Facts can lie. An ‘entirely accurate’ photograph can still be a falsehood. Science can be fiction.
In the famous final “tangled bank” paragraph of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin writes of nature’s “elaborately constructed” creatures. He marvels at how natural selection produces “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful.” Among the elaborate constructions are appealing peculiarities such as the hammerhead salmander, Diplocaulus magnicornis, shown in this widely circulated photograph.
The hammerhead salamander is a real creature, but it lived more than 250 million years ago. The extinct amphibian lived in North America and Africa in the Late Carboniferous to Permian (306 to 255 million years ago). Various species reached up to a meter in length. This photograph shows a scientifically accurate model by Osaka-based master model-maker Goro Furuta. This model —and the photograph of it—is wholly manufactured, but it also timeshifted Diplocaulus magnicornis from the Permian to humanity’s brief moment.