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A Celebration of Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species An Exhibition of Rare Books from the History of Science Collection Linda Hall Library William B. Ashworth, Jr. Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology Kansas City, Missouri

2009


An exhibition at the Linda Hall Library, October 1, 2009 – March 27, 2010 The exhibition is made possible by a generous grant from the Victor E. Speas Foundation, Bank of America, Trustee Catalog text by William B. Ashworth, Jr. Exhibition preparation and installation by Bruce Bradley, Cynthia Rogers, and Nancy Officer Photography by Sally Crosson and the Digital Projects Department Catalog design by Michael Irvin Cover illustration from John James Audubon, The Birds of America, 1844-48. Titlepage illustration from John Gould, The Mammals of Australia, 1863. Illustration on p. 3 from Johann Baptist von Spix, Selecta genera et species piscium, 1829-31. Illustration on p. 89 from Edward Forbes, A History of British Starfishes, 1841. ISBN 978-0-9763590-5-0 Š 2009 Linda Hall Library

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Darwin and the Grandeur of Life: An Introduction

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harles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809. When he was fifty years old, in 1859, he published On the Origin of Species, a book destined to radically change our view of the living world. In 2009, we celebrate both the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his great work.

(1551-58), Carl Linnaeus, who successfully sorted out the plant and animal kingdoms with his influential taxonomic System of Nature (1735), Joseph Banks, who sought new species in the south seas on the first voyage of Captain Cook (1768-71), and Jean Lamarck, who made the study of invertebrates a respectable branch of zoology (1801).

Darwin began his scientific career as a naturalist, as someone who collected plant and animal specimens, studied and recorded the details of their structures, and attempted to identify and classify them. He thus worked within a framework that was known as natural history. Natural history had a venerable pedigree, with its roots in Aristotle, but it especially flourished and matured in the four centuries before the Origin of Species. Darwin was the direct heir of naturalists like Konrad Gesner, who published the first illustrated encyclopedia of zoology

We choose to honor Darwin, therefore, by showcasing the tradition out of which he himself evolved. Fortunately, for exhibition purposes, the works we have chosen to display are not only important intellectually, but are also some of the most beautiful books ever published. “There is grandeur in this view of life,” Darwin remarked in the last sentence of the Origin of Species. We hope our exhibition captures some of the grandeur of life, and of Darwin’s great achievement.

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Darwin’s Rhea, from Charles Darwin, The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, Part 3: Birds, 1841 (see item 49).


Contents I The Rebirth of Natural History, 1485-1700..............................................................................6 II Ordering the Natural World, 1700-1810...............................................................................16 III In Search of New Species, 1760-1840..................................................................................28 IV Seeking Out Invertebrates, 1750-1860.................................................................................36 V The Grandeur of Nature, 1800-1860......................................................................................46 VI The Meaning of Fossils, 1720-1860......................................................................................56 VII The Education of Charles Darwin, 1809-1844...................................................................66 VIII The Road to the Origin of Species, 1844-1859....................................................................76 Suggested Reading......................................................................................................................86 Index...........................................................................................................................................87

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he study of nature flourished in the ancient world. Aristotle described and classified a wide assortment of animals, and physicians such as Dioscorides determined the medicinal properties of plants and provided accurate illustrations. In the medieval period, the interest in nature continued, but it was no longer pursued firsthand. Instead, ancient authors were annotated and bequeathed to further annotators, and images were copied from earlier images, rather than being drawn from life. In the Renaissance period, for rather complex reasons, the ancient texts continued to be authoritative, but there arose a belief that animals and plants should be studied and drawn from nature. So, in some of the earliest printed books, we find classical texts combined with new images, producing an uneasy tension. Gradually, the images took precedence, and the ancient texts were replaced by modern observations that fit the images. With the discovery of New World flora and fauna that had no classical source, the transformation was complete. By 1700, natural history has been firmly re-established as a legitimate branch of scientific inquiry.

Chapter One

1485­–1700 Linda Hall Library

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Lion, from Konrad Gesner, Historia Animalium, 1551 (see item 3).


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1 Der Gart der Gesundheit. Mainz: Peter Schoeffer, 1485. The herbal was a medieval invention, a guide book to medicinal plants and their therapeutic uses. The text was ultimately derived from Dioscorides’ De materia medica, and the illustrations were often crude copies from earlier images, so that the plants were often unrecognizable. When Peter Schoeffer printed his Garden of Health in vernacular German in 1485, he took the unusual step of including a number of new illustrations, drawn from life, including this attractive columbine. The color was added by hand, and rather crudely, as was typical in the early days of printing. Since some animal products, such as musk, ivory, and castor oil, had medicinal uses, Schoeffer included a small number of animals as well. This beaver, unlike the columbine, probably was not drawn from life. The contrast of the two images demonstrates the value of a return to first-hand observation of nature.

Above: Columbine, from Der Gart der Gesundheit, 1485. Right: Beaver, from Der Gart der Gesundheit, 1485.

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Right: Pasqueflower, from Otto Brunfels, Herbarum, 1530-32. Below: Narcissus, from Otto Brunfels, Herbarum, 1530-32.

2 Brunfels, Otto (1488-1534).

Herbarum Vivae Eicones ad Nature Imitationem. Strassburg: apud Joannem Schottu[m], 1530-1532. Brunfels’ Herbal, as this book is usually called, demarked a radical change in scientific illustration. The woodcuts were drawn from life, specifically for this book, by an artist named Hans Weiditz. Weiditz came out of the German naturalist school, which included Albrecht Dßrer and Hans Burgkmair, and his images are starkly realistic, even showing wormholes and withered leaves. The text written by Brunfels was in strong contrast to the woodcuts, being based entirely on classical authorities. Every subsequent herbal would have similar life-like images, and it did not take long for the authors to realize that the text should have a similar contemporary flavor, with observations drawn from life, just like the pictures. 9

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Left: Porcupine, from Konrad Gesner, Historia Animalium, 1551. Below: Fox, from Konrad Gesner, Historia Animalium, 1551.

For all his concern with accuracy of images, Gesner had little interest in classification, or taxonomy. He did put all the quadrupeds in one volume, which is an important taxonomic first step, but within the volume, the animals are simply arranged alphabetically, so that the ass, horse, and zebra lie nowhere near one another.

3 Gesner, Konrad (1516-1565).

Historia Animalium lib I. Zurich: apud Christ. Froschoverum, 1551. Gesner was really a scholar, not a naturalist, and the text of his History of Animals is drawn from a host of classical authorities, such as Aristotle, Pliny, and Oppian. But Gesner saw the value of illustrations that were drawn from nature, and he actively sought out the best images he could find for publication. His lion looks the part of the “king of quadrupeds,� as Gesner calls it (see introduction to this section), and the porcupine and the fox reproduced here are both realistic and attractive.

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Above: Columbine, from Der Gart der Gesundheit, 1485. Right: Beaver, from Der Gart der Gesundheit, 1485.

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Belon took pride in the fact that most of his images were drawn from life, and he stated this fact right in the title. His woodcut of the sole, with its two eyes looking right at you, was original with this book, as was the wonderful paper nautilus, sailing along on the high seas. It is not surprising that when Gesner later published the volume on aquatic animals for his natural history, he borrowed freely (and with full credit) from Belon’s works. Left: Sole, from Pierre Belon, De Aquatilibus, 1553. Below: Paper nautilus, from Pierre Belon, De Aquatilibus, 1553.

4 Belon, Pierre (1517?-1564). De Aquatilibus, Libri Duo cum Eiconibus ad Viuam Effigiem . . . Expressis. Paris: apud Carolum Stephanum, 1553. Pierre Belon was a physician of southern France who published a number of books on fish, birds, and other exotic animals. His volume on aquatic animals is unusual in its oblong format, which however seems quite suitable for displaying fish, which are generally oblong themselves. Belon was quite an admirer of Aristotle, but he held few other naturalists in high esteem, and so his books contain quite a bit of personal observation and description, which contrasts him with Gesner.

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5 Piso, Willem (1611-1678).

Historia naturalis Brasiliae. Leiden: apud F. Hackium; Amsterdam: apud L. Elzevirium, 1648. The Dutch established a settlement in Brazil in the 1630s, and several naturalists went along, including Willem Piso, a physician, and Georg Marcgraf, an astronomer and naturalist. Marcgraf made personal observations of the native Brazilian animals, and he commissioned drawings from the expedition artists. Although Marcgraf died on the return home, his descriptions and drawings were published by Piso in 1648. The animals illustrated and described in this volume include a howler monkey, a peccary, a capybara, a coati, and a great anteater (the last two reproduced here), and all these animals are being presented to the European community for the very first time. This book marks a turning point in natural history, for not only are the observations new and original, there are no classical authorities mentioned at all. Henceforth, natural history books will emphasize modern rather than ancient observations, will showcase the unfamiliar rather than the familiar, and will be forced to search for organizing principles that can accommodate New World as well as Old World animals.

Above: Great anteater, from Willem Piso, Historia naturalis Brasiliae, 1648. Below: Coati, from Willem Piso, Historia naturalis Brasiliae, 1648.

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6 Hooke, Robert (1635-1703). Micrographia; or, Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses. London: Printed by Jo. Martyn and Ja. Allestry, 1665. No one opened up a new world for naturalists quite like Robert Hooke. Hooke did not invent the microscope, nor was he the first to focus its lens on natural objects, but his Micrographia was without any doubt the publication that awakened the public to the fact that there was an entire new level of existence “down there.” With its large folding plates of a flea, a louse, and the eye of a fly, the book shook everyone’s belief that small things were necessarily simple. Readers were startled to learn that the waving forest of blooms shown in our first image were in fact the tendrils of common blue mold, and that the little hairy bear in the other figure was a dust mite, nearly invisible to the human eye. After Hooke, naturalists could no longer rely solely on the unaided human eye when they investigated the natural world.

Above: Blue mold, from Robert Hooke, Micrographia, 1665. Right: Mite, from Robert Hooke, Micrographia, 1665.

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Left: Chameleon, from Claude Perrault, Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire naturelle des animaux, 1676. Below: Porcupine, from Claude Perrault, Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire naturelle des animaux, 1676.

Louis XIV’s royal menagerie. Lions, bears, chameleons, porcupines — all were laid open by the academic scalpels. Perrault was wise enough to ensure that an artist recorded all they observed. In 1669, Perrault published a small volume with the results of their investigations of five animals, and in 1676 this gave rise to a large folio with plates and descriptions of more than 30 animals. Perrault called his volume, Memoirs for a Natural History, implying that the information contained therein was important not just for the anatomist, but for the naturalist. He was right; from this time forward, comparative anatomy became a vital tool for the classifying naturalist.

