History and Culture

Dinosaur crazy: Chinese science artist recreates ancient animals and their habitat

2017-05-27 14:02:00 (Beijing Time)         CGTN

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As the only professional science artist in China, Zhao Chuang shared his "Darwin Plan" with the world through the journal of the International Geographical Congress.

Zhao's work often appears in international media. In 2005, Wang Xiaolin, a scientist, discovered the fossil of an ancient flying animal. He got in touch with Zhao and asked him to paint it. Back then, Zhao was in his sophomore year of university.

Not long after, Zhao's drawing of the ancient flying animal was used by Nature Magazine. This was the first drawing by a Chinese person to be put on the magazine's cover. That was a very important step on his way to be recognized for his work.

Since his drawings aim to be as realistic as possible, Zhao has to know the dinosaurs' environment, as well as ancient meteorology and botany, not to mention fine art. He had to bring science and art together, a very long road.

After graduating from university, Zhao left for Beijing. In 2009, he and the children's book author, Yang Yang established the Woodpecker Science Club, which produced images of ancient creatures. They called their project, "The Darwin Plan."

The biggest challenge for Zhao is that words describing ancient fauna are all really long, maybe 20 letters or more, and they have six or seven syllables. Also, ancient flora is dry, as the leaves all looked the same and the names are hard to pronounce, like capilliaire. They're hard to remember and all look the same, so he had to learn by rote. Ancient geography is even dryer, but if he wants to work on any topic, he has to research and understand it.

But things are getting better. The Chongqing Museum of Natural History contacted Zhao in 2015, asking him to make a short film about the Mamenchisaurus. After that, Zhao's exhibitions of world dinosaurs was held in Chongqing's Museum of Natural History. The exhibition collected many of Zhao's paintings and sculptures. This was his first exhibition promoting his own work.