Scientist of the Day - Charles Knight
Charles Knight, the father of "dinosaur art", was born Oct. 21, 1874. Knight is best known for his large dinosaur murals, especially the ones in the Field Museum in Chicago (see first image above), but some of his best drawings appeared as black-and-white illustrations for magazine articles. His wonderful drawing of Ornithomimus (second image) was one such sketch, and it demonstrates a belief that Knight came to hold long before the rest of the paleontological world—that dinosaurs were active, nimble, and intelligent creatures. His depiction of a Diplodocus rising on its hind legs to eat the tender leaves at the top of trees, which appeared on the cover of Scientific American in 1907, is another daring rendition for its time (third image). His drawing of an Allosaurus munching on a sauropod tail, mimicking a mount at the American Museum of Natural History, is memorable as well (fourth image).
Knight often made models of specimens to facilitate his paintings, as we see with a pair of “Leaping Laelaps” that he sculpted (fifth image). Knight was in fact a gifted sculptor as well as artist, and we showed several of his dinosaur models in our 1996 exhibition, Paper Dinosaurs, as well as other examples of his prints.
Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City. Comments or corrections are welcome; please direct to firstname.lastname@example.org.