the mystic beast

2015, oil, 50"h x 62"w

52. The Mystic Beast 50x62 Z.S.L. copy.j

Long ago, American Indian people noticed the fossil bones of prehistoric animals such as dinosaurs and mammoths. The Indians feared them, thinking they belonged to underground animals that caused earthquakes when they ran. In 1833, a Cree man affirmed he had found an entire skeleton of a colossal serpent and brought its tooth to Fort Union.

The German explorer and naturalist Prince Maximilian was there at the time, and he recognized the tooth as belonging to a mastodon. This painting depicts a group of Cree men who are intrigued by their discovery of a mastodon fossil near Milk River.