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Unfeathered for All the World to See

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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One of the most astonishing illustrated books to come out this year is the work of Katrina van Grouw, an ornithologist and fine artist who counts taxidermy among her eclectic skills. The book, titled The Unfeathered Bird, is described as no less than her lifetime’s ambition and leafing through its pages, it’s easy to see why. It contains 385 drawings of 200 species of birds, dissected to various degrees and posed in life-like positions to give a more thorough understanding of how their anatomy is used in life.

The result is not unlike the popular BodyWorlds exhibits; her exhaustive knowledge of function and form is communicated in through artfully executed dissections and drawings. In describing the years of work that went into collecting, dissecting, posing and drawing the specimens, van Grouw has more than a few humorous stories about filling friends’ freezers with dead birds, and there is much to learn from the text about the many adaptations that make the species she highlights unique.

The Unfeathered Bird (2013, Princeton University Press)

Katrina van Grouw’s website

from Katrina van Grouw's "The Unfeathered Bird"

Skeleton and muscles of a Pouter or Cropper domesticated pigeon. From Katrina van Grouw's "The Unfeathered Bird"

Every day in the month of September, we are serving up a different science artist for your viewing pleasure. Can’t get enough? Check out what was featured on this day last year: Hallucigenia in metal by Darrell Markewitz

Kalliopi Monoyios About the Author: Kalliopi Monoyios is an independent science illustrator. She has illustrated several popular science books including Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish and The Universe Within, and Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True. Find her at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. Bora Zivkovic 8:11 pm 09/19/2013

    I have the book and I love, love, love it!

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  2. 2. 12:37 am 09/21/2013

    Cool, Bora! It is astonishingly beautiful, I agree :)

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  3. 3. Glendon Mellow 5:23 pm 09/21/2013

    This book is simply marvellous. I feel like I’m tramping through an 18th century curiosity parlour half the time, and the sketch book of an illustration-master. The latter feeling is completely correct, of course.

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