16th century Morsus aka Walrus... or what was it?

KorbenDallas

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This is the second and less famous of Waldseemüller’s two great world maps; the lone surviving copy of his first, on which we see the word America first written, was bought for $10 million in 2001 by the Library of Congress. This detail depicts an odd elephant-like creature in the Arctic Ocean off of Scandinavia, possibly engraved by the artist Albrecht Dürer. The Latin text explains that this is the abode of the “morsus,” a strange animal with “large, quadrangular teeth.”
Obviously it is being explained in the normal "artist was stupid" way - "In other words, this was the artist’s conception of a walrus, based on secondhand descriptions from sailors. In most of Europe at the time, real-life creatures like walruses, giraffes, and rhinoceroses would have seemed just as fantastic as any sea serpent or dragon."

Wiki explanation for the name of Morsus:
  • The archaic English word for walrus—morse—is widely thought to have come from the Slavic languages, which in turn borrowed it from Finno-Ugric languages. Compare морж (morž) in Russian, mursu in Finnish, morša in Northern Saami, and morse in French. Olaus Magnus, who depicted the walrus in the Carta Marina in 1539, first referred to the walrus as the ros marus, probably a Latinization of morž, and this was adopted by Linnaeus in his binomial nomenclature.
  • The coincidental similarity between morse and the Latin word morsus ("a bite") supposedly contributed to the walrus's reputation as a "terrible monster".
KD: Appears we could have this extinct animal which was called "Morsus" living back in the 16th century. Today we are being explained that some creative cartographer made up the looks of an animal he had never seen, but... knew its name. There is nothing new in this approach.
 

milhaus

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Reminds me of a baby triceratops. But is that a beak or wolf snout? I think it is definitely a beak.
And what is with the warthog-like tusks? For a while I was also thinking it was something in its mouth. As if it was domesticated and has like a horse bridle type thing on its head. But just look how the top part of the mouth comes down from the top of its head.

It has to be from the same batch as the platypus.
platypus.jpg

And then like the details in the drawing makes me think there is no way the guy drew that and the sailors were like, "yeah...close enough".

I almost think this is just so people don't notice how weird a walrus actually is. I think it would have been more unsettling if he actually drew this.

.jpg
 

milhaus

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Okay, I looked up some of his other etchings that had animals in them so maybe this will be useful to compare his style

09_The_Deformed_Landser_Sow.jpg
30_St_Eustace.jpg
800px-10_The_Prodigal_Son.jpg
800px-Saint_Jerome_in_his_Study.jpg

I actually kind of like his work. He's like the first comic book artist.
Also, I am not convinced he was the one that drew the Morsus but it could be. The Morsus has a similar cartoonish look.

800px-37_Coat_of_Arms_with_Lion_and_Rooster.jpg

800px-St_Jerome_Penitent_in_the_Wilderness_-_Rijksmuseum.jpg


I know, kind of difficult to compare an etching on a map with engravings.

larger.jpg
 

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Paracelsus

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Yeah, Dürer and Piranesi were incontrovertible masters, what the eye saw the hand painted, or sketched. There might be some artistic license or interperative exaggeration, but maybe not. As the naturalist for an expedition, if the subject matter is fantastic, so is the sketch.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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Those two were no individuals. Tesla could probably be added to the bunch. Trade marks, or chosen prophets?

After all Mr. Walt Disney is still making movies.
 

milhaus

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Who is putting their autograph on the Morsus, is it Dürer?
If he did, the confusion must have been cleared up later.
walrusdurer1.png
This his how the bottom link in the OP explains it:

Tusked amphibious beasts, that may or may not have been based on walruses, existed in various sixteenth-century scholarly works. Some of these harked back to classical authorities: Pliny had described a “sea-elephant”, with which the Arctic beast sometimes became identified. Disentangling circumstantial similarity and actual representation is not easy. The elephant-like “morsus” represented on the 1516 world map of Martin Waldseemüller, was most probably the result of such confusing names and a mainland trade of mammoth teeth through Russia.
 

Paracelsus

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If he did, the confusion must have been cleared up later.
This his how the bottom link in the OP explains it:

Tusked amphibious beasts, that may or may not have been based on walruses, existed in various sixteenth-century scholarly works. Some of these harked back to classical authorities: Pliny had described a “sea-elephant”, with which the Arctic beast sometimes became identified. Disentangling circumstantial similarity and actual representation is not easy. The elephant-like “morsus” represented on the 1516 world map of Martin Waldseemüller, was most probably the result of such confusing names and a mainland trade of mammoth teeth through Russia.
Now that's a walrus!

The Waldenseemüler Map is something else entirely.
 

BrokenAgate

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Okay, I looked up some of his other etchings that had animals in them so maybe this will be useful to compare his style
He seems to have been quite accurate with his other drawings, so if he drew the map, then I'd say he fairly accurately depicted whatever animal that is supposed to be. Some extinct pachyderm?
 

BrokenAgate

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People keep drawing elephants wrong. The tusks come out of the upper jaw, not the lower.
 

AnthroposRex

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The Deformed Lanser Sow is really interesting. There are not only single legs with hooves coming out of the backs of each, there are two of them. Is this mutation or genetic manipulation gone wrong? 09_The_Deformed_Landser_Sow.jpg
 
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