7 Perrault, Claude (1613-1688).

Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire naturelle des animaux. Paris: De l’Imprimerie Royale, 1676. Anatomy played only a small role in natural history before 1670. Most descriptions of animals paid little attention to their internal structure, and there were very few images in natural history encyclopedias that depicted skeletons or muscles. That changed with the establishment of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris in 1666. One of the original academicians, the physician Claude Perrault, organized regular sessions at which participants could dissect deceased animals from Linda Hall Library

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8 Tyson, Edward (1650-1708).

Orang-outang, sive Homo sylvestris. London: Printed for Thomas Bennet . . . and Daniel Brown, 1699. The suggestion that comparative anatomy could shed light on natural history bore immediate fruit in the work of Edward Tyson. Tyson produced shorter monographs on the anatomy of a Virginia opossum and a Mexican peccary before publishing his masterpiece, a book-length study on the anatomy of a chimpanzee. As the title indicates, there was considerable confusion at the time in the identity of the great apes — the chimpanzee had been observed but not studied, the orangutan was known only by rumor and by name, and the gorilla was completely unknown. Tyson demonstrated in considerable detail the close correspondence between human and ape anatomy. However, he did not see this as a sign of common descent. Rather, he marveled that a human and a chimpanzee could be so similar in structure and so different in character and intellect. The crucial difference, for Tyson, was that a chimpanzee lacked a voice, and a soul. Left: Chimpanzee skeleton, from Edward Tyson, Orang-outang, sive homo sylvestris, 1699. Right: Chimpanzee, from Edward Tyson, Orang-outang, sive homo sylvestris, 1699.

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Chapter Two

1700-1810

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n the eighteenth century, natural history acquired a sense of order that had been lacking in previous eras. Although earlier naturalists had developed various ways of organizing the world, there was no general agreement as to the best way to go about this. Most naturalists understood what is meant by a species, and to some extent a genus, but higher groupings were more controversial, and generally avoided. Nor was there any consistency in the naming of animals and plants. Encyclopedias like Gesner’s usually gave names in a variety of languages, such as German, French, Greek and Latin, and then proceeded to add a number of Latin modifiers, such as Indus, albus, ferox, hirsutus (Indian, white, wild, hairy) to identify the particular organism under discussion.

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By the year 1800, the situation had changed completely. Animals and plants had been given universally accepted binomial names, and they had natural places in the arrangement of nature. Credit for this goes primarily to Carl Linnaeus. Interestingly, not everyone agreed with the change in emphasis from description to taxonomy, and critics like Georges Buffon made eighteenth-century natural history a very lively discipline. Coupled with this spirit of system was the continued discovery of new species, which were then incorporated into the system. Both kinds of works, systematic and descriptive, are included in this section of the exhibition.

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Brooklime, from William Curtis, Flora Londenensis, 1777 (see item 10).


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9 Linné, Carl von (1777-1798). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species. — Ed. 10., reformata. Stockholm: impensis L. Salvii, 1758-1759. Carl Von Linné, known as Linnaeus, a Swedish physician and botanist, published the first edition of his System of Nature in 1735, when he was twenty-eight years old. In this seminal work of taxonomy, he divided all of nature into three kingdoms, animal, vegetable, and mineral, and then further divided each kingdom into classes, orders, genera, and species. So a gray wolf (the species) was placed by Linnaeus in the dog genus, the carnivore order, the mammal class, and the animal kingdom. In 1735, Linnaeus managed to schematize the entire animal kingdom on a single pair of pages, with the plants on another pair. By the time of the tenth edition, on display here, the two pages of animals had grown into an entire volume, with the plants in a second volume. Also by 1758, Linnaeus had settled on a naming system, whereby every animal and plant was to be uniquely identified by its generic and specific name, used together, so the gray fox is “officially” Canis lupus (a name it still holds). This system of binomial nomenclature, as it is now called, had an even more salutary effect on natural history than the new taxonomic system, as it enabled a field naturalist to discover, classify, and name a new species, virtually in one continuous process.

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10 Curtis, William (1746-1799).

Flora Londinensis. London: Printed for and sold by the author . . . and B. White, 1777-1798. Curtis was a London pharmacist who gave up his business to become demonstrator of plants at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London. He decided in 1775 to begin issuing a series of plates that illustrated all the native plants that one could find in London and the surrounding area. The numbers were issued 6 plates at a time, and in 1777, he gathered the first 144 plates into a volume. The process slowed, but by 1798, two more volumes had appeared, with 434 total plates (in our copy), when the project was finally abandoned, due to a dwindling of subscriptions. The plates are large, richly colored, and quite attractive. Although Curtis later recruited the aid of artists such as James Sowerby, the plates in volume 1 are mostly unsigned. The text that accompanies each plate makes it clear that Curtis subscribed to the new Linnaean classification system, as he provides the Linnaean genus, order, and class first, before giving the names used by other authors. Illustrated here are Convolvulus sepium, the Common Bindweed, and Veronica beccabunga, known in England as Brooklime.

Right: Bindweed, from William Curtis, Flora Londinensis, 1777.

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11 Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc, comte de (17071788).

would extend to 44 volumes and an atlas. As was traditional with such enterprises, he described each animal separately, and illustrated it with a new image. What was different about the Histoire naturelle was its organization. Buffon emphatically rejected the classificatory approach of Linnaeus. Buffon was more interested in the ecology of animals: how they interacted, how they differed from continent to continent, even to some extent how they came to be. He argued that it was more natural to discuss the horse along with the dog and cow, rather than with the zebra, because in nature, the horse, dog, and cow are found together.

Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière. Deux-Ponts: Sanson, 1785-1791 . Buffon was head of the royal botanical gardens and menagerie in Paris. In 1749, he published the first volumes of a new natural history, which, by the time it was finished after his death, Below: Jaguars, from Georges Buffon, Histoire naturelle, 1785-91. Below Right: Jocko, from Georges Buffon, Histoire naturelle, 1785-91.

One of Buffon’s more daring ideas was his proposal that New World animals had “degenerated” from old world forms, and were generally smaller and less hardy than European counterparts. Many American naturalists, including Thomas Jefferson, took great offense at this suggestion. In the edition we have on display, one of Buffon’s plates shows the European jaguar along with the smaller species of New Spain. One of Buffon’s illustrations depicts “Jocko”, purportedly a chimpanzee (Buffon had not seen Tyson’s work). Buffon also noted the existence of a larger ape in the East Indies, which he called “Pongo,” but which no scientist had yet seen.

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12 Catesby, Mark (1683-1749). The Natural History of Carolina, Florida & the Bahama Islands. London: Printed for Charles Marsh... Thomas Wilcox . . . Benjamin Stichall, 1754. Catesby was an English naturalist who took an early interest in the natural history of the southern American colonies. After an early foray to Virginia in 1712, he returned to what was called South Carolina in 1722, and he spent three years there sketching the animals and plants of the countryside. He then journeyed to the Bahamas, and then back to England, where he spent much of the rest of his life preparing his Far Left: Ivorybilled Woodpecker, from Mark Catesby, The Natural History of Carolina, 1754. Left: Southern Magnolia, from Mark Catesby, The Natural History of Carolina, 1754.

Natural History for publication. The first volume appeared in 1731, and the second in 1743; both were then reissued in 1754, which is the edition we display. Although Catesby considered himself a botanist, the book is more renowned for its illustrations of birds, nearly all of which Catesby drew and etched himself. We see here the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, perched on a willow. Several of the plates, however, were drawn by the noted artist George Ehret, including this one of the Southern Magnolia. Since Catesby’s book appeared while the Linnaean system was still being worked out, many of his names are no longer valid. However, in later editions of the System of Nature, Linnaeus did incorporate many of Catesby’s specimens and gave them an official stamp of approval. 21

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13 Rösel von Rosenhof, August Johann 1705-1759. Historia naturalis Ranarum nostratium. Nuremberg: Typis Johannis Josephi Fleischmanni, 1758.

Left: Frog, from August Rösel von Rosenhof, Historia naturalis Ranarum nostratium, 1758.

In the 1735 edition of his System of Nature, Linnaeus included one toad and three species of frogs: the tree frog, the aquatic frog, and the American bullfrog. Like many of Linnaeus’ groupings, this one was ripe for expansion. Rösel von Rosenhoff was a miniature painter who was introduced to natural history illustration while recuperating from an illness. Rösel immediately turned his attention to drawing butterflies and caterpillars. After publishing a book on insects, he then moved

Below: Frontispiece to August Rösel von Rosenhof, Historia naturalis Ranarum nostratium, 1758.

on to amphibians, and in 1758 there appeared the most sumptuous book ever published on amphibians, the Natural History of Frogs. It has twenty-four large plates, in pairs; one of each pair shows objects in outline, the other presents them in gorgeous color. Many of the plates are anatomical, with frogs and toads in various stages of dissection. Others show tadpoles and larval development. But several depict frogs in their natural habitats, such as the one reproduced here. The most attractive plate is the frontispiece, with a variety of amphibians on display, where Rösel’s skill as a miniature painter is most evident.

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14 Vosmaer, Arnout (1720-1799). Description d’un receuil exquis d’animaux rares. Amsterdam: Chez J. B. Elwe, 1804. Many authors of books on exotic animals never got very far from home. Arnout Vosmaer was in charge of the menagerie and the museum of William V, Prince of Orange. William actively imported animals from every continent for his museum at Voorburg; when the animals died, their remains became part of his natural history cabinet. Vosmaer published separate descriptions of many of these rare animals over a thirty year period, from 1767 to his death in 1799, after which, the individual issues were all gathered together and republished in this volume. The Cock-of-the-Rock had been brought to Holland from Surinam, and the Kudu antelope from South Africa. The young orangutan was imported live from Borneo in 1776 and was the first living specimen seen in Europe. It proved to be quite different from the “Pongo” that Buffon had discussed.

Above: Orangutan, from Arnout Vosmaer, Description d’un receuil exquis d’animaux rares, 1804. Right: Cock-of-the-Rock, from Arnout Vosmaer, Description d’un receuil exquis d’animaux rares, 1804. Far Right: Kudu, from Arnout Vosmaer, Description d’un receuil exquis d’animaux rares, 1804.

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15 Bewick, Thomas (1753-1828).

A History of British Birds. Newcastle: Printed by Edward Walker, for T. Bewick, 1809.

Below: King fisher, from Thomas Bewick, A History of British Birds, 1809.

Thomas Bewick was a new kind of naturalist: he was first and foremost an artist and a print-maker, and only secondarily a student of nature. He pioneered a new printing technique, known as wood engraving, where the artist works on the end grain of a block of wood, instead of the side grain, and uses the burin of the engraver, rather than the knife of the woodcutter, to carve the block. Wood engravings, from Bewick’s hand, were small but extremely detailed, and have the advantage over copper engravings in that they can be printed right along with the type, instead of on a separate press. In 1790, Bewick published A General History of Quadrupeds, and he followed this with A History of British Birds (1797-1804). We display a later and enlarged edition of the bird volumes.

