Animals Drawn Wrong

A catalogue of not-quite-natural illustrations.

Red Squirrel

Sciurus vulgaris

From “Nieuw printenboek voor kinderen”

by Friedrich Justin Bertuch


Source: Vintage Printable


Orcinus orca

From "Gemeinnüzzige Naturgeschichte des Thierreichs"

by Georg Heinrich Borowski
Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Herbst
D. F Sotzmann


Source: Biodiversity Hertiage Library

Bottlenose Dolphin (presumably)

Tursiops truncatus

From "L’histoire naturelle des estranges poissons marins"

by Pierre Belon


Source: Biodiversity Hertiage Library

Maned Sloth

Bradypus torquatus

Unidentified artist, 1626

"This drawing was probably copied from a painting which Cassiano [dal Pozzo] saw in Madrid in 1626. The original artist presumably working from a preserved specimen to reconstruct its appearance worked on the reasonable assumption that it would have stood upright like other mammals."

Source: The Royal Collection

Reindeer, aka Caribou

Rangifer tarandus

FromVerzameling van uitlandsche en zeldzaame vogelen”

by J.C. Sepp

Source: Biodiversity Hertiage Library

Bramble Shark

Echinorhinus brucus

From A history of the fishes of the British Islands”

Groombridge and Sons,1862-65

Source: Biodiversity Hertiage Library


I love scientific illustration, and the impressions and features artistis have focussed on when interpreting nature, especially in the era before photography became commonplace.

But for many reasons - specimen degredation, partial observation, secondhand descriptions and so on - illustrations sometimes end up portraying a peculiar vision of the natural world.

This tumblr will showcase these, alongside current observations of the same subject, to show how wide of the mark some cases can be, and the progress science and imaging has made over the centuries.