The April 2016 issue of Scientific American peers into the distant past of natural organisms (including the human one) with the help of electron microscopes, computer modeling, DNA comparisons of living species and even magnetic resonance images of brains of modern researchers as they learn the ancient art of flint knapping. A century ago in 1916 the science of natural history was just learning how to use tools such as the camera, glass models, artists’ reconstructions, and studying whatever living or dead specimens they could find. In this slide show are some images from the frontiers of the science of natural history from 100 years ago.

You can find much more on the history of natural history by excavating articles from the Scientific American Archive at scientificamerican.com/magazine/sa