12 Awesome Vintage Anatomical Illustrations of Animals

Get a look at what makes animals work with these gorgeous vintage anatomical illustrations.

1. Phormosoma indicum

These illustrations of a sea urchin appeared in the 1906 book Anatomie der Echinothuriden; the creature's outer layers appear to have been peeled away to reveal its inner workings. Volume 34 of Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy at Harvard College notes that "the color of this species is rather variable, ranging from yellow to dark brown, lighter above than below, and often with a reddish tinge." This species, and several others, are now included under the umbrella of Phormosoma placenta.

2. Cat Brain

As you might guess from its title, the 1882 book Anatomical technology as applied to the domestic cat tells you more than you could ever possibly want to know about the inner workings of felines. But though it might have shown you what a cat's brain looked like, it still couldn't tell you what was going on inside of it.

3. Green Frog

This gorgeous engraving appeared in Rösel von Rosenhof's Historia naturalis ranarum nostratium, which was devoted entirely to frogs and was published between 1753 and 1758. There are many species of green frog; this one might be of the genus Pelophylax, which is comprised of 25 species from Europe and Asia.

4. Xylocopa violacea

Xylocopa violacea, or the violet carpenter bee, is one of the largest bees in Europe. The illustration on the left, which appeared in the 1896 edition of Faune de France, shows the insect's head and mouthparts.

5. Eledone moschata

It's hard to tell from this illustration, which appeared in the 1890 book Atlas d'anatomie comparée des invertébrés, that what you're looking at is actually an octopus—the musky octopus, to be exact. The mollusk lives in the Mediterranean Sea.

6. Bat

This spooky-but-beautiful drawing of a bat's skeleton comes from Eduard Alton and Christian Heinrich Pander's 1821 book Die vergleichende Osteologie.

7. Anglerfish

I can't find any information about where this illustration—which appears to show three different species of female anglerfish—first appeared, or who drew it, but you can buy it for your wall right here. There are more than 200 species of anglerfish; to mate, the males latch on to the females and eventually fuse onto their bodies, providing sperm whenever she's ready to spawn.

8. Limulus polyphemus

You know Limulus polyphemus as an Atlantic horseshoe crab, but it's actually more closely related to arachnids than to crustaceans; the creatures, which have blue blood, are also captured and bled for biomedical purposes. This illustration is also from Atlas d'anatomie comparée des invertébrés; according to a translation of the text, Figure 2 shows a "Limulus whose dorsal integument have [been] removed to expose the heart and main arterial trunks dorsal."

9. Salamander

This flayed salamander appeared in the 1802 book Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, des reptiles.

11. Horse Head

Much better than waking up to find a horse head in your bed is to examine this illustration, drawn by medical illustrator Hermann Dittrich, which details the musculature, bones, and ear mechanics of an equine. It appeared in Handbuch der Anatomie der Tiere für Künstler, which was published in 1898 and 1911 through 1925.

12. Turtle

This scary turtle illustration—which appears to show the animal's musculature, in addition to an empty shell—comes from the 1819 book Anatome testudinis Europaeae.

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8 Pro Tips for Taking Incredible Pictures of Your Pets

Thanks to the internet, owning a photogenic pet is now a viable career option. Just ask Theron Humphrey, dog-dad to Maddie the coonhound and the photographer behind the Instagram account This Wild Idea. He gained online fame by traveling across the country and sharing photographs of his dog along the way. But Maddie’s impressive modeling skills aren’t the only key to his success; Humphrey has also mastered some essential photography tricks that even the most casual smartphone photographer can use to make their pet look like a social media star.


Based on her Instagram presence, you’d guess Maddie is either in the middle of a road trip or a scenic hike at any given time. That’s no accident: At a pet photography workshop hosted by Adobe, Humphrey said he often goes out of his way to get that perfect shot. “You need to keep situating yourself in circumstances to continue making great work,” he said, “even if that means burning a tank of gas and going someplace you’ve never been.”


Dog and owner on a couch.

That being said, it’s important to know your pet’s limits. Is your dog afraid of flying? Then leave him with a pet sitter when you vacation abroad. Does your cat hate the water? Resist the temptation to bring her into the kayak with you on your next camping trip, even if it would make for an adorable photo opportunity. “One thing I think is important with animals is to operate within the parameters they exist in,” Humphrey said. “Don’t go too far outside their comfort zone.”


Not every winning pet photo is the result of a hefty travel budget. You can take professional-looking pictures of your pet at home, as long as you know how to work with the space you’re in. Humphrey recommends looking at every element of the scene you’re shooting in and asking what can be changed. Don’t be shy about moving furniture, adjusting the blinds to achieve the perfect lighting, or changing into a weird outfit that will make your pup’s eyes pop.


Two dogs in outfits.

Ella and Coconut Bean.

Trying to capture glamorous photos of a moving, barking target is a hard job. It’s much easier when you have a human companion to assist you. Another set of hands can hold the camera when you want to be in the picture with your pet, or hold a toy or treat to get your dog’s attention. At the very least, they can take your pet away for a 10-minute play session when you need a break.


The advent of digital cameras, including the kind in your smartphone, was a game-changer for pet photographers. Gone are the days when you needed to be picky about your shots to conserve film. Just set your shutter to burst mode and let your camera do the work capturing every subtle blep and mlem your pet makes. Chances are you’ll have plenty of standout shots on your camera roll from which to choose. From there, your hardest job will be “culling” them, as Humphrey says. He recommends uploading them to a photo organizing app like Adobe Lightroom and reviewing your work in two rounds: The first is for flagging any photo that catches your eye, and the second is for narrowing down that pool into an even smaller group of photos you want to publish. Even then, deciding between two shots taken a fraction of a second apart can be tricky. “When photos are too similar, check the focus,” he said. “That’s often the deciding factor.”


When it comes to capturing the perfect pet photo, an expensive camera is often less important than your cat’s favorite feather toy. The most memorable images often include pets that are engaging with the camera. In order to get your pet to look where you want it to, make sure you're holding something your pet will find interesting in your free hand. If your pet perks up at anything that makes noise, find a squeaky toy. If they’re motivated by food, use their favorite treat to get their attention. Don’t forget to reward them with the treat or the toy after they sit for the photo—that way they’ll know to repeat the behavior next time.


Person with hat taking photo of dog and dog food.

According to Humphrey, your pet’s eye should be the focus of most shots you take. In some cases, you may need to do more to make your pet the focal point of the image, even if that means removing your face from the frame altogether. “If there’s a human in the photo, you want to make them anonymous,” Humphrey said. That means incorporating your hands, legs, or torso into a shot without making yourself the star.


This is the mantra Theron Humphrey repeated throughout his workshop. You can scout out the perfect location and find the perfect accessories, but when you’re shooting with animals you have no choice but to leave room for flexibility. “You have to learn to roll with the mistakes,” Humphrey said. What feels like a hyperactive dog ruining your shot in the moment might turn out to be social media gold when it ends up online.


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