late Jurassic):

Cymbospondylus by Nobu Tamura

Cymbospondylus by Doug Henderson

 Mixosaurus by critter.pixel-shack

Californosaurus by Nobu Tamura

Shonisaurus by Mineo Shiraishi

Shonisaurus by Doug Henderson

Shonisaurus accompanied by a Pack of Californosaurus by Todd Marshall

Shonisaurus by Maximo Salas

Eurhinosaurus by Nobu Tamura

Temnodontosaurus by Karen Carr

 Stenopterygius by Doug Henderson

Stenopterygius by Raul Martin

 Ichthyosaurus by John Sibbick

 Ichthyosaurus by John Sibbick

 Ichthyosaurs by Surface Vision

I hope this look at Ichthyosaurs in Art has inspired you in your creation of ichthyosaur palaeo-art!  

The Ichthyosaur Time Capsule opens May 1st 2010, so send in your Ichthyosaur art to!


Brian Blacknick said...

They are all good but my favorite is the first drawing. The way the creatures are rendered and the light playing across the surface of the water is cool.

Neil said...

Great lineup.

Just a few notes:

That first painting (a classic, one of my all time favorites) is actually by John Martin, Thomas Hawkins was the author of the book but not the artist.

Also, it's worth mentioning that the exaggeratedly deep pot-bellied appearance often seen in restorations of Shonisaurus is based on a reconstruction by Camp now considered to be inaccurate (and has been for over two decades). Camp mistakenly reduced the number of pre-sacral vertebrae by about 20 (~45 rather than ~65) giving it that unusual shape. The ribs were probably also more posteriorly inclined than they appear in most skeletal reconstructions (which are invariably based on Camp's).

Stop repeating the mistake. It was a big animal, but not especially deep-bodied.

Finally I would like to plug Ken Kirkland whose art is not widely available on the internet but appears in the books Dinosaurs and other Mesozoic Reptiles of California by Richard Hilton and Neptune's Ark by David Rains Wallace. He paints great ichthyosaurs, .... although his Shonisaurus is probably a little too fat.

Peter Bond said...

Thanks for that note about John Martin, Neil. Like Brian, I also really like his work. I remember seeing his "The Great Day of his Wrath" at the Tate Britian a few years back. I've updated the credit.

Interesting about the Shonisaurus. Artists, take note!

Dinorider d'Andoandor said...

awesome gallery for sure

Christopher said...

The paintings you have listed as painted by Ely Kish and Mark Hallett are both by Douglas Henderson

Peter Bond said...

Thank you, Christopher. I've fixed the link. Cheers!