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Elephant Bird by Katie Scott

We never formally got round to blogging about our new Prints Collection, so let's do that now. We're very proud of the whole lot, as we've commission these ourselves and it's been a magical process seeing such talented illustrators bringing our ideas to life in their own unique way.

First up is Katie's Scott's Elephant Bird. Being a friend of ours already from our uni days, getting Katie involved with Eastern Biological was a natural and perfect first choice for us. Over the last few months, it's been with pure unadulterated wonderment watching her book Animalium grow into a best-seller, translated into many languages and sold all around the world now.

Children and adults alike are spellbound by the illustrations detailing exquisite naturalistic creatures, page after page in a 'virtual museum' format, taking the reader through the different stages of evolution, genus by genus. Words by Jenny Broom, Animalium is far from a clunky textbook, and we see it as one of many beautiful non-fiction children's books spurring a revolution in high-quality, well-illustrated educational literature at the moment.

Bird illustrations from Animalium:

With Katie's print, we asked her to illustrate a formidable extinct animal, the Elephant Bird, as we saw the theme of extinction as ground somewhat untouched. There are of course no artistic reference points for an extinct animal, in a time before the camera, apart from other artist's conceptions - so it's all the more interesting to create another visualisation of the animal.

The Elephant Bird (Aepyornis maximus) is considered the largest bird to have ever lived. Once native to Madagascar, the first records of the bird are from the 9th century when Saracen and Indian traders visited and spoke of legends of the the giant 'roc' bird. The elephant bird became rarer and rarer once with the settling of Madagascar’s coastal regions, then inner land, by Europeans until it eventually went extinct in the 17th century due to hunting.

Aepyornis is believed to have been more than 3m tall and weighed close to 400 kg, making it the largest bird of its time. Related to ostriches and emus, the elephant bird evolved at a time when birds ruled the earth and had probably existed on Madagascar for 60 million years. Legends told of the fearsome 'roc' bird which ate elephants – in truth, aepyornis was a herbivore.

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