Revealing a “Modern-Day Velociraptor”

Artist and science illustrator Jane Kim puts the final touches on the southern cassowary
Artist and science illustrator Jane Kim puts the final touches on the southern cassowary in her new mural at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (Photo by Danza Chisholm-Sims/Ink Dwell)

To celebrate its centennial, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has commissioned Ink Dwell studio to create a mural 70 feet long and 40 feet high depicting the 375-million-year evolution of birds through paintings of 271 species.

When complete it will be the world’s only mural depicting all the modern families of birds in one place. It’s a historic project, on a massive canvas, and artist Jane Kim got started with an appropriately giant bird: the southern cassowary.

The huge mural depicts the 375 million year evolution of birds, showing 271 species. The historic mural will be the only one in the world showcasing all the families of modern birds in one place. (Image courtesy Jane Kim/Ink Dwell)

The Bird

As a continent colonized by convicts and packed with some of the world’s most venomous animals, it’s fitting that Australia is home to a bird as prickly as the southern cassowary.

Standing five feet tall and topping 100 pounds, the flightless cassowary is the MMA champion of the avian world. It can jump five feet in the air, swim across rivers, and has inner toes that bear five-inch slashing blades, built to disembowel.

Though shy, these modern-day velociraptors have been known to attack and even kill humans, a prospect so “terrifying and ignominious” that Outside magazine once ranked death by cassowary as one of the 10 worst ways to die in the wild. Still, attacks on people are generally rare, mostly occur as a result of poor human judgment, and can usually be avoided by following this simple rule: do not provoke the giant bird armed with murderous dagger claws.

<img src="×1024.jpg" alt="Before painting, —> Read More