Below Left: Barn owl, from Thomas Bewick, A History of British Birds, 1809.

Although Bewick was primarily a wood engraver, he had a great eye for birds, and his tiny images are full of charm and wit. His descriptions are short and to the point, and he usually told the reader where his specimens were obtained. He always provides the Linnaean name for each bird, but he often adds Buffon’s name as well. As an additional touch, Bewick sprinkled his works with tiny vignettes at the ends of chapters and sections that added considerably to the visual appeal of the volumes. Bewick showed that a book on the natural world did not have to be large and expensive to be useful, accurate, and attractive. Linda Hall Library

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16 Donovan, Edward (1768-1837). An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of India. London: T. Bensley, 1800. Donovan was another example of a stay-at-home naturalist who made a living publishing handsome books on exotic fauna. His Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of China (1798) was a great success, so in 1800, he launched a similar Epitome of the Insects of India. Donovan was not a field naturalist; rather, he collected specimens, assembled them in museums, and made his illustrations from his mounted specimens. But he fully subscribed to the Linnaean system, and all his specimens have Linnaean-style binomial names. What makes Donovan’s works so visually impressive is the coloring on the illustrations, which is applied so heavily that it is hard to tell there is an engraving underneath. This butterfly from Ambon, mounted on a Mimosa, well illustrates both the technique, and its visual success. The Scarab beetle was based on a specimen in the museum of the Queen of Sweden. Donovan unfortunately over-reached himself financially; in 1817, he had to close his museum and sell his collections, and he died penniless in 1837. Above Left: Scarab beetle, from Edward Donovan, An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of India, 1800. Left: Green Birdwing butterfly, on a Mimosa, from Edward Donovan, An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of India, 1800.

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17 Lamarck, Jean Baptiste (1744-1829). Philosophie zoologique, ou Exposition des considérations relative à l’histoire naturelle des animaux. Paris: Chez Dentu . . . ; l’auteur, 1809. Jean Baptiste Lamarck was a botanist who was recruited, at the ripe age of fifty, to become professor of invertebrate zoology at the newly established Museum of Natural History in Paris in 1793. Lamarck took the position that no one else wanted and made “Bugs and Worms” a respectable branch of zoology. He expanded the two Linnaean classes to ten, creating the new classes of mollusks, crustaceans, barnacles, and infusoria. While sorting these classes into a natural arrangement, it occurred to Lamarck that one species seemed to shade into another, starting with the most simple infusorial forms. One way to explain this graded order was by a gradual transformation of species over time. First in 1801, and then in more developed form in this 1809 work, Lamarck worked out the first scientific theory of evolution. His mechanism was the “inheritance of acquired characters”, whereby organisms change slightly during their lifetimes, modifying themselves to fit their environment. These changes are then passed on to their offspring. The classic example of Lamarckian evolution is the giraffe, which acquired its long neck, argued Lamarck, when its ancestors began to eat leaves from trees and slowly stretched out their necks over many generations. Lamarck thought all of life had evolved in this manner, and we see here the very first evolutionary diagram ever published, with infusoria at the top, fish and reptiles in the middle, and mammals at the bottom.

Right: Giraffe, from Georges Buffon, Histoire naturelle, 1785-91.

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Above: Table of the classes of animals, with ten classes of invertebrates, from Jean Baptiste Lamarck, Philosophie zoologique, 1809. Right: Diagram of evolutionary descent, from Jean Baptiste Lamarck, Philosophie zoologique, 1809.

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A

lthough a few individuals like Mark Catesby made trips to foreign lands in the early eighteenth century to collect native specimens, it was not until 1768, and the departure of James Cook’s ship, the Endeavour from England, that we begin to see official voyages of scientific exploration, sent out with the intent of discovering new species of animals and plants. Since Cook’s expedition took several naturalists and draftsmen, and since they were so successful in discovering hundreds of unknown plants and many new animal species, it became the norm for future voyages of exploration to take along the best available naturalists and artists. There were dozens of such voyages between Cook’s and the famous voyage of Darwin on the Beagle in 1831; we feature five narratives in this section and one more in the next section. As will be readily apparent, the official publications of the expeditions spared no expense in illustrating the fruits of these voyages.

Chapter Three

1760­–1840

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Natives of Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania), by Charles Lesueur, from François Péron, Voyage de découvertes aux terres Australes, 1807-16 (see item 19).


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18 Hawkesworth, John (1715?-1773).

An Account of the Voyages ...in the Southern Hemisphere. London: Printed for W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1773. The first voyage of James Cook was a watershed in the history of scientific exploration. The scientists on board were not naval officers, but civilians, led by Joseph Banks, a young and energetic botanist and member of the Royal Society of London. He recruited (and paid the salaries of) another botanist, an avid Linnaean named Daniel Solander, and a German naturalist, Herman SpÜring, as well as two artists. Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, left England in 1768, sailed around South America (observing the natives of Tierra del Fuego), proceeded on to Tahiti (to observe a transit of Venus across the sun) and then traveled on to the eastern coast of Australia, in 1770. The naturalists were quite busy in this new country; Banks himself collected nearly a thousand plants for his herbarium, and one of the artists, Sydney Parkinson, drew these as rapidly as they were collected. The crew became the first Europeans to observe a kangaroo, and several specimens were collected. Because Cook was considered (quite incorrectly) to be incapable of writing a literate narrative of the voyage, that task was turned over to John Hawkesworth, with mixed results. Fortunately, the illustrations speak for Cook much better than Hawkesworth did. Above: Kangaroo, by George Stubbs, from John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages...in the Southern Hemisphere, 1773. Left: Native Fuegians, by Giovanni Cipriani, based on a drawing by Alexander Buchan, from John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages...in the Southern Hemisphere, 1773.

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19 Péron, François (1775-1810).

Voyage de découvertes aux terres Australes ..., sur les corvettes le Géographe, le Naturaliste, et al goëlette la Casuarina, pendant les années 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803 et 1804. Paris: De L’Imprimerie impériale, 1807-16. In 1800, the French dispatched two ships, the Géographe and the Naturaliste, on a voyage of scientific exploration to New Holland, as Australia was called then. In command was Nicolas Baudin, a veteran of such voyages, and he took with him a crew of twenty-four naturalists, astronomers, and draftsmen. The voyage is often called “ill-fated,” because so many men died of scurvy and dysentery, including Baudin himself. François Péron was only an assistant naturalist when the ships departed, but by 1803, he was the only surviving zoologist on board. Péron bore up well under these new respon-

sibilities, and when he returned in 1804, he brought back not only some 100,000 specimens, but many live animals and plants (a number of which, like the Black Emus, ended up on the grounds of Malmaison, the chateau of Josephine, Napoleon’s wife). The principal artist was Charles Lesueur and he drew most of the animals; Nicolas-Martin Petit specialized in anthropological studies. Since Baudin did not survive the trip, Peron wrote the official account of the voyage, although he himself died before it could be completed. Above Right: Black Emu family, by Charles Lesueur, from François Péron, Voyage de découvertes aux terres Australes, 1807-16. Above: Banded Hare-Wallaby, by Charles Lesueur, from François Péron, Voyage de découvertes aux terres Australes, 1807-16.

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Right: Phalanger, or cuscus, by A. Prevost, from Louis de Freycinet, Voyage autour du monde, 1824-44. Below: Turbot, by Pierre Oudart after Adrien Taunay, from Louis de Freycinet, Voyage autour du monde, 1824-44.

20 Freycinet, Louis Claude Desaulses de (1779-1842).

Voyage autour du monde ...exécuté sur les corvettes de S.M. l’Uranie et la Physicienne pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820. Paris: Imprimerie royale, 1824-1844. The stream of French voyages of exploration was interrupted by the Napoleonic wars, but in 1816, Louis Freycinet proposed a new circumnavigation of the globe. Freycinet had just completed Péron’s narrative of the Baudin expedition, after Péron died in 1811, and he was eager to continue what Baudin had begun. The French government gave its approval, and the Uranie departed in 1817, with Jean René Constant Quoy on board as surgeon and zoologist, assisted by Joseph Paul Gaimard. They sailed first to New Holland, then up through the East Indies to the Marianas, then to Hawaii, back to Australia, and finally on to South America. The phalanger, or cuscus, illustrated here, was picked up in Timor and later named after Quoy. The turbot was collected in South America. The Uranie was wrecked in the Falkland Islands on the return home, and many of the specimens were lost. Freycinet acquired an American ship, renamed it the Physicienne, and continued on to France, arriving back in November, 1820. The Paris scientific establishment was most pleased with the surviving specimens, which included many previously unknown species. Linda Hall Library

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21 Duperrey, Louis Isidore (17861865). Voyage autour du monde execute par ordre du roi, sur la corvette de Sa Majeste La Coquille, pendant les années 1822, 1823, 1824 et 1825. Paris: A. Bertrand, 1825-1830 [i.e. 1838]. Louis Isidore Duperrey had sailed on the Uranie with Freycinet, and when he returned in 1820 and was promoted, he suggested a follow-up voyage, with himself in command. His proposal was approved, and in 1822 the Coquille set out, with Prosper Garnot as head surgeon and naturalist, and René Primevère Lesson as his assistant. The Coquille sailed in the opposite direction from the Uranie, rounding South America and proceeding west to Tahiti, and then on to the island groups of Melanesia, such as the Solomon Islands. Much time was spent in Papua New Guinea, where many of the animals and plants were new to Europeans.

Left: Portuguese Man O’ War, by René Lesson and Pancrace Bessa, from Louis-Isidore Duperrey, Voyage autour du monde, 1825-30. Below: Dottyback, by Antoine-Germain Bevalet, from Louis-Isidore Duperrey, Voyage autour du monde, 1825-30.

One of the novelties of the voyages of both the Uranie and the Coquille was the attention paid to collecting invertebrate specimens. Once Lamarck had sorted out the invertebrates and made naturalists aware of their different organizing principles, it was much easier to identify and classify the myriad kinds that one naturally encounters on any ocean-going expedition. The Zoology Atlas volume of the narrative has entire sections that illustrate Zoophytes, Mollusks, and Crustaceans, as well as the customary Mammals, Birds, and Fish. The Dottyback fish was found on the reefs at Tahiti, and the Portuguese Man O’ War in the deep sea. 33

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22 Lesson, René Primevére (1794-1849). Voyage autour du monde entrepris par ordre du gouvernement sur la corvette la Coquille. Paris: P. Pourrant frères, éditeurs, 1839. René Lesson was a zoologist on the voyage of the Coquille, 1822-25, and he helped write the volume on zoology for the official narrative and prepare the atlas (see item 21). Thirteen years later, Lesson published his own narrative of the voyage, and included a number of plates that did not appear in the official publication. Lesson has a small niche Right: Lyrebird, from Rene Lesson, Voyage autour de monde, 1839. Far Right: Phalanger or cuscus (detail), from Rene Lesson, Voyage autour de monde, 1839.

