Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Evolution of PaleoArt Part II: Megalosaurus

Hey Fossil Fans,

I did a post a while ago about how PaleoArt has evolved over time, as our understanding of ancient creatures has improved. I used a great example, Iguanodon to illustrate this point. This post will explore the Megalosaurus in the same way.


Conveniently, a statue of Megalosaurus was created at the same time, and for the same purpose, as the Iguanodon statue I started with last time. Notice the four-legged gait. We will see just how wrong this is in a bit.


Getting a little warmer in this lithograph, circa 1905. Here there seems to be at least an attempt at getting the anatomical aspect of the creature right. Not great, but at least it's not an iguana with a different head.


Well, I couldn't find any other "transitional" reconstructions of Megalosaurus, so here we've moved up to the most modern form, circa 2002. I don't think I have to say much about how wrong the early depictions were!

But there are reasons why early depictions were so strange. Firstly, and especially in the case of Megalosaurus, only fragments of the skeleton were found. Benjamin W. Hawkins was going off almost nothing in his sculpture. In fact, not enough full skeletons had been found to give any real idea of what the dinosaur body looked like. Therefore, Hawkins made the assumption that that they were simply glorified lizards.

It's hard to imagine a time when so little was known, but in the early days, paleoartists were literally flying blind.

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