Dorset

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Lyme Regis

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Birthplace of palaeontology.

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Duria Antiquior, a more ancient Dorset, was the first pictorial representation of a scene of prehistoric life based on evidence from fossil reconstructions, a genre now known as paleoart. The first version was a watercolour painted in 1830 by the English geologist Henry De la Beche based on fossils found in Lyme Regis mostly by the professional fossil collector Mary Anning. De la Beche had the professional artist Georg Scharf produce lithographic prints based on the painting, which he sold to friends to raise money for Anning’s benefit. It was the first scene from deep time to see even limited publication. The print was used for educational purposes and widely circulated in scientific circles; it influenced several other such depictions that began to appear in both scientific and popular literature. Several later versions were produced.

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