fossils

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Art History Photography Science

Cabinet of Curiosities: A New Book Opens Centuries-Old Collections of Fossils, Sculptures, and Other Oddities

June 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Taschen, shared with permission

In a span of more than 350 pages, Italian photographer Massimo Listri captures some of the most wondrous and bizarre collections gathered throughout history. Cabinet of Curiosities, a new XXL edition from Taschen, is comprised of countless artifacts from the Renaissance to modern-day. Including massive fossils, excavated coral growths, and impeccably preserved sculptures, Listri’s photographs capture treasures of natural history, art, astrology, biology, and design. Many of the eccentric collections were maintained formerly by aristocrats, such as Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici, Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, and Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg.

Dive into the historical troves by picking up a copy of Cabinet of Curiosities from Taschen or Bookshop. Check out Listri’s stunning compendium of global libraries, too.

 

 

 



History Science

A Hummingbird-Sized Skull Found Preserved in 99-Million-Year-Old Amber

March 12, 2020

Grace Ebert

Protected in a small piece of amber dating back 99 million years, an ancient skull is changing the timeline researchers have for when reptiles transitioned into the descendants of current-day birds. Found in Myanmar, the oculudentavis khaungraae had at least 23 sharp teeth on its upper jaw, which suggests that the creature ate insects, according to an article published in Nature this week. Its eye was canonical with small pupils and resembles those of a modern lizard, while the edge of the socket indicates that it was well-equipped to see in bright light. About the size of a hummingbird’s, the skull totals .6 inches, although this avian species is thought to be 70 million years older. After archaeopteryx, it’s the most ancient bird ever discovered. To prevent damage to the bone, researchers used X-rays to construct a 3D model that’s shown below. (via The History Blog)

Update: This article has been corrected to acknowledge an update from Nature that says the skull is no longer believed to be a dinosaur.

 

 

 



Animation Design

A 3D Artist Imagines the Realistic Fossilized Skulls of Endearing Cartoon Characters

March 4, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Canis Goofus – USA, 1932.” All images © Filip Hodas

A Prague-based artist is memorializing some of his favorite cartoons with a series of convincing fossils that provide an unconventional look at the skeletons of animated characters. Filip Hodas’s Cartoon Fossils series features preserved skulls of Spongebob, Tweety Bird, and other familiar characters, accompanied by the years they first were spotted on television and their zoological names like Anas Scroogius, Homo Popoculis, and Mus Minnius.

The artist’s surreal compositions mimic the fossils and assemblages displayed in history museums, although Hodas said in a statement he wanted to add to their playfulness with bright, solid backgrounds. He also embellishes his characters with hats, glasses, and even stacks of coins to amplify their fictional roles.

Initially, I wanted to make them stylized as dinosaur fossils set up in a museum environment, but later decided against it, as the skulls didn’t look very recognizable on their own—especially with parts broken or missing. That’s why I opted for (a) less damaged look and also added some assets to each of the characters.

To create each piece, Hodas used a combination of programs including Cinema 4D, Zbrush, 3D Coat, Substance Painter, and Substance Designer. Find more of the artist’s work that intertwines history, science, and pop culture on Instagram and Behance.

“Mus Minnius – USA, 1928”

“Anas Scroogius – USA, 1947”

“Anas Scroogius – USA, 1947”

“Spongia Bobæ – USA, 1999”

“Homo Popoculis – USA, 1929”

“Homo Popoculis – USA, 1929”

“Canaria Tweetea – USA, 1941”

“Canaria Tweetea – USA, 1941”

 

 



Art Design Science

Biochemistry Professor Transforms His Research into Bronze Recreations of Ancient Trilobites and Modern Insects

December 17, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

D. Allan Drummond (previously) is an associate professor of biochemistry, molecular biology, and human genetics at the University of Chicago. A few years ago Drummond began turning his extensive research of fossils and prehistoric sea creatures into detailed computer renderings which he then 3D prints and casts in bronze. Although many of his sculptures are inspired by ancient creatures like the trilobite, which existed for over 270 million years before its extinction 250 years ago, he also creates modern-day insects such as praying mantises and large bug-eyed jumping spiders.

Drummond currently has a solo exhibition titled “Curiosity” at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle through January 6th, 2019. In addition to several large individual sculptures, the show features a grid of wall-mounted trilobites that pay homage to the work of the 19th-century illustrator and naturalist Ernst Haeckel. Visitors are encouraged to remove the bronze pieces to explore the underside in greater detail—a part of the creature which is often eroded in fossils over time. You can see more of Drummond’s metal recreations of animals past and present on Instagram.

 

 



Art Design Science

Precise Metallic Replicas of Ancient Fossils and Cells by Allan Drummond

January 25, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Cell Division

By day, D. Allan Drummond is Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at The University of Chicago, where he runs the Drummond Lab. After hours, his interest in evolution and cellular structure takes a different, tangible form. Drummond constructs exacting replicas of creatures from the deep fossil record, paying specific attention to the detail of their underbellies, which are often obliterated by the passage of time. Drummond shares with Colossal:

So far, as a scientist, I’ve been on a slow journey to the bottom, to the deepest level of detail, from seeking to explain patterns of evolution spanning the tree of life, to probing how cells react to their environment, to tinkering with the pieces and parts of molecules swarming inside those cells. The details go all the way down, remaining absorbing and also consequential, worth knowing about and studying. That sensation of unexpectedly interesting detail is what I try to capture in my sculpture.

Each creature is sculpted digitally by Drummond using scientific references, including specimens from private collections. Next, they are 3D printed in wax, and finally lost-wax cast in bronze and finished by hand. The sculptures are rendered down to the smallest detail, including gills, antennae, legs, and even mitochondria in cell division. Drummond shares his in-progress and completed pieces on Instagram and several works are available for sale on his website as jewelry or decorative artifacts.

Trilobite, Ceraurus Species

Trilobite, Ceraurus Species

Trilobite, Ceraurus Species

Trilobite, Ceraurus Species

Trilobite, Ceraurus Species

Sphinx Moth, Hyles Lineata

Sphinx Moth, Hyles Lineata

Sphinx Moth, Hyles Lineata

Trilobite, Hoplolichas Furcifer, in process

Trilobite, Hoplolichas Furcifer

 

 



Art History Science

An Octopus Painted With 95-Million-Year-Old Ink

May 5, 2016

Kate Sierzputowski

Octopus_02

Esther van Hulsen at work on an octopus drawing using 95 million-year-old ink. Photo by Stian Steinsli

Octopus_03

Photo of the fossil on the left by Hans Arne Nakrem, photo of the powder on the right by Esther van Hulsen.

Octopus_01

Image of the completed octopus ink drawing. Photo by Esther van Hulsen

Dutch wildlife artist Esther van Hulsen was recently given an assignment unlike her typical drawings of birds and mammals from life—a chance to draw a prehistoric octopus 95 million years after its death. Paleontologist Jørn Hurum supplied Hulsen with ink extracted from a fossil found in Lebanon in 2009, received as a gift from the PalVenn Museum in 2014. After several millennia Hulson was surprised to find that the color had remained so vibrant, preserved all of this time in the cephalopod’s ink sac. “Knowing that this animal has used this ink to survive is absolutely amazing,” said van Hulsen of the prehistoric ink.

The idea to make such a drawing came from the story of Mary Anning, an English paleontologist and fossil collector who made a similar drawing from a fossil’s ink sac in the 1800s. Hulsen’s replication of the octopus now hangs beside its material origin in the Natural History Museum in Oslo. (via MetaFilter)