--> --> The Ammonite’s Aquarium: Illustrating Mesozoic Marine Environments

AAPG Rocky Mountain Section Meeting

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The Ammonite’s Aquarium: Illustrating Mesozoic Marine Environments


Drawings and paintings of dinosaurs are easily the most iconic and widespread examples of palaeoart in the world today. But the tradition of illustrating the marine life of the Mesozoic far predates the first tentative reconstructions of dinosaurs from the late 1830’s – a lithograph clearly depicting ammonites left stranded on the shore by the receding waters of Noah’s Flood was drawn by Richard Corbould back in 1804. Modern marine palӕoart draws from several disciplines, including comparative anatomy, ichnology, and a much greater understanding of marine biology than was available to scientists of the 19th century. For example, research into the anatomy, behaviour and habitat preferences of the modern squid, octopus and Nautilus can inform the portrayal of ancient marine organisms such as belemnites, ammonites and orthocones. The process by which a finished palӕontological illustration is produced is examined, with particular attention to the ammonites and other sea life of the Jurassic Sundance Formation, and the late Cretaceous fauna of the Cody Shale.