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in ornithological history for being the first European to observe birds-of-paradise in the wild (and to confirm that, contrary to popular belief, they do have feet). There is a nice plate of a bird-of-paradise in this volume. But we choose to display two other uncommon illustrations: one shows a Superb Lyrebird of Australia (which Lesson probably drew from a stuffed specimen, since it does not really hold its tail in the form of a lyre). The other depicts a phalanger or cuscus that he collected in New Guinea. There are a smattering of phalangers in other narratives of voyages to the South Pacific, but this one has a direct charm that is quite unusual, and engaging.

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innaeus had shown little interest in inver- tebrates, since he had his hands full sorting our mammals, birds, and fish (to say nothing of plants). Consequently, he lumped all invertebrates into just two classes, Insecta and Vermes, or, roughly, Bugs and Worms. Lamarck, in 1809, enlarged these two classes into ten, adding mollusks, crustaceans, polyps (cephalopods), and radiates (echinoderms), among others. In ensuing decades, naturalists greatly expanded their collecting efforts to include these spineless wonders. Charles Darwin was introduced to the world of invertebrates at Edinburgh, collected them on the Beagle, and would later become the world’s authority on one group of crustaceans, the barnacles.

Chapter Four

1750­–1860

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Sea anemones, from Phillip Henry Gosse, Actinologia Britannica, 1860 (see item 30).


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Right: Daphnia, about life size (in the original), detail from Jacob Schaeffer, Die grünen Armpolypen, 1755. Below: Daphnia, enlarged, detail from Jacob Schaeffer, Die grünen Armpolypen, 1755.

23 Schaeffer, Jacob Christian (1718-1790). Die grünen Armpolypen, die geschwänzten und ungeschwäntzen zackigen Wasserflöhe, und ein besondere Art kleiner Wasseraale. Regensburg: Gedruckt bey Emanuel Adam Weiss, 1755. One of the first non-insect invertebrates to be investigated was Daphnia. It was first observed and illustrated by Jan Swammerdam in 1669, but few others took much interest, and Linnaeus omitted it entirely from his System of Nature. So it is rather remarkable that Jacob Schaeffer wrote an entire monograph on this elegant crustacean in 1755, and managed to discover how it moved, fed, and reproduced. Daphnia can be observed under low-power magnification, and being transparent, its inner workings — especially the beating heart — are readily apparent to the curious observer. They certainly were to Schaeffer, who included several colored engravings of his little beastie, which he called the “tailed, branched water flea,” translating from his native German tongue. Schaeffer did not then subscribe to the Linnaean reform of nomenclature. The name Daphnia was finally coined in 1785 by Otto Müller, who just happens to be the author of our next exhibit item. In the enlarged detail of Daphnia, Schaeffer depicted not only the young in the brood pouch, but the tiny rotifers and protozoans that feed on the back of Daphnia’s shell.

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24 Müller, Otto Frederik (1730-1784). Hydrachnae, quas in aquis Daniae palustribvs detexit, descripsit, pingi et tabulis xi aeneis incidi. Leipzig: Siegrfried Lebrect Crusium, 1781. Otto Frederik Müller made an important contribution to invertebrate zoology by inventing the first dredge. An adaptation of a device used by oystermen, his dredge could scrape specimens off the ocean floor, and other naturalists soon began using dredges to discover new invertebrate forms. On the scientific voyages of exploration in the early nineteenth century, every naturalist brought along, and used regularly, a dredge, and this included Charles Darwin. This treatise, however, studies an arachnid that is found in fresh-water ponds and swamps. Popularly called a water mite, it is now placed in the subclass Acarina. Linnaeus had named it Acarus aquaticus and knew only the one species. Müller expanded it to a genus, Hydrachna, and he distinguished forty-nine species, each of which is given a valid Linnaean name and is illustrated by a color engraving. This is a fairly typical example of the explosion of knowledge about invertebrates that occurred between 1760 and 1860.

Above: Water mite, natural size (in the original) and enlarged, detail from Otto Frederik Müller, Hydrachnae,1781. Left: Water mite, enlarged, detail from Otto Frederik Müller, Hydrachnae, 1781.

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25 Ellis, John (1710?-1776). Natural History of Many Curious and Uncommon Zoophytes. London: printed for Benjamin White and son . . . and Peter Elmsly, 1786. Corals were not well understood before the work of John Ellis. They were usually considered to be lithophytes, or mineral vegetables. Ellis showed in the 1750s that corals were the stony productions of animals, and hence were zoophytes — animals that looked like plants. This, his major work on the subject, was finally published ten years after his death. Most of the sixty-two plates depict various kinds of corals, but some attention is also given to other invertebrates, such as sea pens and sea cucumbers, which are not at all related to corals. The term “zoophyte” would linger on into the nineteenth century, before it eventually became obsolete.

Below: Madrepora coral, from John Ellis, Natural History of Many Curious and Uncommon Zoophytes, 1786. Right: Sea cucumber (top) and two sea pens (bottom), from John Ellis, Natural History of Many Curious and Uncommon Zoophytes, 1786.

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26 Jurine, Louis (1751-1819). Histoire des monocles, qui se trouvent aux environs de Gencve. Geneva: J.J. Paschoud...; Paris: Meme maison e Commerce, 1820. Copepods are aquatic crustaceans that make up a large portion of what we now call plankton. Some are parasitic, but most are free-swimming, and are notable for their single eye. Linnaeus included just one species in his System of Nature, which he called Monoculus quadricornis, the “four-horned one-eyed” bug, grouping it with the wingless insects. There are in fact thousands of species of copepods, and they now occupy a subclass of their own. Louis Jurine was one of the first to investigate the diverse world of copepods, and he wrote an entire monograph on the species that he found in the vicinity of his home in Geneva. These swift-moving crustaceans are very difficult to observe, and even more so to draw, and Jurine was blessed by having a daughter with artistic ability who was willing to illustrate his discoveries. Every plate is signed “Mlle Jurine pinxit” ­— painted by Miss Jurine.

Above Left: Green copepod, by Mlle Jurine, from Louis Jurine, Histoire des monocles, 1820. Above: Beaver copepod (so called because of the shape of its egg sac), by Mlle Jurine, from Louis Jurine, Histoire des monocles, 1820.

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Left: Sea hare, by M. Prêtre, from Jules Dumont d’Urville, Voyage de la corvette l’Astrolabe. 1830-34. Below: Sea anemone, by M. Prêtre, from Jules Dumont d’Urville, Voyage de la corvette l’Astrolabe. 1830-34.

27 Dumont d’Urville, Jules Sébastien César (1790-1842).

it provided on invertebrates. The images of barnacles, corals, sponges, mollusks, and starfish are simply gorgeous. We show here a sea hare, a shell-less mollusk with two appendages that resemble rabbit ears, and a sea anemone called Actinia. Both were drawn by a zoological artist who is known only as Prêtre.

Voyage de la corvette l’Astrolabe ...pendant les années 1826-18271828-1829. Paris: J. Tastu, Editeur-Imprimeur, 1830-1834.

The Astrolabe was sent out in 1826 to search for the lost ship and crew of Jean François La Pérouse, missing since 1788. The commander was Jules Dumont d’Urville, who had been on the voyage of the Coquille (see item 21), and in fact, the ship he took back out was none other than the Coquille itself, renamed Astrolabe because that was the name of the lost ship of La Pérouse. The naturalists on board were those who had served on the voyage of the Uranie in 1817-20 (see item 20), Jean René Constant Quoy and Joseph Paul Gaimard. The Astrolabe returned in 1830, having found the final location of La Pérouse, but also having gathered a huge assortment of specimens and drawings, and the narrative was the grandest yet for any French voyage, with thirteen volumes of text and eight folio atlases. We include the work here, rather than in the section on voyages, because of the wealth of information

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28 Ehrenberg, Christian Gottfried (1795-1876).

Die Infusionsthierchen als volkommene Organismen. Leipzig: L. Voss, 1838. The term “infusoria” was the commonly-used term in the nineteenth century for what we now call protozoa. Infusoria were generally microscopic life, and quite a few had been observed by naturalists like Schaeffer and Müller when studying larger invertebrates (see items 23 and 24). But the definitive study of infusoria was this large folio work by Ehrenberg, who was one of the leading German authorities on invertebrates. He championed the idea that infusoria had circulatory, gastric, and nervous systems just like higher animals, and in this he would prove to be in error. But his illustrations of the diversity of microscopic life have seldom been rivaled. We see here just two of the sixty-four plates in his book; one shows Volvox colonies in various stages of development, and the other depicts Vorticella, an organism that looks like an inverted bell on a stalk. At the middle right of this plate, one can see, at a different scale of enlargement, a copepod, to which some tiny Vorticella are attached.

Above: Vorticella, from Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg, Die Infusionsthierchen, 1838. Right: Volvox colonies (detail), from Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg, Die Infusionsthierchen, 1838.

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29 Forbes, Edward (1815-1854). A History of British Starfishes, and Other Animals of the Class Echinodermata. London: John Van Voorst; Printed by Samuel Bentley, 1841. Edward Forbes studied at Edinburgh shortly after Charles Darwin, where invertebrate zoology was a priority, and where students were educated by field excursions. Forbes went on to become, with Darwin, one of the great authorities on invertebrates, with Forbes specializing in echinoderms, which includes starfish and sea urchins. His book on British starfish was embellished not only with his own drawings of various specimens, such as the pair of sea cucumbers seen here, but with an assortment of tiny and charming vignettes, which were stuck in wherever there loomed an open space at the end of a section or chapter. Forbes was addicted to dredging as a source of specimens, and he even wrote a 12-line ditty in its honor, which begins:

Hurrah for the dredge, with its iron edge And its mystical triangle, And its hided net with meshes set Odd fishes to entangle!...

Above: Sea cucumbers, from Edward Forbes, A History of British Starfishes, 1841. Right Top: “Dancing starfish,” vignette from Edward Forbes, A History of British Starfishes, 1841. Right Bottom: “Starfish saved from danger,” vignette from Edward Forbes, A History of British Starfishes, 1841.

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30 Gosse, Phillip Henry (1810-1888). Actinologia Britannica. A History of the British Sea-anemones and Corals. London: Van Voorst, 1860. Philip Henry Gosse was the popularizer, if not the inventor, of the aquarium. Its predecessor, the terrarium, had been invented in the 1830s, which gave rise to a craze for growing ferns in parlor rooms in Victorian England. Gosse had the brilliant idea of turning a terrarium upside down and filling it with sea life. Once it was discovered that the inclusion of plants would provide oxygen for the animals, aquarium culture took off, and in the late 1850s, when Darwin was writing the Origin of Species, others were plunging into tide-water pools on the seacoast, looking for likely specimens. One of the most desirable was the sea-anemone, with its waving tentacles and beautiful colors. After publishing several manuals describing how to maintain an aquarium, Gosse wrote this beautiful book solely on anemones and corals. He appears to have been trying to move beyond the aquarium crowd and establish himself as the authority on anemomes, the way Darwin had on barnacles, and Gosse seems to have been successful. The stunning plates were drawn by Gosse himself, and then printed in color by W. Dickes.

