Eduard Suess and Palaeontology: His Illustrations

Şengör A. M. C.

Earth Sciences History, vol.40, no.2, pp.461-502, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 40 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.17704/1944-6187-40.2.461
  • Journal Name: Earth Sciences History
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, American History and Life, Historical Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.461-502
  • Keywords: 'the art of leaving out', brachiopods, cephalopods, Eduard Suess, graptolites, mammals, palaeontological illustration
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


© 2021 History of the Earth Sciences Society.The very first scientific paper by the great Austrian geologist Eduard Suess (1831-1914), the dean of geologists internationally during his lifetime, treats the graptolites of Bohemia (the 'Barrandian'). This paper and most of his subsequent papers on palaeontology are accompanied by superb drawings of his observations in which Suess took great care not to insert himself between Nature as he perceived it in the framework of the knowledge of his day and his readers. In his drawings, he exercised what the great German geologist Hans Cloos later called 'the art of leaving out'. This meant that in the drawings, the parts not relevant to the discussion are left only in outline, whereas parts he wished to highlight are brought to the fore by careful shading; but even the parts left only in outline are not schematic, instead they are careful reconstructions true to Nature as much as the material allowed it. This characteristic of Suess' illustrations is seen also in his later field sketches concerning stratigraphy and structural geology and also in his depiction of the large tectonic features of our globe representing a guide to his manner of thinking. His illustrations in his early palaeontological work foreshadowed the later global geologist's approach to our planet (and the Moon!) as a whole.