The Age of Mammals Mural

The Age of Reptiles MuralRudolph F. Zallinger’s great mural The Age of Mammals is the centerpiece for the Hall of Mammalian Evolution at the Yale Peabody Museum. Although the principal focus of the mural is on the momentous evolutionary developments taking place in the warm-blooded, hairy, milk-giving vertebrates known as mammals, the painting also depicts the striking changes that were transforming the landscapes, the climates, and the plant life of western North America starting shortly after the extinction of the dinosaurs, about 66 million years ago and culminating with the giant animals of the Ice Age, about 8,000 years ago. These changes in the environment and vegetation have been skillfully woven into the tapestry of the mural itself, providing the viewer with a feelingfor the forces that shaped the outcome of this vast evolutionary drama.

The mural resulted from a commission by Life magazine for its series The World We Live In. It was painted in the Renaissance fresco secco technique and completed over a six-year period (1961 to 1967). Measuring about 60 feet (18.3 meters) by 5.5 feet (1.7 meters), it occupies the south wall of the Hall of Mammalian Evolution at the Museum. Reading from left to right, the painting presents a single panorama of life on land beginning shortly after the extinction of the dinosaurs and ending with the giant animals of the Ice Age. Emphasizing mammals and angiosperms—the flowering plants—the mural portrays the prehistoric animals and plants with scientific accuracy in an idealized landscape, the result of the close collaboration of the artist with the most preeminent scientists of that day.

 

The Age of Mammals mural by Rudolph Zallinger
A poster and guide to the The Age of Mammals mural are available from The Museum Store.

The Age of Mammals may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form or media without the written permission of the Yale Peabody Museum. For information, contact peabody.permissions@yale.edu.

Adapted from A Guide to The Age of Mammals in the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 2nd edition, by J.H. Ostrom, L.J. Hickey, D.M. Schankler, B.H. Tiffney and S.L. Wing. ©1993 Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University. All rights reserved.

The Age of Mammals, a mural by Rudolph F. Zallinger. ©1966, 1975, 1989, 1991, 2000 Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA. All rights reserved.