The golden age of life on Earth ended ~65 million years ago with the dinosaurs. Our own technological culture represents another peak of sorts. Nevertheless, it will be many ages to come before life will attain anything like its former glory.
The Smilodon is my favorite large predatory mammal of the post-dinosaur age; highly evolved, powerful and top of the food chain. No wonder it's so inspiring and so popular.
Sad indeed that it is lost to extinction.
This is an extraordinarily beautiful miniature bronze skeleton by Nelson Maniscalco. The first mammalian animal in my collection, it is now one of my most treasured posessions.
I first saw an example years ago in the shop window of Maxilla and Mandible in New York (sadly, now closed). Although I couldn't afford it at the time I regretted not purchasing it all the same. Of all Nelson's work, is the sculpture that I have most wanted to own. In 2012 I finally secured a copy.
Normally, the sternum is a single track of small bones hanging in isolation under the thorax. At my request, Nelson fabricated a thorax assembly (or "gastralia basket"). A complex addition to make but I think it really finishes the skeleton.
The sculpture is relatively small but it has tremendous presence and subtlety. The bones are beautifully detailed and accurate. Such a different body plan to dinosaurs makes a wonderful contrast.
Nelson sent me this photo of my bronze nearing completion in his workshop. Notice the original sternum (mounted) and the custom wax thorax assembly replacement (on the right and yet to be cast and welded into place). Interesting to see raw cast parts in the parts bin behind the bronze. They look like a lot of work to clean and prepare.