19th century illustration of "Pre historic animals and reptiles"


On his blog Monster Brains, Aeron posted this gorgeous print of a what appears to be a prehistoric animal hootenanny. He writes:

I would like to request the help of anyone familiar with this kind of prehistoric creature illustration. I'm collecting work to present as a week long post devoted to dinosaurs next spring. I'm interested in illustrations of dinosaurs more along the lines of those found in this previous post where the interpretations aren't exactly scientifically accurate, but are perhaps more fantastic, thanks!
Pre historic animals and reptiles



  1. There are some lovely murals of prehistoric beasties at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC… somewhat dated, alas, as we know more now, but still very pretty work. I suspect photos of them can be found on line somewhere; certainly they must appear in books.

    Check your local library’s reference desk; they like a good challenge!

    (“Ah yes. The Norwegian Blue Pterodactyl. Lovely plumage…”)

  2. Interesting and beautiful. Fun seeing animals that lived 20 thousand years ago (the mammoths ) juxtaposed with animals that lived more than 65 million years ago (the dinosaurians ), and the flying dragon-like creatures! But they’re all pre-historic.

  3. “where might I obtain a print of the gorgeous illustration?”

    If you find out, please let me know!

  4. If I’m not mistaken that is actually a late-50s photograph of Monster Island off the coast of Japan.

  5. @#4 – Actually, no. To quote Oz: “a gathering is brie, mellow song stylings; shindig, dip, less mellow song stylings, perhaps a large amount of malt beverage; and hootenanny, well, it’s chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny.”

    I’d say hootenanny is appropriate here :)

  6. One can get it as a postcard, part of the Ken Brown collection copyright 2000. I sent it to my daughter with the following text (though she can’t yet read):

    Dear Emerson,
    the world is wide and wonderful
    and full of curious critters
    some are nice to pet
    while others are biters and spitters
    and though some may be fearful
    wicked or sordid too
    remember we are all animals
    even me and you;
    with our hair and nails and teeth
    yes you and mom and me
    are all delightful members
    of God’s grand menagerie.

  7. It looks like an paraphrase of an illustration in the Gustav Doré bible to me. I can’t find the image that pop up in my head anywhere, it had three panicking elephants as well. Maybe I am just imagining things or it is from another book.

    I also think it looks more 20th century (or even 21th) then 19th. The faux rainbow chiaroscuro woodcut is a nice touch though.

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