STL Science Center

STL Science Center

08 September 2017

Lacking in Illustrations

The exquisite preservation of Heliobatis is often all anyone needs to imagine this animal punting along (that is correct verb to describe ray swimming) the bottom of the freshwater habitats they called home. Few illustrations, paintings, or other media have been carried out to depict Heliobatis in action within its habitat. Another, potential, reason that there is not a high demand for illustrations of the ray is that it appears to have been quite similar to extant rays, making illustrated representations of the ray appear less fantastic and awe inspiring than many other paleo art; this is not a reason to not create art of course. It is hard to pick a single image of Heliobatis to share as a wonderful depiction of the animal today because of all of the good photos of the well preserved fossils. Regardless, if I was forced to choose one single specimen to hang on my wall (Heliobatis fossils are for sale all over the internet, by the way), I would go with the image shown here. The detail is wonderful, as usual, but in a different way than the majority of other fossils. The slab is darker, and therefore the fossil details are also darker. The higher contrast makes thee anatomical details pop out a bit more and the contrasting elements of relieved and elevated portions of stone in the slab have a more natural look to them.

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