Science and Inquiry discussion

Archive > Nice snake

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 2: by Carolyn (last edited Feb 07, 2009 10:50AM) (new)

Carolyn Ivy (carolynivystein) There is a much larger image of the artist's rendition of the snake:

How does someone become a scientific artist, I wonder. I've read that nineteenth century archaeology teams always included an artist among their members. Is it the same for paleontologists? Is there a specialty of scientific artists that hires out for pictures such as this? Wouldn't it be divine if there were a book on the history and profession of scientific art (complete with copious pictures)?

message 3: by William (new)

William (acknud) Carolyn wrote: "There is a much larger image of the artist's rendition of the snake:

How does someone become a scientif..."

Find a book on it and we will add it to the reads!

message 4: by Peter (last edited Feb 07, 2009 11:18PM) (new)

Peter Macinnis Carolyn wrote: "How does someone become a scientific artist . . ."

Jenny Uglow's Nature's Engraver sheds some fascinating light on Thomas Bewick, who was close to being a scientific artist.

I can't speak for archaeology teams, but many Australian explorers, especially those on ships had artists with them. I have no idea how much training they got in advance.

In many cases, though, art was completed back in Europe, using badly-stuffed bodies, or even study skins. I saw a pic (done 1790) the other day of a parrot that is all dishevelled as though it has been through the tumble-dryer and sitting on an English tree. Sarah Stone did it from a study skin, of that, there can be no doubt. You can see it from this URL:

Later: I meant to add that even a 16-foot snake looks large. We encountered one coming out of the New Guinea mountains: it was across the road with its head in the drain on one side and its tail on the other. Its neck had been wired (I guess somebody was tired of losing pigs. We moved it off the road, marked the place, raced to the pub and told a taxidermist who raced out to salvage it and then bought us all a beer as finder's fee.

message 5: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn Ivy (carolynivystein) Thank you for the information on Australian explorers and the tip to look up Thomas Bewick and Jenny Uglow's book on him. It looks like it will afford hours of enjoyment.

As to snakes, they all look big to me. I am irrationally afraid of them and no amount of self-talk can stop my heart from racing and my perception from narrowing to the snake alone when I come across one. I cannot imagine coming across so large a snake as you did.

I am amazed by the discoveries being made in paleontology and fascinated by the speculative art being done to illustrate those discoveries. Have you seen the story of the transitional turtles that have only their bottom plastron and no top shell (Odontochelys semitestacea )?

Not only is it a completely fascinating story from the perspective of evolution and science, it is illustrated with one of the cutest artist's renditions of a paleontological find ever.

message 6: by Peter (new)

Peter Macinnis In Australia, they say that 90% of snakebites come from people trying to kill or catch snakes. The other 10% are just unlucky, and apparently, those who die are fewer than those who die of bee stings. I don't try to catch or kill them, though I once nearly picked up a black snake that I mistook for a piece of tyre tread. I stopped in time, and I still pick up rubbish in the wilderness, but I do it more slowly.

Now about the explorers-from-the-sea: artists were used to reproduce the appearance of the coast as it was mapped, but they also did flowers and some of them did animals.

Now about recent fossil art from Oz: I am at my grand-daughter's house and heading from here to Melbourne (flying over the bushfire areas just on sunset), so I cannot look to see what unshelved books I would recommend, but look for Mary White and also for Tom Rich and his spouse, Pat Vickers-Rich, also John Long. There are others, not yet shelved, but the names elude me. It's summer, after all.

message 7: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn Ivy (carolynivystein) Thank you so much for the information!

message 8: by Peter (new)

Peter Macinnis Carolyn wrote: "How does someone become a scientific artist, I wonder"

Sorry to revisit this so late, but just the other week, I chanced on a book by Jane P. Davidson: 'A History if Paleontology Illustration', Indiana University Press. The author is Professor of Art History at the University of Nevada, Reno. I was on my way to dinner before a play, so I scribbled a couple of notes to myself which were then submerged for a bit.

It may be worth a browse,


back to top