Zdeněk Burian (1905-1981)

I’ve wondered if Ray Harryhausen based his wonderful animated Phororhacus bird from Mysterious Island (1961) on this brilliant render by Czech illustrator Zdeněk Burian.  This plate appears in Prehistoric Animals (1957, Dr. Joseph Augusta and Zdeněk Burian, Spring Book, London). I looked at the book so many times as a kid my dad stashed it away in fear of me wearing it out.

Mr. Harryhausen’s bird looks a lot like it, down to the crest, hooked beak and nasal shield.

Burian sketched and painted prehistoric creatures in dynamic settings.  His work brought life to the animals.  Here are a few more plates.

And my favorite…

You can read more about Burian here:


2 Responses to “Zdeněk Burian (1905-1981)”

  1. Uncanny resemblance between the Harryhausen animation and the bird in the science book. Has science discovered any more about this bird since 1957, or is this still what the bird is believed to have looked like?

    • Bird is known from fossils in Argentina as I recall. I’ll see what I can find. Maybe the fossil remains show skull in detail. I assumed Burian took artistic liberties, but the fossil remains may be detailed.

      Sent from Barry’s iPhone 4

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