Left: Arrow-muzzlet anemone and five others, from Phillip Henry Gosse, Actinologia Britannica, 1860. Above: Snake-locked anemone and seven others, from Phillip Henry Gosse, Actinologia Britannica, 1860.

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W

hen the nineteenth century dawned, natural history had been a serious discipline for several hundred years, marked by the appearance of many attractive studies, as we have witnessed in the exhibition so far. But between 1800 and 1860, the discipline moved up to a new level. Not only did we have more investigations into the flora and fauna of more places, such as Africa and Australia, but the quality of the publications, and especially of the images, far exceeded earlier efforts. John Thornton’s exquisite Temple of Flora led off the century, followed by the mammal and bird compilations of Prideaux Selby, John Gould, and John James Audubon. Part of the appeal of these works lay in the skill of the artists, and part came from the application of new techniques of printing, such as aquatint, stipple engraving, and lithography. The result was a collection of beautifully illustrated volumes that appear as extraordinary today as they did 150 years ago. Nature had never seemed so grand.

Chapter Five

1800­–1860

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Swift Fox, from John James Audubon, The Quadrupeds of North America, 1849-54 (see item 38).


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31 Thornton, Robert John (1768?-1837).

The Temple of Flora. London: Printed for the publisher [i.e. the author], by T. Bensley, 1807 [i.e. 1799-1807]. In 1799, John Thornton began to issue a series of elegant floral plates. They were commissioned from the best botanical artists, such as Sydenham Edwards, Peter Henderson, and Philip Reinagle, and the plates were printed in a combination of mezzotint, stipple engraving, and aquatint. A total of thirty-three plates were issued in all, and eventually they were gathered into a volume with a title page dated 1807. Neither the plates nor the volume sold well, and by 1811, poor Thornton was financially ruined, and he had to dispose of the rest of his

Above: Sacred Lotus (pink), with American Lotus or Water-lily (yellow), by Peter Henderson, from Robert Thornton, The Temple of Flora, 1807. Right: Blue Egyptian Water-lily, by Peter Henderson, from Robert Thornton, The Temple of Flora, 1807.

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stock by lottery. The Temple of Flora, however, has survived as one of the most beautiful botanical publications of modern times. The plate of the Blue Egyptian Water-lily was issued in 1804; Thornton attended a scientific meeting in Paris, presided over by Napoleon, where the plant was first described; the background shows Aboukir, where the Battle of the Nile was waged. The other plate depicts the pink Sacred or Indian Lotus; Thornton added the yellow American Lotus (often called a Water-lily) because he liked the color combination.

32 Gould, John (1804-1881).

The Birds of Europe. London: Printed by Richard and John E. Taylor, Published by the author, 1837. John Gould first emerged on the ornithological scene with his Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains (1832), which was a great success. He immediately began work on a much larger compilation, The Birds of Europe. The plates were issued in 22 parts, four parts per year, each with 20 plates, and the production was finished right on schedule in 1837. Typically, Gould would draw rough sketches of his birds, at which point his wife Elizabeth would take over, creating a finished painting, and also producing the lithographic stone used for printing. In the Century, Gould had given Elizabeth full credit for the art work; in this publication, the plates are signed jointly. Gould also enlisted the artistic aid of a young artist, Edward Lear. Lear was assigned some of the larger birds, such as the herons and cranes, and he acquitted himself admirably. Although he drew from stuffed specimens, Lear was able to give his birds a life and vitality that few of his contemporaries could achieve, as the Great Heron reproduced here demonstrates.

Above: Great Heron, by Edward Lear, from John Gould, The Birds of Europe, 1837. Right: Blue Roller, detail, by Elizabeth Gould, from John Gould, The Birds of Europe, 1837.

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Left: Blue Wildebeest, by Gerald Ford, from Andrew Smith, Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa, 1838-49. Below: South African Hedgehog, by Gerald Ford, from Andrew Smith, Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa, 1838-49.

33 Smith, Andrew, Sir (1797-1872).

Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa. London: Smith, Elder and co., 1838-1849. Andrew Smith, later Sir Andrew, was an officer in the British Royal Army, stationed in South Africa, and in the 1820s and 1830s he made some of the first zoological expeditions into the interior of southern Africa. In 1836, he met young Charles Darwin, when the Beagle landed at the Cape of Good Hope. Upon his return to England, Smith published an illustrated set on the zoology of South Africa, which appeared in five volumes between 1838 and 1849. The lithographs served as an introduction for many people to the fauna of the African savannas, and a number of the images are quite memorable. Linda Hall Library

The artist, Gerald Ford, had a way of making his animals look exotic with very simple brushstrokes. Darwin continued to correspond with Smith (they shared the same publisher for their respective Zoologies), and later, in 1857, Darwin nominated Smith for Fellowship in the Royal Society of London.

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entire image printing process, he sent Mitford to Newcastle to learn engraving and etching from none other than John Bewick. Mitford then taught the process to Selby. There is something about herons that draws out the best in a bird artist. Selby’s Little Egret Heron can take prideful place with the herons by Edward Lear, John J. Audubon, and Mark Catesby. And his Green Lapwings may contain a playful gibe at Audubon. We know Audubon visited Selby and drew a Lapwing as a housewarming present. It is not hard to imagine that the contorted male lapwing in Selby’s illustration might represent the Audubon style of ornithology (see item 37).

34 Selby, Prideaux John (1788-1867).

Illustrations of British Ornithology. Edinburgh: Printed for the proprietor, and pub. by W.H. Lizars [etc.], 1833. Prideaux John Selby’s ornithological work is often overshadowed by that of John James Audubon and John Gould, but unjustly so. Well before anyone had heard of either Audubon or Gould, Selby conceived the idea of publishing an illustrated book depicting, life-size, every bird species that could be found in the British Isles. He made most of the drawings himself, but many were contributed by his brother-in-law, Robert Mitford. Selby had a large estate in Northumberland, on the English coast just south of Scotland, and many of his birds were observed there. Wanting to have control over the

Top Left: Little Egret Heron, from Prideaux John Selby, Illustrations of British Ornithology, 1833. Above: Green Lapwings, from Prideaux John Selby, Illustrations of British Ornithology, 1833.

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35 Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, vol. 77, 1851. Many botanical publications, such as Curtis’s Flora Londinensis and Thornton’s Temple of Flora, were intended for elite audiences (see items 13 and 31). Curtis’s Botanical Magazine brought floral art to the middle class. First issued in 1787, the publication flourished throughout the nineteenth century, especially under the editorship of William J. Hooker, the Director of Kew Gardens, who brought on board the artist Walter Hood Fitch. From three to seven plates were issued each month, with each plant carefully described by Hooker. Most of the plants were exotic, introduced into Kew Gardens from various sources. The poppy illustrated here was grown from seeds brought back from Nepal by William Hooker’s son, Joseph Hooker, who was, by the time of this publication, Charles Darwin’s best friend. The other plant is a water lily, collected in New Mexico by the American botanist Charles Wright. Interestingly, this volume also illustrates plants brought back from Chile by Darwin, from Patagonia by Robert Fitzroy, and from Australia by Phillip Parker King, captain of the Beagle on her third voyage. Above: Nepalese Poppy, by Walter H. Fitch, collected by Joseph Hooker, from Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, vol. 77, 1851. Right: Tropical Royal-blue Water-lily from New Mexico, by Walter H. Fitch, collected by Charles Wright, from Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, vol. 77, 1851.

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made eight separate collecting trips through Van Diemen’s Land [Tasmania] and Australia. When he returned to England, he immediately set about producing a set of volumes on the Birds of Australia, and he did not get around to the mammals until 1845. His wife and chief illustrator, Elizabeth, had died shortly after their return home, and the Mammals employed a new artist, H.C. Richter. The first part was issued in 1845, and the last not until 1863. But nearly every genus of Australian mammals was represented here.

Above: Tasmanian devil, by H. C. Richter, from John Gould, Mammals of Australia, 1863.

36 Gould, John (1804-1881).

The Mammals of Australia. London: Printed by Taylor and Francis..., published by the author, 1863. Ever since Joseph Banks saw his first kangaroo on Captain Cook’s first voyage, Australian mammals had proved fascinating to European naturalists, and nearly every narrative of a voyage to Australia has some images of wombats, platypuses, and echidnas. Often these illustrations were based on skins, and the results are less than convincing. Gould spent two years in Australia, from 1838 to 1840, and he Above: Numbats, by H. C. Richter, from John Gould, Mammals of Australia, 1863.

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Below: Meadowlarks, from John James Audubon, The Birds of America, 1840-44. Right: Barn Swallows, detail, from John James Audubon, The Birds of America, 1840-44.

37 Audubon, John James (1785-1851).

The Birds of America. Philadelphia: J. B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. Audubon’s Birds of America, in its double-elephant folio format, is perhaps the best known and most highly prized work of natural history in the modern era. Audubon began issuing the plates by subscription in 1827, and the last of the 435 plates finally appeared in 1838. Not quite so appreciated is the smaller sized version, called the octavo edition, that Audubon published between 1840 and 1844. The much smaller plates of this edition do not overwhelm by their size, but they have a great deal of charm, and because Audubon, for this edition, abandoned the premise that the birds all be life size, the plates of the smaller birds like the warblers and wrens seem much more sensible. Audubon’s painting of the Louisiana Heron appears on the cover of this catalog; Audubon called this bird “the Lady of the Waters.” His rendering of a family of meadowlarks is wonderfully rich, while managing to show both male and female from a variety of angles. The barn swallows are just delightful, especially in the contorted posture of the male, which is a typical Audubon flourish in many of his paintings. Linda Hall Library

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38 Audubon, John James (1785-1851).

was not all that productive in terms of new animals observed, but Audubon was invigorated enough by the trip to finish his paintings and secure publication. The folio set of the Quadrupeds of North America appeared between 1844 and 1848; the smaller octavo set, which we exhibit, was published between 1849 and 1854.

The Quadrupeds of North America. New York: V. G. Audubon, 1849-1854. After finishing his monumental Birds of America in 1838, Audubon began collaborating with John Bachman of South Carolina on a similar project on the quadrupeds of North America. Since specimens of many animals were not available to him, Audubon, at the ripe age of 58, decided to go west to see the wildlife for himself. In 1843, he embarked on a steamboat in St. Louis and traveled as far as Fort Union on the Missouri. After a short stay, he returned. The journey

Unlike many animal painters of his day, Audubon had a real genius for creating rich tableaux for his subjects. Seldom has a family of mice had such an elegant setting in which to dine, and the pair of mink are beautifully posed in front of a bubbling stream, defiant of the trappers’ cabin in the background.

