The Age of Reptiles Mural
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Painter: Rudolph F. Zallinger

Date: 1942 to 1947

Technique: Renaissance fresco secco

Time Period: Devonian Period (362 million years ago) to Cretaceous Period (65 million years ago)

Dimensions: 110 feet (33.5 meters) by 16 feet (4.9 meters)

The Age of Reptiles
mural occupies the full length of the east wall of the Yale Peabody Museum’s Great Hall, where it presides over the exhibition gallery built in 1925 to accommodate the skeleton of the massive Apatosaurus (“Brontosaurus”) and other dinosaurs discovered and named by the Museum’s founder, O.C. Marsh. The mural is a work of art that showcases a panorama of the evolutionary history of the earth based on the best scientific knowledge available at the time. The chronology of the mural, read from right to left, spans more than 300 million years, with the large foreground trees marking the boundaries between the geologic periods. Zallinger’s portrayal of the prehistoric plants and animals was innovative for its time, showing them in natural, realistic landscapes, the result of the collaboration of the artist with the most preeminent paleontologists, paleobotanists, biologists and geologists of that day. In 1949 Zallinger received the Pulitzer Award for Painting in recognition of his work on The Age of Reptiles. A treasure of the Yale Peabody Museum, today the mural is used by docents as the starting point to educate visitors and school groups about the evolution of life, and also about the evolution of scientific research in the decades since it was completed.

The Age of Reptiles
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.

The Age of Reptiles, a mural by Rudolph F. Zallinger. Copyright © 1966, 1975, 1985, 1989, Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.