STL Science Center

STL Science Center

28 March 2015

Newer Illustrations

The newer illustrations, such as that seen yesterday, show Sivatherium as a rather giraffe-like creature with similar proportions and what appear to be nearly identical cranial elements. The adornments of the modern version of illustrated Sivatherium are very different from those that were illustrated when the original materials and descriptions were being publicized and discussed in the scientific community. The original depictions of Sivatherium showed an animal very much like a moose. Due to the proportions of the bodies of these animals those types of illustrations make a great deal of sense as biologists or naturalists of the time would have compared the animal in front of them to those in their living ecosystems and very few animals of the interior of Africa were known and well understood. The okapi, still elusive today, was probably not even known of at the time by the majority of illustrators and paleontologists like Heinrich Harder. A giraffe would have been only barely comparable to Sivatherium because of the proportions in question and the nearest living animal of the time in shape would have almost certainly been the moose. This, at least, has the appearance of a logical deduction as to why Sivatherium looks like a giant moose with horns in pre-1950's illustrations. I, if readers remember correctly, love anachronistic art pieces like this. Heinrich Harder is definitely one of my favorites, and this illustration is not an exception to the quality of his work.

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