Wildfahrt’s snorkeling Iguanodons

wildfarth_iguanodon

… but otherwise surprisingly modern-looking.

The predominant image of dinosaurs as water-going creatures did not limit itself to sauropods; hadrosaurs were also considered to be pond dwellers for a long time. However, the idea of Iguanodon as an aquatic animal was not quite so common. This German work from the late 1940s is testimony to the fact that German paleontology had some pretty idiosyncratic ideas of its own.1)Martin Wildfahrt, Die Lebensweise der Dinosaurier (Stuttgart: Schweizerbart, 1949).

(Illustration taken from P. Bultynck, Bernissart en de Iguanodons (Brussels: Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences, 1987), p. 74.)

References   [ + ]

About Hydrarchos

hydrarchos_1845

Hydrarchos harlani, contemporary etching (ca. 1845)

This isn’t so much a blog as a place for me to reflect on the history of paleontology. Don’t expect academic, article-sized contributions here. Instead, it’s a place to comment about publications in paleontology, the history of science and things related to either that seem relevant to me.

Why Hydrarchos?

Hydrarchos harlani was a creative amalgam consisting of several skeletal parts originally belonging to the fossil whale Basilosaurus (Zeuglodon). ‘Dr.’ Albert Karl Koch, a German who had emigrated to the United States, handily played into the then current interest in sea snakes, and toured the United States, and later Europe, with his invention in the 1840s. Eventually, the first Hydrarchos was bought by the Prussian royal zoological cabinet in 1848.

We’ll get back to the details of the Hydrarchos story at length, but I chose it as the name for this site because it symbolizes the crossroads of science, popular culture, and history – and of course not because of my intention to deceive you as a reader. I hope.