Left: Common Mouse, from John James Audubon, The Quadrupeds of North America, 1849-54. Below: American Mink, from John James Audubon, The Quadrupeds of North America, 1849-54.

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I

n the Renaissance and early seventeenth century, it was generally believed that fossils were figured stones that grew in the rock, and were not the remains of once-living creatures. Robert Hooke and Nicolas Steno in the 1660s established that fossils were organic remains, but most of the fossils they dealt with were shells. It wasn’t until the eighteenth century that fossils of large quadrupeds, such as the mastodon and mammoth, began to be recognized. The central issue raised by such fossils was the question of extinction: were these species that had disappeared from the earth, or did they still survive in some form? Many opposed the idea of extinction, because it seemed to imply that God’s creation was imperfect and incomplete. But Georges Cuvier in the early nineteenth century convincingly demonstrated that a whole host of animals had once populated the earth and were now extinct, having been wiped out by a succession of geological revolutions. By Darwin’s time, extinction was a well-recognized fact of nature. Cuvier, however, rejected evolution as a way of explaining extinction, and so did most of his followers. Darwin would have a different view.

Chapter Six

1720­–1860

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Discovery of the skull of the “Maastricht animal”, from Barthélemy Faujas-de-St.-Fond, Histoire naturelle de la Montagne de Saint-Pierre de Maastricht, 1799 (see item 40).


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39 Scheuchzer, Johann Jacob (1672-1733).

Homo diluvii testis. Zurich: Typis Joh. Henrici Byrgklini, 1726. Johann Scheuchzer was a Swiss naturalist who was one of the early proponents of the idea that fossils are the remains of former organisms. He also believed that the best way to explain the presence of such fossils in rocks was to invoke the Great Flood of Noah. He proposed that during the Flood, the surface of the earth was dissolved and re-deposited, along with animal and plant remains, which became fossilized. If this were true, one ought to find human remains as well, since all of humankind perished during the flood, except for Noah’s family. So Scheuchzer was quite relieved to discover, in 1726, what he considered to be a “Homo diluvii testis”, a human witness of the flood. This fossil, consisting of a skull and a vertebral column, became quite famous for the next century (and indeed still survives, in the Teyler Museum in Haarlem). In fact, it is not human at all, but a giant salamander, as Cuvier would demonstrate in 1808 (see item 42). Right: “The Human Witness of the Flood”, from Johann Jacob Scheuchzer, Homo diluvii testis, 1726.

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40 Faujas-de-St.-Fond, Barthélemy (1741-1819). Histoire naturelle de la Montagne de Saint-Pierre de Maestricht. Paris : Chez H.J. Jansen, 1799. In 1780, a large fossil skull was unearthed in a quarry in Maastricht in the Netherlands. The skull came into the hands of the French when Faujas-de-St.-Fond and French revolutionary forces marauded through Holland in 1794 and brought back all sorts of scientific booty, including this specimen. The giant four-foot-long jaw was the third of its kind to come to light and was quite the topic of conversation. One Dutch naturalist argued that it came from a toothed whale, but Faujas disagreed. In his beautiful book on the fossils from Maastricht, we can see a dramatic vignette on the title page that re-enacts

Above: Skull of the “Maastricht animal,” from Barthélemy Faujasde-St.-Fond, Histoire naturelle de la Montagne de Saint-Pierre de Maestricht, 1799. Left: Nile crocodile, from Barthélemy Faujas-de-St.-Fond, Histoire naturelle de la Montagne de Saint-Pierre de Maestricht, 1799.

the discovery of the specimen now in Paris (see the introduction to this section), a second and much larger engraving of the Paris specimen, and an illustration of what Faujas believed to be the Maastricht animal’s closest relative, the Nile crocodile.

It is noteworthy that Faujas rejected the possibility that the Maastricht animal was an extinct creature. Thirteen years later, Georges Cuvier would feel quite comfortable in suggesting that the Maastricht animal was an extinct marine reptile, forty feet long, which would later be called a mosasaur (see item 42). 59

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41 Cuvier, George (1769-1832). Left: Sloth skeleton, from Georges Cuvier, Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles, 1812 (item 42). Below: Megatherium skeleton and bones, from Annales du Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 1804, vol. 4, no. 29.

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“Sur le Megatherium: Autre animal de la famille des Paresseux, mais de la taille du Rhinoceros don’t unsquelette fossile prosque complete est conservé au cabinet royal d’histoire naturelle à Madrid.” In: Annales du Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 1804, vol. 4, no. 29. A skeleton of a huge unknown quadruped was discovered near Buenos Aires in 1787. The bones were sent to Madrid, where they were mounted by Juan Bautista Bru and put on display in the Royal Museum. In Paris, a young anatomist named Georges Cuvier heard about the mount, obtained engravings and a description, and in 1804 wrote this account of the animal. The name he gave it, Megatherium americanum, was noncommittal, since it just means “Big American Beast,” but in his analysis of the bones, he pointed out that it bore a great resemblance to a sloth, especially in its jaw and teeth, and the structure of its claws. The major difference was its size. So Cuvier proposed that the Megatherium was a giant ground sloth. Moreover, because no such creature has been observed in South America today, it must be extinct. Cuvier thus became one of the first to argue that previous geological eras had supported different animals than those that we find in the present. Here we have our first strong argument for the reality of extinction.


42 Cuvier, Georges (1769-1832). Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles de quadrupedes. Paris: Chez Deterville, 1812. In 1812, Cuvier gathered together all of the various papers that he had written on fossil remains, added some new material, and published this four-volume compilation. After this work appeared, it was no longer possible to deny the reality of extinction. Cuvier demonstrated that the mammoth, the mastodon, and the Megatherium were different from any living creatures and therefore represented lost species. He tackled a variety of other unexplained or incorrectly-explained fossils and resolved their identity. He showed that Scheuchzer’s “Human witness of the Flood” was not human at all, but an extinct giant salamander; the plate reproduces Scheuchzer’s fossil, adds another more complete fossil that reveals the amphibian structure, and then provides an ideal restoration of the skeleton. Cuvier examined a bird-like skeleton found in Germany in 1783 and pointed out, on the basis of its anatomy, that this must have been a flying reptile, supporting its wing with an extended fourth finger. He later named it a pterodactyl, and pronounced it extinct.

Left: Scheuchzer’s “witness of the flood” and similar extinct salamanders, from Georges Cuvier, Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles, 1812. Below: Reptile volant or pterodactyl, from Georges Cuvier, Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles, 1812.

To explain extinction, Cuvier proposed that the earth had undergone periodic revolutions, during which animal life was extinguished, and the globe was then repopulated by unknown means. Cuvier was aware of evolutionary explanations, since he taught at the same institution as Lamarck (see item 17), but he emphatically rejected the possibility of evolution as an explanation for extinction.

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Owen became the principal authority on anatomy and fossils in Darwin’s day. To explain the variety of forms that one sees over time, Owen developed the concept of an archetype, which was an ideal form or design. One could construct an archetype of a vertebrate (Owen actually did so), and all vertebrates, living and fossil, could be understood as variations on that archetype. Owen’s archetypes would prove incompatible with Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

43 Owen, Richard (1804-1892). Description of the Skeleton of an Extinct Gigantic Sloth, Mylodon robustus. London: Printed by R. and J.E. Taylor...; Sold by John Van Voorst, 1842. Richard Owen was Hunterian professor of anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, with a primary interest in the anatomy of living and extinct vertebrates. He was allowed to dissect animals from the London Zoo that had died, to improve his knowledge of animal anatomy, which he then applied to understanding fossil vertebrates, in the manner developed by Cuvier. This is a study of a specimen brought back by Charles Darwin from South America (see item 49). Owen recognized that the Mylodon was a giant ground sloth, but only distantly related to the more familiar Megatherium. This is one of the best contemporary illustrations of any giant sloth, both for the robustness of the lithograph by George Scharf, and for the inclusion of the skeleton of a living tree sloth at lower right, to allow a comparison of size.

Right: Mylodon skeleton, with that of a sloth, from Richard Owen, Description of the Skeleton of an Extinct Gigantic Sloth, 1842.

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Left: Ctenoid fish fossil, from Louis Agassiz, Recherches sur les poissons fossiles, 1833-43. Below: Placoid fish fossil, from Louis Agassiz, Recherches sur les poissons fossiles, 1833-43.

44 Agassiz, Louis (1807-1873).

Recherches sur les poissons fossiles. Neuchatel: Imprimerie des Petitpierre, 1833-1843. Although the large fossil vertebrates received much of the attention in the early nineteenth century, some naturalists realized that more information about the history of life on earth could be gained from fish, which were much better represented in the fossil record. Louis Agassiz was a Swiss naturalist who undertook this task single-handedly. By studying all the specimens he could locate, Agassiz was able to re-classify the fish into four orders, based on their scale structure. Some fish were found only in older rocks (Secondary rocks, as they were called at the time), while others were found only in more recent rocks. Some of the oldest specimens were quite strange, such as the placoid fish illustrated here, with its bony head shield. Agassiz therefore recognized the reality of extinction, but, like Cuvier, he rejected the possibility of evolution. Agassiz would become quite famous when he proposed his glacial theory in 1840, and he would later move to Harvard University, where he became one of the staunchest opponents of Darwinian evolution in the 1860s. 63

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45 Reynolds, James (fl. 1845-1864).

Pictorial and Descriptive Atlas of Geology London: Published by James Reynolds, ca 1854. By 1834, very incomplete fossil remains had been discovered of three large reptiles; they had been named Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, and Hylaeosaurus. In 1842, Richard Owen (see item 43) suggested that although these three differed in certain details, they had a unifying structure that merited including them in one single group. He called that group Dinosauria (See our exhibition catalog, Paper Dinosaurs, 1824-1969 (1996), for a more detailed look at the discovery of the first dinosaurs). Dinosaurs remained generally unknown to the public, because, unlike the mastodon or Megatherium, there was no complete skeleton that could be displayed. Right: Dinosaur and other restorations at Sydenham Park, by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, from James Reynolds, Pictorial and Descriptive Atlas of Geology, ca 1854.

In 1853, the Crystal Palace, an enormous iron-and-glass structure that had been erected in London in 1851 for the Great Exhibition, was being re-located to Sydenham Park south of London. Since there were now ample grounds surrounding the Palace, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins was commissioned to construct life-size restorations of a variety of extinct animals, including the dinosaurs. He was assisted in their design by Owen, and the park was opened in 1854 to great acclaim. This tableau drawn by Hawkins shows four dinosaurs at the left (there were two Iguanodon), a number of marine reptiles, and a pterodactyl, as well as a Megatherium in the distant far right. Thus, by 1855, it was generally recognized, even by the public, that life on earth had changed over time, and that the species we see now had not always existed. The origin of living species, however, was an unsettled question.

