Dating Fossils in the Rocks

Dating Fossils in the Rocks

I had the pleasure of working with Sean O’Connor at National Geographic Education on an illustration to show the geologic stratigraphy of the Lake Turkana area. It is one of several educational materials to help supplement a film called Bones of Turkana on PBS, The film is about the work people do in the Lake Turkana region of Kenya with a focus on the Leakey family. I was asked to focus on the Koobi Fora Formation and the idea that geology is used to date fossils and reconstruct past environments.

I started by learning all about the Lake Turkana area through published research papers supplied to me by Sean, books, and credible websitesI found more relevant research papers to help me on my own and was happy to receive even more from the people at HERC in Berkeley when I visited them.  It took me a while to sift through the heavy information and extract the important stuff that I needed. I talked back and forth with Sean about what should be included and what the focus should be on. The initial sketch and the final illustration ended up looking very different.

To create the illustrations I used graphite on Bristol and then colorized them in Adobe Photoshop.  


Later they were placed into an Illustrator document. I then added text, leader lines, simple shapes and arrows.  I also used Illustrator to create a locator map.

view detail here

The source material for the cutaways, map and landscape was within the research papers. For fossil reference I visited Dr. Tim White at HERC to view the fossils casts in their collection. I based the shape of my illustrations on photos that I took of the fossil casts but I based the color of the fossil illustrations on photo reference of the actual fossils. All of the content in this illustration was double checked by field experts working with National Geographic Education.

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