Exhumation of the Mastodon

Exhumation of the Mastodon

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Credit: NYPL/SCIENCE SOURCE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: The Exhumation of the Mastodon, by Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) from 1806. Peale's mastadon skeleton was found in swampy ground, and the excavation was difficult. He had to design a machine to bale out the water from the pit. This was operated by a large treadwheel, and the tourists who flocked to see the excavation were put to work operating the wheel. Peale himself painted this dramatic picture of the scene. Peale's talent for showmanship made the mastodon into a national sensation. Other extraordinary fossil finds followed in Europe as well as North America, and by the 1820s the public had become aware of a fantastic prehistoric world inhabited by extinct giant animals.

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Keywords: 1800s, 19th century, america, american, animal, art, artwork, charles willson peale, excavating, excavation, exhumation, exhuming, extinct, fauna, historic, historical, history, illustration, mastadon, mastodon, natural history, nineteenth century, north america, painting, palaeontological, palaeontology, paleontology, peale, pit, prehistoric

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