Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Department of Paleobiology
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
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Types of paleontological illustration
In the strictest sense, paleontological drawings are prepared for scientists whose publications appear in scholarly journals, monographs, and books written mainly for specialists in the field.

In a broader sense, paleontological drawings are used for projects intended for the general public, such as museum exhibits, childrens' books, nature centers, parks, textbooks, field guides, websites, postage stamps, or even toys and the popular movie industry.

Life restoration painting of Opabinia.

This reconstruction of Opabinia eating Ottoia (505 million year old animals from the Burgess Shale of Canada) was prepared for a Smithsonian traveling exhibit.

 

 

Reconstruction by Mary Parrish.

Paleontologists require a wide variety of visual material to illustrate their work. Paleontological illustrators draw and reconstruct fossil specimens, prepare life restorations of ancient plants, animals and environments, and depict abstract concepts such as evolution and extinction. They also prepare graphic materials, such as geologic sections and cores, cladograms, phylogenetic charts, maps, graphs, diagrams, lecture materials, websites, and arrange and label photographs for publication.



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