Terrible Lizards!  Shaping the look of Jurassic Dinosaurs

Towards the end of his life, Edward Drinker Cope was a broke man. 
His scientific efforts had lead to spending a family fortune in pursuit of prehistoric secrets of yesteryear. Cope spent the latter years of his life living along his fossils and finds in Philadelphia. But even towards the end, the scientist had one more gift to give the world. 
A new way to look at dinosaurs!


Up until now, dinosaurs had been viewed as slow and stupid creatures. But Cope had a revolutionary new take on the terrible lizards as acrobatic assassins! To further spread his latest theory, Cope enlisted the help of Charles R. Knight, a young artist.
In 1897, near death, Cope walked Knight through a variety of sketches and scientific findings in his loft in Philadelphia that would help re-shape the way the world viewed the prehistoric past. Knight was able to absorb priceless information of the brilliant artistic interpretations of the dinosaurs Cope had discovered among his lifetime.


Just a few weeks after this meeting, Edward Cope died.
But his legacy was not forgotten. Knight worked with these interpretations to create the first images of the Terrible Lizards we know today. Though recent scientific findings have changed the shape of the way we look at Dinosaurs, Edward Drinker Cope through Charles R. Knight directly inspired the way the world first looked at these creations. 

One of Knight’s first pieces inspired by Cope’s sketches and ideas that focused on the reconstruction of dinosaur behavior and anatomy.  “Leaping Laelaps” (shown here) imagined Carnosaurs as acrobatic assassins.  At the time, this was considered a very controversial take on the creatures, which had been stupid and slow-moving terrible lizards.


Charles R. Knight’s paintings have inspired young minds for decades since, hanging at a variety of institutions across America, including the American Museum of Natural History, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

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