New GSA Book Highlights Paleontological Art

Boulder, Colo., USA: Fossils have stirred the imagination globally for thousands of years, starting well before they were recognized as the remains of once-living organisms and proxies of former worlds. This new memoir from the Geological Society of America samples the history of art about fossils and the visual conceptualization of their significance starting with biblical and mythological depictions, extending to renditions of ancient life as it flourished in long-vanished habitats, and on to a modern understanding that fossil art conveys lessons for the betterment of the human condition.

The 29 chapters and accompanying artwork in this volume explore important developments in visualization of ancient life forms and the vanished worlds in which they lived, and how paleoart continues to inspire our fascination with the past.

The book begins with several chapters that trace the history of writings and art about fossils to show how paleoart encapsulates the scientific history of fossil investigation, as well as Earth’s history. They also show how our understanding of fossils and ancient lives has evolved through time.

From illustrations of dinosaur tracks to three-dimensional sculptures, paleoart also helps educate students and the public by providing a standardized representation of fossil specimens, while also allowing for the preservation of fossil records for future reference.

Chapters covering postage-stamp art, murals, and microfossil art emphasize a major theme of the volume—that science can be of interest to and is for everyone.

Covering paleoart from Henry De la Beche to Charles R. Knight to Henry Augustus Ward to present-day innovators, this volume recognizes the contributions of notable women paleontological artists such as Elisabeth Rungius Fulda, Helen Ziska, Lindsey Morris Sterling, Margret Joy Flinsch Buba, Mary Morland Buckland, and Orra White Hitchcock.

Finally, this memoir presents the modern understanding that paleoart helps communicate important lessons about the interdependent relationships between humans and other organisms and the environment, and it propels us toward wise stewardship of our planet.

Copies can be purchased through The Geological Society of America online store or by contacting GSA Sales and Service,

Book editors of earth science journals/publications may request a review copy by contacting April Leo,

The Evolution of Paleontological Art
Edited by Renee M. Clary, Gary D. Rosenberg, and Dallas C. Evans
Geological Society of America Memoir 2018
MWR218, 275 p., $60; GSA member price $42
ISBN 9780813712185
Table of contents

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For Immediate Release
13 July 2022
GSA Release No. 22-39

Kea Giles

Cover of MWR 218
Cretaceous Life of New Jersey by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. 1877. Oil on canvas, 81 × 221.6 cm (31 7/8 in. × 87 ¼ in). Princeton University, Department of Geosciences, Guyot Hall, PP336. Credit: Princeton University Art Museum / Art Resource, NY.