IMAGES: Sketching Out Past Worlds

Science  21 Jan 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5708, pp. 329a
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5708.329a

For more than 200 years, drawings of fossils and extinct plants and animals have helped paleontologists share their findings with other scientists and the public. A new site from illustrator Mary Parrish of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., explores this corner of paleobiology. An online gallery displays examples, such as Triceratops from the dinosaur collection of late-19th-century paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh. The site's primer on techniques describes how drawings provide what photos can't: reconstructing a jumble of fossilized bones, putting flesh on a skeleton, or illustrating an ancient landscape. A third section discusses the museum's efforts to preserve its 3500 illustrations, launched in 1995 after staffers discovered a crumbling cache of ink drawings.

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