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Celebrating Charles R. Knight, the artist who first brought dinosaurs and megafauna to life

Charles R. Knight was a wildlife illustrator whose career spanned the era when dinosaurs first captured the public imagination in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Unlike other nature artists of his generation, Knight realized that the same skills he used to capture the beauty of wild animals could be used to bring extinct creatures to life. Now Abrams has released a gorgeous new book collecting some of his most beautiful illustrations. We’ve got a gallery.

Working with scientists, Knight created some of the first realistic (for the science of the era) images of dinosaurs, Pleistocene megafauna like mammoths and sabre tooth cats, and neolithic peoples. His work inspired the dinosaurs depicted in early movies King Kong, and eventually came to grace many museums (the wooly mammoth sculptures at the La Brea Tar Pits are based on Knight’s drawings). Now some of his dinosaur images are out of date — we know, for example, that most dinosaurs probably had proto-feathers — but they are still iconic. And his work is glorious testimony to the importance of using beautiful art to illuminate scientific discoveries.
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