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C

harles Darwin was a born naturalist. When he was young, he collected all kinds of things: coins, seals, minerals. He learned to shoot, and began collecting birds. He attended Edinburgh University and collected sea creatures from tidal pools; he moved on to Cambridge and collected beetles. As he matured, he encountered teachers like Robert Grant at Edinburgh and John Henslow at Cambridge who gave structure to his curiosity, and taught him Linnaean nomenclature, the basic principles of anatomy, and the techniques of microscopy. As chance would have it, he found himself invited on the Beagle voyage, and for five years was able to collect on a grand scale, and also to learn something about the distribution of animals and plants, about geology, and about fossil remains. When he returned, he was now a trained naturalist and geologist, and able to make small contributions to zoology and paleontology. His narrative of his voyage and his Zoology of the Beagle brought Darwin to the attention of the scientific public. And, as he sorted out his specimens and mused on his notes, Darwin rather quickly converted to the idea of the transmutation of species, or what we now call evolution. By 1844, he had written it all out in manuscript. But it was still a private notion. The Origin of Species was fifteen years away.

Chapter Seven

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HMS Beagle in Tierra del Fuego, with Mt. Sarmiento in the background, from Robert Fitzroy, Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty’s Ships Adventure and Beagle, 1839 (see item 48).


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46 Stephens, James Francis (1792-1853).

Illustrations of British Entomology. London: Printed for the author; Published by Baldwin and Cradock, 1828-35, 1846. When Darwin was at Cambridge University, from 1828-1831, one of his great passions was collecting beetles. As he tells us in his autobiography, he didn’t know much about entomology, but he managed to identify most of his discoveries. While Darwin was collecting, a real entomologist, James Stephens, was beginning to publish what would turn out to be a sevenvolume work on the insects of Great Britain. And Stephens began in 1828 with beetles. Darwin apparently heard of the enterprise, for he began sending Stephens notices of his discoveries, and perhaps actual specimens. Whatever actually occurred, in the second volume, Darwin’s name started showing up, in footnotes in the appendix, in such phrases as “Colembettes exoletus. ‘Abundantly near Cambridge.’ C. Darwin, Esq.” This was Darwin’s first appearance in print in a scientific publication, and it gave him a great sense of pride.

Above: Six beetle species, from James Francis Stephens, Illustrations of British Entomology, vol. 2, 1829. Beetles 3 and 5 were two that Darwin observed, and for which he was cited by Stephens in the appendix. Left: Page of endnotes in which Darwin is quoted and cited five times, James Francis Stephens, Illustrations of British Entomology, vol. 2, 1829.

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Left: Diagram of the geography of plants, from Alexander von Humboldt, De distributione geographica plantarum, 1817.

47 Humboldt, Alexander Frieherr von, 1769-1859.

and was smitten by an urge for exploration. Humboldt was one of the first naturalists to emphasize the importance of studying the geographical distribution of animals and plants, and Darwin would take this to heart on his own voyage. This plate is a graphical representation of the way plants change with altitude, and also with latitude. Of the three mountains depicted, the one on the left lies on the equator, the central one in the Alps, and the one on the right in northern Japan, and it can be seen that the tree line is much lower for the northern mountains than for those in the tropics. Trying to explain the facts of biogeography would be a key motivator for Darwin in his quest to determine the origin of species.

De distributione geographica plantarum secundum coeli temperiem et altitudinem montium, prolegomena. Paris: In Libraria GraecoLatino-Germanica, 1817. Darwin tells us that there were two authors he encountered as a student that influenced his career more than any other. One was the English astronomer and philosopher John Herschel, and the other was the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. Humboldt had journeyed to South America in 1799-1804, and explored the Orinoco River and the Ecuadorean Andes. Darwin read Humboldt’s narrative of the journey 69

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48 Fitzroy, Robert (1805-1865). Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty’s Ships Adventure and Beagle. London: Henry Colburn, 1839. Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle is probably the most famous scientific voyage in history. Darwin was chosen to be the gentleman companion to the captain, Robert Fitzroy, and he became the de facto naturalist to the voyage when he proved better at the job than the official surgeon/naturalist. The Beagle sailed in 1831 and spent several years surveying the eastern coast of South America, while Darwin collected specimens. The Beagle sailed through Tierra del Fuego (see illustration to the introduction to this section), where Darwin got his first glimpse of a primitive human society. The ship then made its famous stop at the Galapagos Islands near Ecuador, and finally completed its circumnavigation of the globe by visiting Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, the Indian Ocean, and South Africa, before returning home in 1836.

Right: Natives of Tierra del Fuego, drawn by Conrad Martens, from Robert Fitzroy, Narrative of the Surveying Voyages, 1839.

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Fitzroy wrote the official narrative to the expedition, but since Darwin had kept a careful diary, he was invited to contribute a volume. So Darwin’s famous travel account first appeared as volume 3 of Fitzroy’s narrative, with the innocuous half-title: “Journal and Remarks.” Darwin’s volume proved so popular that it was immediately republished separately, with a title that wasn’t much better: Journal of Researches. Modern editions are usually titled The Voyage of the Beagle. Right: Half-title page to Darwin’s volume, with gift inscription of Fitzroy at the top, from Robert Fitzroy, Narrative of the Surveying Voyages, 1839.

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49 Darwin, Charles (1809-1882).

The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. London: Published by Smith, Elder and Co., 1839-1843. When he returned from the Beagle voyage, Darwin sent many of his specimens out to experts. He sent his bird collection to John Gould, the mammals to George Waterhouse , the reptiles to Thomas Bell, the fish to Leonard Jenyns, and the fossil mammals to Richard Owen. When they had finished their descriptions of the specimens, Darwin prepared their texts and illustrations for publication. The result was the five-volume Zoology of the Beagle, which appeared between 1839 and 1843. John Gould was a good choice to examine the birds, as he was just finishing his monumental Birds of Europe (see item 32) and was about to head off to Australia. It was Gould who discovered that many of the birds that Darwin collected in the Galapagos Islands were unique species of finches — thirteen of them in all, found nowhere else in the world. Darwin would later explain this as the result of random migration and geographic isolation, but at the time, he was quite surprised. A number of the finches, and many other birds, were illustrated by John Gould’s wife, Elizabeth, including this pair of cactus finches. Right: Cactus finches, by Elizabeth Gould, from Charles Darwin, The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, 1839-43.

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Right: Land iguana, by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, from Charles Darwin The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, 1839-43.

One of the unusual features of the Galapagos was the absence of any native terrestrial mammals (although they do have bats). Instead, the dominant animals were two species of iguana. The marine iguana swims, feeds on seaweed, and basks on the rocks, and is unlike any other iguana in the world. The land iguana, also a unique species, feeds on cactus. Darwin would later discover that most island groups that are far from continents similarly lack mammals, and often have marine reptiles, and an assortment of endemic birds, although they are quite different from the Galapagos fauna. The land iguana depicted here was drawn by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, who was a gifted illustrator, but more famous for his role in erecting the first full-size dinosaur restorations in Sydenham Park, London, in 1854 (see item 45).

Darwin’s experience with fossils began quite unexpectedly in 1833, when he stumbled on some bones eroding from a bank in Punta Alta, Argentina, south of Buenos Aires. This proved to be quite a cache, and he eventually recovered the partial remains of ten individual mammals. Several he recognized as Megatherium, since he was familiar with Cuvier’s account of this extinct ground sloth (see item 41). The others were unfamiliar, and so he turned them over to Richard Owen, who was an extremely competent young authority on comparative anatomy and fossils, and the apparent heir to Cuvier. Owen discovered that all Darwin’s specimens were the remains of extinct animals, several of them new to science.

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Left: Toxodon skull, by George Scharf, from Charles Darwin The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, 1839-43.

One of the fossils brought back was a large skull, almost four feet long, that Owen named Toxodon, and described it as a hippo-like animal, with no modern descendants. The published lithograph of this skull was drawn by George Scharf and was done natural size. We reproduce it here, but the plate is four feet long and too large to display. Fortunately, Scharf also did a drawing of the other side of the skull, at 1-to-4 scale, and that is what we show in the exhibition. The fossil mammals Darwin discovered led to one of his first original contributions to zoology. He noted that when one finds an extinct animal in a locale, such as the Megatherium in South America, there is usually a living animal in that region that it resembles (such as the sloth). Thus there seems to be a kind of “succession of types,� as if there were a line of descent that connects the extinct and living species. Cuvier had earlier denied that there is any connection between species of different eras. After his return from the voyage, Darwin now thought otherwise.

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50 Malthus, Thomas Robert, 1766-1834.

An Essay on the Principle of Population. Sixth ed. London: John Murray, 1826. Thomas Malthus was a political economist who first published this book on population in 1798. Malthus considered the relationship between human population growth and the growth of resources, and he discovered that while population tends to grow rapidly, resources increase much more slowly, so that, ultimately, there are going to be more humans than can survive. Darwin, taking a break from working on his Beagle material, read Malthus in 1838. In fact, he read this very edition, published in 1826. Malthus was somewhat “in the air” in the 1830s; there had been a reform of the poor laws in 1834, and in the ensuing debate concerning the responsibility of a society towards its poor, Malthus was often invoked. Although Malthus was concerned only with human population growth, Darwin read this work and immediately saw that its conclusions apply to populations in nature as well. Animals breed much more rapidly than humans, and since natural resources do not increase at all, there must be a great “struggle for existence” among members of any species. This was the missing piece in the puzzle for Darwin; he had already concluded that species change, but he did not know why they change. After reading Malthus, he understood that only a few individuals will survive in each generation, and if they exhibit any variations, then their descendants will inherit those variations. His concept of natural selection had now taken form.

Right: Titlepage to Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1826.

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B

Chapter Eight

etween 1846 and 1854, Darwin occupied himself with a detailed study of Cirripedia, or barnacles. In 1851, he suffered the death of his dearest daughter, Annie, but he persevered, publishing four volumes on barnacles by 1854 and becoming the world’s leading expert on these curious crustaceans. He now turned to raising pigeons and studying animal breeding, planning an extensive treatise on variation under domestication, as the first part of what we call his “Big Book” on evolution. His leisurely pursuit was interrupted in 1858 by a letter from Alfred Russel Wallace, who had independently discovered the principle of natural selection while naturalizing in the Malay Archipelago. Spurred into action, Darwin wrote out an abstract of his Big Book, finishing the manuscript in just over a year. This was published as On the Origin of Species in 1859. It contained an explanation of variation, the struggle for existence, and natural selection. And, it presented evidence for descent with modification, or evolution. Probably no single work of the last 200 years has had a greater impact on human understanding of our place in nature than this one.

