“Honorable mention” at “Premio Italiano di Paleoarte” 2022, Montevarchi.

The underworld in many cultures is a place of sorrow and desolation, where the souls of the dead wander suffering.

Apparently this concept and this scenario could seem very distant from paleontology and paleoart.
In some cases though, studying some circumstances of death and fossilization can remind us of the concept of the underworld, or as it was called in latin “Infernum”.

This is the case of the fossil site know as Bolt’s Farm, in South Africa.
The Pit 23 of Bolt’s Farm is what is know in paleontology as “Cave Traps”. A Cave Trap is a natural cave (usually vertical or semi-vertical) where animals enter to find shelter or attracted by carcasses (or they fall by chance) and they get trapped there, because they can’t leave.

In the Pit 23, three skeletons of Dinofelis barlowi and a dozen of Papio robinsoni, plus the ones of other primates, have been found, locked in time, trapped in the hell of a cave trap.

Being trapped in such natural caves must have been a dramatic experience.
Animal would have died out of starvation, or killed by the bigger predators they were forced by the circumstances to share the narrow chamber.

In the scene, one of the baboons have been killed and slaughtered by the hungry Dinofelis. The other baboon is eating an Agama lizard as it was a sandwich. One of the few food resources available in the cave. But it won’t save the baboon from death.

The Dinofelis is manaced by a spitting cobra, in defensive posture, also trapped with the other animals.

This terrible scene is what a viewer could observe inside a cave trap, during the last moments of those poor “souls” imprisoned in that Infernum.

I’ve had the pleasure to participate with this paiting to the second edition of the Paleoart Prize of @museopaleontologicomontevarchi, and had the honor to be awarded as “Honorable mention”.


Year: 2022

Client: Simone Zoccante

Featured: Premio Italiano Paleoarte Montevarchi 2022

Software: Adobe Photoshop

Dimension (for Print): 121,2 x 86 cm @ 300dpi

Dimension (in Pixel): 14315 x 10164 px

If you’re interested in commissioning me a similar painting or to buy the licensing rights of this artwork, feel free to contact me at Thank you.

If you are interested in using this image for your projects and works you can contact me and we can discuss about licensing.

All images Β© Simone Zoccante 2018-2023. Please do not reproduce without the expressed written consent of Simone Zoccante.