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‘Jurassic Park’ inspired new fossil insect book

A scene from the Permian period.
Courtesy of Richard Bizley

The ‘Jurassic Park’ movies inspired an enlivened interest in prehistoric insects and resulted in funding that enabled paleontologists and artists to collaborate on a new book depicting the most realistic insects from the time of the dinosaurs and before. Dr. .David Penney, an Honorary Lecturer in the Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester, Dr. James E. Jepson, a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, Germany, Richard Bizley, a general scientific artist with a gallery at Lyme Regis, Dorset, collaborated on the book “Fossil Insects, An Introduction to Palaeoentomology” that will be published on July 31, 2014, by Siri Scientific Press. The announcement of the publication was made on July 28, 2014, at the University of Manchester website.

As most science fiction movie fans know, bugs have never been well presented in science fiction movies even films that featured bugs as the monsters. Dinosaur flicks rarely even showed any insects at all. Steven Spielberg and company worked with experts to present some of the most true-to-life insects ever seen in movies in the “Jurassic Park” series.

The book is the result of years of investigation of all known insect fossil that have ever been unearthed. Many of the best preserved insects have been found in fossilized amber. The insects that are preserved in amber often present the capacity to see interior body structure and soft tissue using modern techniques like CT scans. Wing vein structure is one of the most important structures that identify an insect and also one of the most difficult to capture on canvas according to Bizley.

The researchers and artist made seven life scale models of representative insects from the earliest known Devonian species to the Tertiary Period. The models were photographed to present the proper lighting for the artist. This is one instance where the movies have inspired funding for the sciences to expand research and produce never before seen animals in the most realistic representations possible.

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