Das Reich der Tiere, 1939
By Othenio Abel
When I was in grade school and high school I had no desire to learn a
foreign language. However, if someone had given
me this book during my formative years, I would have jumped at the
opportunity to learn German. This book is loaded
with black and white and color illustrations from a variety of
paleoartists. Of particular interest is the artwork of
Franz Roubal that is contained in this book. According to Debus and Debus, Othenio Abel "often
academic painter Franz Roubal in the pictorial and sculptural
restoration of prehistoric animals." I had never heard of
Roubal until I visited Norman Felchle's Flickr site (be
sure to check it out). After seeing some of Norman's posts,
the Roubal piece's, I had to get a copy of this book. It took a
while to find a copy as it was not available at the familiar online
used book stores such as Abebooks. I finally found and ordered a
copy from a German website. Despite the fact that I
cannot read German, I was not disappointed when the book arrived
because it is loaded with beautiful restorations. There
are several C. R. Knight restorations that are in this book that I have
not seen elsewhere, and the book contains many copies
of Robert Bruce Horsfall's beautiful illustrations of prehistoric
One other thing: Debus and Debus note in their excellent must-have (if
you are into dinosaur collectibles) book,
Paleoimagery, that Abel did significant academic work and wrote
extensively about dinosaurs. However, references to
Abel in recent popular paleontological literature are scarce.
Part of the reason for this, according to Debus and Debus, may
have been related to Abel's association with the Nazi's during World
War II. Debus and Debus note, however, that this
association may have been necessitated in order for Abel to keep his
"prominent position" during the war.
If you enjoy collectible dinosaur books, make sure you get a copy of
this book. In fact, put it at the top of your list.
Styracosaurus by Franz Roubal. Das Reich der Tiere contains many
paintings by Roubal, including dinosaurs, and prehistoric
marine reptiles and mammals. Most of them are very nice, although
in my opinion Roubal generally did a better job illustrating
the prehistoric marine reptiles and mammals than he did with the
I cannot make out who the artist is in this drawing of a Helopus,
although the caption appears to state that it was
reconstructed under the direction of Carl Wiman (the signature on the
bottom right of the drawing clearly does not
say "Carl Wiman").
This drawing of a Moschops is by E. Rungias-Fulda. She also drew
a "Paleoscincus" that appears in this book, and
which also appears in Colbert's, Dinosaurs:
and Their World. The Paleoscincus is really
done, whereas the Moschops illustration is unremarkable.
Rungias-Fulda also prepared an illustration of a Protoceratops
that appears in Roy Chapman Andrews', On the
Trail of Ancient Man (thanks to paleoartist Dan Varner for
to this), and an illustration of a Baluchitherium that appears in A.S.
Romer's The Vertebrate Story. These
are the only four
illustrations of prehistoric animals by
Rungias-Fulda that I am aware of. If you know of any others,
please let me know.
The majority of the illustrations contained in this book are by Abel
himself. Unfortunately, the quality of the illustrations
by the other artists contained in this book makes most (but not all) of
Abel's work look amateurish in comparison.
Nonetheless, a few of Abel's illustrations are fairly decent.
One of two color paintings by C. R. Knight contained in this
book. An uncredited black and white copy of this piece is
also contained in Herbert Wendt's "Before the Deluge." These are
the only two books that I have seen that contain this
Boy I wish I new how to read German!
According to paleoartist Dan Varner (perasonal communication):
"E. Rungius Fulda was the cousin
of the famous big game painter Carl Rungius. She did the old scupture
of a pair of
Protoceratops hatching that can be
seen in Colbert 1961. She also created some Mongolian dinosaur drawings
of R C Andrews' books from the
1920's. They might be in _On The Trail Of Ancient Man_. I don't have my
Andrews books here at the moment,
so I can't be sure. It's difficult to remember as he published
essentially the same
book with different titles through
the years. The Knight brontothere color reproduction
I think originated with
Osborn's two volume monograph on
the Titanotheres as a frontispiece."