STL Science Center

STL Science Center

05 May 2017

Not A Glamour Shot

This week has flashed by somewhat quickly. Typically, if available, I show a size comparison of the fossil animal to modern humans at some point during the week and I noticed that I have not done so this week. Anyone that has seen a Glyptodon fossil in a museum can very much appreciate the size of this fossil relative of armadillos without seeing such a size comparison. However, those that have not can view the first image shown here and begin to really gauge what this animal may have looked like up close. Despite being an herbivore, and most likely a relatively calm one at that, the sheer size of the animal and its carapace are daunting and, this is my speculation, would be terrifying to view with only a few feet or yards between the animal and an average sized human.

Moving away from the size comparison to look at a unique view of Glyptodon in comparison, we find this armadillo-like version of the ancestor to armadillos. Daniel Eskridge purposely and knowingly stresses that his art is art before it is paleo-art. Sharing this distinction straight away means that we can simply enjoy his interpretation of Glyptodon without complaining about how he got aspects of the animal "wrong" according to modern convention (not saying I think he did, just that some forums tend to focus on these things). These topics can still be broached, but appreciating the familiar looking snout of an armadillo morphed into an ancestral state on the body of Glyptodon makes this animal look less like a prehistoric creature and more like an animal that we could see in the modern wild. This sort of interpretation and believable subject is not uncommon in paleo-art, nor is it entirely frowned upon, but more and more the push for separating interpretation and scientific based representation, I think, is causing people to ignore some of the best endeavors of artists of the past in trying to recreate or interpret interesting soft tissue anatomy. Aside from this, the alert look of the Glyptodon and its head posture make it look curious but frightened at the same time. This gives the animal a somewhat innocent look as well. At the same time I think it underlies a very firm grasp on wildlife behaviors and how an animal that was interrupted at the stream might look at whatever (us in this case) interrupted his drink. As everyone knows, I appreciate paleo-art that is a little different and shares an intriguing new view of the animals we discuss here. This piece certainly does that.
©Daniel Eskridge; @deskridge;

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