T. rexes and other dinosaur skeletons look almost alive in a new set of remarkable photos
- Photographer Christian Voigt travels to museums in Europe to take photographs of extinct dinosaurs, mastodons, and saber-toothed cats.
- Voigt uses a black cloth backdrop and natural light to capture each skeleton individually and in detail.
- His goal is to "bring these creatures back to life" through his photography, Voigt said.
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Traveling back in time to the age of the dinosaurs is beyond the reach of
Voigt has traveled to five natural history museums across Europe to photograph dinosaurs and other extinct animals' skeletons, producing a collection of images that depict these long-dead creatures in a new light.
"I sought to really bring these animals to life," Voigt told Business Insider, adding, "I have to remind people that these aren't Hollywood images, but rather real animals that lived millions of years ago."
But photographing museum specimens presents unique challenges for a photographer, since the skeletons cannot be shifted, posed, or removed from their display cases. Museums also restrict the use of additional lightning, so Voigt photographs the dinosaurs using only natural light and relies on a black back-drop to separate each animal from its neighbors.
"I can't touch them, or ask them to move a little to left, so I have to look for the best angle," he said.
Voigt said he was inspired to work with dinosaur skeletons after a visit to the Natural History Museum in London some years ago. Seeing the displays made him want to photograph each specimen individually.
"It all started with wanting to bring these animals out of their glass boxes," he said. "In a museum, when you look at certain collections of animals and skeletons, they're always very packed together."
He said he sometimes spends an hour finding and capture a single, ideal shot. The resulting images reveal every groove, divot, and eye socket of the skeletal bodies of creatures like the triceratops, T. rex, and stegosaurus.
Here are 15 breath-taking images from Voigt's collection.
This Tyrannosaurus rex resides in the Senckenberg Naturmuseum in Frankfurt, Germany.
Voigt only photographs original fossils, not replicas or reconstructions that use plastic or plaster to fill in gaps. "I can see the difference, and I won't use those skeletons," he said.
Tristan, a T. rex whose skull resides in the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, Germany, boasts impressive teeth. "I'm absolutely in love with details," Voigt said. "That's a big part of my work."
The 8-foot-long, 180-pound Dysalotosaurus Lettowvorbecki, whose name means "uncatchable lizard," dined on plants.
Voigt said he chooses to photograph lesser known dinos, like the Dysalotosaurus, on purpose.
But the crowning jewel of Voigt's collection might be this saber-toothed cat from the Senckenberg Naturmuseum in Frankfurt, Germany.
That wasn't Voigt's favorite creature, however. He said his most beloved dinosaur is the Triceratops in the Senckenberg Naturmuseum in Frankfurt, Germany.
Stygimoloch Spinifer, known as the "spiny river devil," is another one of Voigt's favorites. "Its head looks really like a dragon," he said.
Voigt's photos don't focus solely on dinosaurs, though. This picture shows "Dracula", the largest pterosaur ever found. The flying reptile had a neck as wide as a full-grown man.
Voigt also put an American mastodon (a distant relative of the modern elephant) in the spotlight. The creature weighed 6 tons and went extinct 10,000 years ago in North America.
Gomphotherium angustidens, whose name means "welded beast," is also an elephant relative.
Ultimately, Voigt said he's still waiting for a few "dream" photo opportunities at the Chicago Field Museum and the American Museum of Natural History in New York to complete his collection.
The Kentrosaurus aethiopicus had similar back plates. The animal these bones belonged to would have weighed more than 2 tons.
Voigt said he wishes more people knew about dinosaurs from visits to museums, rather than from watching Hollywood movies.
He said the experience of photographing dinosaurs, including this Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis in London's Natural History Museum, has led him to think more about humanity's relationship with extinct creatures.
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