Theodor de Bry

[Click to enlarge]

I love the almost-human arms and legs on this enormous alligator, which is being attacked, ostensibly, by Native Americans, as depicted by 16th-century artist Theodor de Bry.

"The verisimilitude of many of de Bry's illustrations is questionable; not least because he never crossed the Atlantic. "
     Posted By: Paul - Wed May 14, 2014
     Category: Animals | Art | Europe | North America | Sixteenth Century

Books with engravings were the mass media of the day. Why would you expect him to choose accuracy over sensationalism?
Posted by Phideaux on 05/14/14 at 08:18 AM
Two things:

First of all I think David Attenborough attacked this idea in one of his documentaries. Quite interesting the lengths they'd go to to exercise their imagination & ignorance.

And, a flock of years ago Ma, Pa, Wifie, and I were crossing the Everglades on the Tamiami Trail. We'd stopped at one of the road side attractions for a break. Across the inlet of water, beside the shop, we saw a 15 to 16 foot gator sunning himself when one of the natives walked over to him and kicked him in the tail to get him to move. Serious cajones!
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 05/14/14 at 09:18 AM
If you look at maps from the era, quite a few had portions marked "Unknown Territory" and "Here There Be Beasties!"

Those hides could make quite a few pairs of shoes.
Posted by KDP on 05/14/14 at 11:37 AM
"Here There Be Beasties!" That was the old cartographers' way of marking where their mother-in-laws lived.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 05/14/14 at 11:46 AM
In my case that would be old girlfriends.
Posted by KDP on 05/14/14 at 02:41 PM
My first girlfriend after college dragged me to a rummage sale because she wanted some god-awful chairs. While she bargained, I looked through a collection of pages which had been torn out of old books and magazines.

One was a map with a "Here Be Dragons" warning. The line drawing was very minimal, but I thought it was cool and plunked down my quarter for the whole stack. (Fortunately, gf didn't get the chairs!)

A couple of years later, I saw a similar-ish map appraised for big bucks. I dug out the map and trotted down to the local museum. The guy looked it up and offered me $100. Score! (This was mid-1970s when that was a decent amount of money to drop out of the sky.) He paid me out of his own pocket.

Later, I began thinking maybe I'd been taken. He had seemed a little too eager and there must have been a reason he bought it himself instead of having the museum cut me a check.

Filed it in my "know better next time" folder and tried not to think about how many thousands it might have been worth.

Couple of years later, girlfriend (not the same one) dragged me to the museum. My map was one of the exhibits! The card on it said it was from a mid-19th Century book. It also said it wasn't economically restorable (it was a little rough around the edges and had a small hole in the center). It must not have been worth a lot (paper restoration is relatively cheap).

Really wish I'd kept it.
Posted by Phideaux on 05/14/14 at 05:13 PM
Dino-gators! :ahhh:
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 05/14/14 at 07:51 PM
The eyes...binocular...human...weird.
Posted by Courtney on 05/14/14 at 08:11 PM
Really, compared to some of the things that ended up in books in those days, this one is not all that inaccurate. Even if he did get the scale and the details wrong, at least it's still recognisable as an alligator.
Posted by Richard Bos on 05/15/14 at 08:22 AM
Doesn't it look a lot like a mystriosuchus (Late Triassic ancestor of alligators)?
Posted by Phideaux on 05/15/14 at 11:02 AM
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