Friday, January 1, 2010

Vintage Dinosaur Art: Zallinger in LIFE

The September 7, 1953 issue of life featured as its centerpiece a huge fold-out of Rudolf Zallinger's "The Age of Reptiles." It's an earlier version than the famed mural at the Peabody Museum. According to Robert Bakker, seeing this issue of LIFE at his grandfather's house was the seed from which his career would eventually sprout.

The whole issue is available at Google books. The essay the fold-out accompanies is the fifth part of a series called "The World We Live In" that ran between 1952 and 1954, a sprawling overview of the Earth's natural history, using the best information available at the time.

Here's a handy list of links to each of the issues featuring an installment of the series. It is definitely worth reading for anyone who enjoys natural history or old-timey science writing. Zallinger also provided the artwork for "The Age of Mammals" and "The Rain Forest."

Part I: The Earth Is Born
Part II: Miracle of the Sea
Part III: The Face of the Land
Part IV: The Canopy of Air
Part V: The Age of Reptiles
Part VI: The Age of Mammals
Part VII: Creatures of the Sea
Part VIII: The Coral Reef
Part IX: The Land Of The Sun
Part X: The Arctic Barrens
Part XI: The Rain Forest
Part XII: The Woods Of Home
Part XIII: The Starry Universe


  1. Those are eye-saurs, not dinosaurs. Then again, they were considered pretty acurate in their day.

  2. Of course, we now know that dinosaurs danced and leaped, covered with brightly colored feathers like tropical birds and butterflies. Beware, a future generation may laugh at the current conceptions of rigorous restorations of dinosaurs! In the meantime, some of us oldies still get a warm fuzzy feeling from pictures of the dinosaurs of our youths - Bronto in the swamp and all! Tom Johnson (I got my copy of The World We Live In on Christmas, 1959).


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