Prehistoric Animals


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Dinosaurs in movies arts and books

Technology has given us the ability to show precisely the dinosaurs as they were in the Mesozoic era. It is always nice to see a dinosaur exhibition in a museum, but it does not offer an accurate view of the life of these animals. Also, we are forced to use our imagination to bring them back to life, because it is very unlikely to see cloned dinosaurs one day. Fortunately, many media have helped us.

Dinosaurs paleoart and illustrations

Iguanodon at Crystal Palace
Iguanodon at Crystal Palace - Wikimedia commons

Artists began to represent dinosaurs for a wider audience shortly after the publication of the discoveries of the Megalosaurus and Buckland Iguanodon in the early nineteenth century. Thus, the first interpretations of the Iguanodon resembled a giant iguana and were in perfect harmony with the scientific opinion of the moment. The reconstitution of the Iguanodon exhibited at the Crystal Palace in London in 1854, according to Richard Owen, represented the quintessence of scientific knowledge, though now out of date for a modern eye. It is by observing the various representations of dinosaurs over time that we are aware of the evolution of our knowledge of dinosaurs, because graphic designers have always collaborated with scientists to bring their works in line with the latest discoveries. In the late nineteenth century, Thomas Henry Huxley emphasized the similarities between Archaeopteryx, the oldest known bird and other dinosaurs. Nevertheless, it is at the beginning of the 20th century that the image of the dinosaurs as slow and cold-blooded animals ended. It will be necessary to wait until the 1970s to see emerge representations of dinosaurs as agile and fast.

Dinosaurs in literature and books

The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Novels featuring dinosaurs date back to the second half of the 19th century. Thus, most early examples show explorers falling face to face with prehistoric monsters - such as in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World or in a few essays by Edgar Rice Burrough. Sometimes, like in Jules Verne's feature adaptation of Voyage au Center de la Terre, the dinosaurs remained deeply buried. The first novels, with a certain poetic license, showed us men living with extremely large dinosaurs. It must be said, however, that the authors were inspired by the scientific knowledge of the time. Thus, popular literature is representative of scientific knowledge. Only two contemporary novels written by Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park and The Lost World, (this one having nothing to do with Conan Doyle's novel) present the dinosaurs as palaeontologists of the 1990s perceive them.

Dinosaurs in movies

King Kong movie 1933
King Kong movie 1933

For many of us, it is essential to actually see these fascinating animals move. Since almost the beginning of the history of cinema, the dinosaurs have been represented in the movies. One of these first stars was Gertie, a dancing sauropod, presented on screens around the world since 1914. At that time, dinosaurs were created using animated models shot by shot. This technique is the one used in 1933 for the sensational King Kong. Cartoons have always been popular, but in 1940 they reached a peak with the Walt Disney Fantasia. But many filmmakers filmed dinosaurs, a technique made famous by Godzilla and his many sequels, in 1956. Others preferred to make very tight shots on fake horn lizards or live alligators.