Geoparks Africa
World Heritage Sites

Big Fight at Olduvai Gorge: How American artist captured Mortal Combat Scene dating back 2.5 Million Years ago

An immortal painting by the American artist, Jay Howard Matternes has come up with a prehistoric scene depicting how life could have been at the Olduvai Gorge site in Northern Tanzania, some 2.5 million years ago.

Jay Matternes has used his imagination to reproduce a scene featuring two male Australopithecus hunters armed with stone tools in a mortal combat against a gang of Nutcracker creatures.

Well at least, they happened to have stumbled across a large band of Paranthropus and the encounter resulted into some rather volatile results.

The Paranthropus Boisei species, which was nicknamed Nutcracker Man, was known for its big teeth and strong chewing muscles.

In the time-travel painting the males are seen howling and threaten their nemeses with heavy rocks.

On the other hand, the females retreat to safety taking their little ones with them.

Apparently as one commenters stated; ‘It was not the nicest way to spend Mother’s Day!’

The Artwork featuring Olduvai fight scene was drawn by Jay Matternes specifically for the Time Life Nature Library volume called the ‘Early Man!’

Jay Howard Matternes is an American painter, who specializes in a genre called ‘Paleoart,’ thus making him a Paleoartist.

He is also a naturalist, with most of his works recreating early mammals from the Oligocene, Miocene, and Pliocene epochs.

His paintings were widely published in the 1950s and ’60s, including in the Time Life Books series

Now Matternes managed to bring to life a Neolithic scenario which could have occurred at one of the most important paleoanthropological localities in the world; the Olduvai.

But that is not the only work which Matternes did on Olduvai.

The American artist also illustrated the cover of the popular book known as ‘Lucy’s Child!’

In the book two famed palaeontologists; Donald Johanson and James Shreeve describe their latest find at Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge, a two million-year-old elbow bone, a discovery that raises questions about humankind’s evolution.

Located in the Northern Tanzanian Region of Arusha, Olduvai forms an important component of the Ngorongoro-Lengai Geopark.

The Geological location full of fossils remains the world best portal into the past lives and history of mankind.

The gorge stretching over 48 kilometers and its surrounding locations, punctuated with an on-site museum, have proven invaluable in discovery, advancing and understanding of early human evolution.

The steep-sided ravine which falls along the Great Rift Valley is the biggest selling point of both the Olduvai and the Lengai Geopark.