Probably not quite what you had in mind, but the great bird artist, Roger
Tory Peterson, painted a bird for the book, Birds of Newfoundland, that at
the time was known as the three-toed woodpecker because, unlike most
woodpeckers, it has three, not four, toes.   Yep...he painted the
non-existent forth toe.   That painting is, I believe, on line (the
paintings are, I assume, owned by Newfoundland and Labrador and I come
across them from time to time, surfing the net).

But I can't be too critical...a very long time ago I painted a field guide
painting of shorebirds for a field guide to the birds of the Galapagos (by
M. P. Harris, published by Collins) and added a hind toe to the Sanderling,
a species of sandpiper which, unlike most sandpipers, does not have a hind
toe. Why did I have to make that mistake in what was, at the time, one of my
very rare published painting?  Robert Verity Clem painted Piping Plovers, in
a book by Ralph Palmer on North American shorebirds, with black
feet...although it is the pale yellowish colour of the feet that is one of
the distinguishing features of this species.

The great Louis Agassiz Fuertes, that most masterful of bird artists, in his
series of watercolours of birds of New York State, painted black necks on
adult breeding plumage Canvasbacks and Redheads...they are really red, and
of course he corrected that in subsequent illustrations of these two

There are countless published examples of badly painted birds with markings
that don't belong, various anatomical errors, but the above examples fall
into the "should have known better" categories.   


-----Original Message-----
From: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration-
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Diana Marques
Sent: February-13-11 6:44 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [SCIART] illustration mistakes

Dear All,

I'm working on a presentation (to be given this friday) where I want to
highlight the importance of being well science informed to do a science
illustration, so I am trying to gather examples of illustrations with
mistakes; not necessarily mistakes that are obvious to anyone but for
example images that I could say "this bird would never fly because it's
missing feathers", "it's impossible the ankle would bend that way", "this
dinosaur would never have a bump there", "the leaves in that species are
arranged in a spiral and not bilaterally", "that molecule doesn't exist",

I wonder if you know some of such examples (I'm reachable on or off list). I
have a couple of images already but would love to make them as diverse and
numerous as possible. The presentation will be mostly for an art background
audience and I want to make a very convincing point.
Thank you so much,

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