Thursday, November 29, 2012

Unicorn Fish of Tuscany (21)

"Unicorn Fish of Tuscany (21)", 36x36 in. (91.4x 91.4 cm), oil on canvas. For sale on Etsy.
In case you've never heard of them, unicorn fish are real. I didn't just make them up. I hadn't heard of them before I started this painting. I'd heard of some fish in the same genus, Naso, such as the tangs, but I don't remember ever seeing these fish with long horns on their foreheads. 

This painting began as a search for prehistoric life in Italy. I randomly selected this topic from a list. My research led me to a fossil of Naso rectifrons, a unicorn fish from the Late Eocene epoch, about 34 million years ago. It was discovered at Monte Bolca, in northern Italy. Monte Bolca is a good source of fossils. It's located in the Veneto region of Italy, not Tuscany. However, if you look at a map of the world during the Eocene, pretty much all of what is now Italy was underwater back then, so it's probably safe to say that unicorn fish swam over prehistoric Tuscany as well. (Tuscany Red is color #21 in the Colorscape book that I used as a prompt for this and several other paintings.)

So, is this a picture of the distant past, or of the future if we're not careful? Naso are presently found in tropical areas of the world, living in coral reefs. If climate change trends continue, Tuscany might end up beneath a warm sea once more.

11-29-12. A school of barracuda.