More Scientific illustrations

Published in 1882 by Yale Professor A.E. Verrill, this is the first scientific illustration of a giant squid. More about the giant squid can be found in the Giant Squid section .
Like the modern nautilus, this relative of modern squid hunted from inside the safe haven of a protective shell. Ammonites went extinct around the same time as the dinosaurs—65 million years ago...
This 1837 sketch is Charles Darwin’s first diagram of an evolutionary tree. It appears in his First Notebook on Transmutation of Species (1837).
Humans are late arrivals on Earth. For nearly 75% of Earth’s history, life consisted of single-celled microbes without a nucleus (prokaryotes). Volcanoes and erosion sculpted Earth 3.5 billion years...
A drawing of Phoenix from the Right Whale Catalog documents her callosity pattern and other identifying marks. More about whales can be found in our Tale of a whale featured story .
About 100 million years ago, during the heyday of the dinosaurs , reefs were built by mollusks called rudist clams . They looked very different from today's coral reefs . Discover more about the...
A reconstruction of a new fossil beluga relative, Bohaskaia monodontoides , described by Smithsonian scientists, is in the foreground. Its living relatives, the beluga and narwhal, are illustrated...
This illustration shows how Scarlet Knight , the first unmanned, underwater robot or glider to cross an ocean basin, faced an entire fleet of fishing ships, equipped with nets, threatening the glider...
In 1699, accompanied by a shipboard artist, William Dampier conducted the first scientific investigation of the plants and animals of Australia (then known as New Holland). From there he and his crew...
Humans have long been captivated by what we now call the giant squid ( Architeuthis ). This image gallery gives a glimpe into our fascination with the animal. For a long time, people saw mysterious...
This slideshow features illustrations of some of the plants and animals that William Dampier, a naturalist and pirate, observed in Australia (then known as New Holland) and New Guinea. Learn more...
Like octopods and cuttlefishes, giant squid have eight arms. But they use their two much longer feeding tentacles to seize prey. The tentacles have powerful suckers at the ends. More about the giant...
These watercolor sketches of Trapezia crabs were drawn by Frederick Bayer, a former Smithsonian coral biologist, in 1947. Trapezia crabs live on and within corals, feeding on their tissue and mucus,...
Sharks have six highly refined senses: smell, hearing, touch, taste, sight, and electromagnetism. These finely honed senses, along with a sleek, torpedo-shaped body, make most sharks highly skilled...
Earth’s first animals had soft bodies. This illustration shows a community of soft-bodied Ediacaran (edi-A-karan) animals. Some species resemble living ocean creatures. Others are unlike any known...
This illustration shows one old idea of what the ancient shark Helicoprion might have looked like. There once was room for many ideas—some more plausible than others—because the only fossils of the...
This rendering shows life at the end of the Cretaceous Period, before the impact of a 6.2 mi (10 km) asteroid triggered mass extinctions on land and sea. Dinosaurs are the most famous victims of the...
The waters of New Guinea teemed with exotic fishes and crabs, which were faithfully depicted by William Dampier’s artist. When Dampier’s book A Voyage to New Holland was published in 1703,...
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