1851 Hydrarchos whale fake monster fossil

1851 Hydrarchos whale fake monster fossil

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: 1851 steel engraving from Heck's iconography engraved by Henry Winkles and published in New York. It shows the american exhibition of "Dr." Albert Koch's 114 foot (34 metre) skeleton of a fossil 'sea serpent'. It was displayed as such in the US and later in Europe where it caused a sensation. This was before the dinosaur reconstruction exhibitions of the crystal palace, or any accurate reconstructions of articulated dinosaurs had been attempted. Later Hydrarchos was shown to be a forged composite of up to five individuals primarily of the fossil whale Basilosaurus - at the time believed to be reptilian (hence 'saurus'). Sir Richard Owen earlier showed Basilosaurus was actually a mammal and renamed it Zeuglodon - a synonym which is sometimes preferred but scientifically does not have primacy.

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Keywords: albert koch, artwork, basilosaurus, composite, eocene, fake, forgery, fossil, fossil whale, human, hydrarchos, illustration, loch ness monster, people, person, reconstruction, richard owen, sea monster, whale, zeuglodon

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