1844­–1859

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A chimpanzee, perhaps pondering its own origin, by Marie Firmin Bocourt, from Archives du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, 1858-61, vol. 10 (see item 55).


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Right: Title page of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, 1844.

51 [Chambers, Robert] (1802-1871).

Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. London: J. Churchill, 1844. In 1844, just after he completed a 230-page manuscript (usually called “The Essay�) outlining his theory of the transformation of species, Darwin heard about a new publication that was all the rage in London literary circles. Published anonymously, the Vestiges, as it was referred to, proposed a full-blown theory of evolution. Reasoning from what physicists understood about the formation of organized planetary systems from unorganized nebulous matter, the unknown author argued that Development was a law of the universe, every bit as universal as Gravitation. Things naturally tend to move from a state of disorder to one of order. Just as solar systems develop and evolve, so do living things, as embryos, and as species, genera, and orders. The public was excited and titillated by the Vestiges, but the scientific community was appalled, and a number of critical and often vitriolic reviews were published in literary journals, by men that Darwin knew and respected. One criticism was common to nearly all the reviews: the author, whoever he was, obviously lacked the qualifications to be talking about the origin of species, for he was mistaken in many details. Darwin, surprised by the icy reception to the Vestiges, seems to have promised himself that when his book appeared, no one could accuse him of a lack of qualifications. He also seems to have resolved that, until those qualifications were impeccable, he would remain silent about evolution. The identity of the author, Robert Chambers, an Edinburgh publisher, was not revealed until after his death. Linda Hall Library

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52 Darwin, Charles (18511854). A Monograph on the Sub-class Cirripedia. London: Ray Society, 1851-1854. In 1846, Darwin was trying to sort out some of his last remaining Beagle specimens, one of which was a tiny parasitic barnacle that he called Arthrobalanus. In the weeks that followed, he came to realize that no one really knew anything about the life cycle of barnacles, known to scientists as Cirripedia, and so he set out to educate himself about these tiny crustaceans. The weeks stretched to months, and then to years — eight years in all. He borrowed barnacles from anyone who would lend them, and his study at Down House was soon filled with thousands of specimens, which Darwin proceeded to dissect at his microscope and organize into genera and species. By the time he dissected his last, he had gathered material for four highly detailed volumes: two on living barnacles (exhibited here) and two on fossil barnacles. When the last volumes appeared in 1854, no one could say that Darwin was unqualified to talk about species and their origin. Top: Anatomy of a barnacle (detail), from Charles Darwin, A Monograph on the Sub-class Cirripedia, 1851-54. Left: Sessile barnacles, from Charles Darwin, A Monograph on the Sub-class Cirripedia, 1851-54.

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Right: Campsite in the Himalayas, from Joseph Hooker, Himalayan Journals, 1854. Below: Rhododendrons in Nepal, from Joseph Hooker, Himalayan Journals, 1854.

53 Hooker, Joseph Dalton, Sir (1817-1911). Himalayan Journals. London: J. Murray, 1854.

Joseph Hooker became Darwin’s best friend. Hooker was a botanist, the son of William Hooker, the Director of Kew Gardens. The two met in 1839, when Joseph was heading out on his scientific voyage to Antarctica on HMS Erebus, and when Hooker returned in 1843, the two struck up a correspondence. It was Hooker who wrote Darwin in 1845 and said that no one should write about species who has not classified thousands, perhaps sending Darwin down the long barnacle road. Hooker then headed off to the Himalayas, writing to Darwin all the while, and sending back specimens and seeds from Nepal, including a variety of rhododendrons, which thrived in Kew Gardens and spread from there to the rest of the Western world. Linda Hall Library

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54 Selby, Prideaux John (1788-1867).

The Natural History of Pigeons. Edinburgh: W. H. Lizars...; S. Highley..., London; and W. Curry Jun. & co., Dublin, 1835. After putting the barnacles to bed, Darwin’s interests turned to the breeding of domestic animals. He planned to begin his future book with a study of “variation under domestication,” because it is a subject most people

understand, or think they do, and because animal breeders practice a form of selection in generating new forms, although it is a kind of artificial selection. Darwin read a number of breeders’ manuals, but he also did some first-hand breeding of his own, with pigeons. Many Victorian gentlemen and ladies kept pigeons, and breeders had produced a number of exotic forms, which included Pouters that could puff out their crops, Fantails that could spread their tail feathers like turkeys, and Tumblers that actually rolled over in flight. Darwin suspected that all these varieties were descendants of the common rock pigeon, and that breeders simply selected variants with unusual characteristics and crossed them, with the desired traits passing to the next generation, when they would be again subjected to the breeders’ selective eye. Darwin ended up writing a very large manuscript on the subject, called the “Big Book,” and would likely have kept working on it for many years; fortunately, he was interrupted by a letter from Alfred Russel Wallace. Top: Fantail pigeon, by Edward Lear, from Prideaux John Selby, The Natural History of Pigeons, 1835. Left: Pouter pigeon, by Edward Lear, from Prideaux John Selby, The Natural History of Pigeons, 1835.

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Right: Gorilla, by Marie Firmin Bocourt, from Archives du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, 1858-61, vol. 10.

55 Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Isidore.

“Description des mammifères nouveaux.... Quatrième Mémoire, Famille des singes, second supplément.” In: Archives du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, 1858-61, vol. 10. The chimpanzee and orangutan were fairly well understood in the 1850s; Richard Owen had written a long paper on the anatomy of these two great apes in 1835, and there were specimens of both in the London Zoo. But the gorilla was a newcomer. Although legends about it go back to the seventeenth century, the gorilla was discovered and scientifically described only in 1847. The French naturalist Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire wrote the first in-depth treatise on the gorilla in 1858; the wonderful lithograph, the first of its kind, was drawn by Marie Firmin Boucourt, who also executed a startling face-front portrait of a chimpanzee (see introduction to this section). We include this article for two reasons. First, the images are too wonderful to omit from an exhibition on the grandeur of life. Second, it is important to make the point that the discovery of the gorilla lies well off the path to Darwin’s Origin of Species. Darwin was concerned with barnacles, and pigeons, and seed transport by birds, and he left discussion of the apes to others, such as Owen and Thomas H. Huxley. Only much later, when he was preparing his Descent of Man (1871), would Darwin take up the problem of ape and human affinities. In the Origin of Species, he would say nary a word. Linda Hall Library

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56 Darwin, Charles (1809-1882); Wallace, Alfred Wallace (1823-1913).

recommended that Darwin send Wallace’s paper to the Linnean Society of London, along with a short paper by Darwin, drawn from his letters and manuscripts. This was done, and both papers were read on July 1, 1858. Darwin was not present, and there appears to have been no reaction, pro or con, to this initial presentation of the idea of natural selection.

“On the tendency of species to form varieties....” In: Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society, 1858, vol. 3. Darwin got the shock of his life in June, 1858, when he opened a letter from far-off Ternate in the Malay Archipelago, written by Alfred Russel Wallace, and containing a manuscript called “On the tendency of species to depart indefinitely from their original type.” Wallace asked if it was worth publishing. In fact, it was a perfect précis of Darwin’s concept of evolution by natural selection. Darwin sought advice on what to do, and his good friends Charles Lyell and Joseph Hooker

Fortunately, Darwin at last saw the handwriting on the wall, and he immediately set himself to the task of writing a booklength presentation of his evolutionary theory, leaving out footnotes and anything else that would slow him down. The manuscript was completed in just over a year. The path to the Origin of Species was nearly at an end!

Above: Conclusion of Darwin’s paper, and the beginning of Wallace’s paper, from Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society, 1858, vol. 3. Right: First paragraph of the joint paper by Charles Darwin and Alfred R. Wallace, from Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society, 1858, vol. 3.

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57 Darwin, Charles (1809-1882).

On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. London: John Murray, 1859. The Origin of Species was published on Nov. 24, 1859. It sold out immediately, and went into a second printing. The book was intensely discussed in the ensuing months. Some naturalists, such as Thomas H. Huxley and Joseph Hooker, were immediately persuaded by Darwin’s arguments. Many others, such as Richard Owen and Louis Agassiz, found the arguments unconvincing. The debate has continued, in some sense, to the present day. In the Origin, Darwin presented a case for a new way of looking at the history of life on earth. Species are not fixed, said Darwin, but are continually being modified. Modification occurs because each generation produces variations among individuals, some harmful, some favorable. Because of the intense struggle for existence, any favorable variation will confer a slight advantage on that individual, giving it a better chance to survive and produce offspring. If it does, those offspring will inherit that variation, and the species will have slightly changed. Over thousands and millions of generations, the accumulation of changes is sufficient to produce not only new genera and species, but new classes and orders. Thus all living things are related, by descent from common ancestors. This descent with modification is what we now call evolution. Right: Titlepage of Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 1859.

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Is this a bad thing? Darwin didn’t think so. It does mean we can no longer look at nature as the product of design, and at species as fixed by some creative act. But to Darwin, it was even more wonderful that the world we see could have built itself, in some sense, from its bootstraps, by random variation and natural selection. As Darwin himself put it, in the last sentence of this book: There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Above: Portrait of Charles Darwin, from his Über die Entshehung der Arten im Thier- und Pflanzen-Reich durch natüliche Züchtung, 1863. This is the second German edition of the Origin of Species, and the only edition in any language to contain a portrait during Darwin’s lifetime.

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Right: European bee-eater, from John Gould, The Birds of Europe, 1837 (see item 32).

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Recommended Reading Haupt, Lyanda Lynn. Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons from Darwin’s Lost Notebooks. Boston: Little Brown, 2006.

Barber, Lynn. The Heyday of Natural History. Garden City: Doubleday, 1980. Blunt, Wilfrid. The Compleat Naturalist: A Life of Linnaeus. New York: Viking, 1971.

Keynes, Richard Darwin. Fossils, Finches, and Fuegians: Darwin’s Adventures and Discoveries on the Beagle. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Brosse, Jacques. Great Voyages of Discovery: Circumnavigators and Scientists, 1764-1843. New York: Facts on File, 1983.

Ogilvie, Brian W. The Science of Describing: Natural History in Renaissance Europe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Browne, Janet. Charles Darwin: Voyaging. Volume I of a Biography. New York: Knopf, 1995. Browne, Janet. Charles Darwin: The Power of Place. Volume II of a Biography. New York: Knopf, 2002.

Pauly, Daniel. Darwin’s Fishes: An Encyclopedia of Ichthyology, Ecology, and Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Browne, Janet. Darwin’s Origin of Species: A Biography. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006.

Rehbock, Philip F. The Philosophical Naturalists: Themes in Early Nineteenth-Century British Biology. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983.

Dance, S. Peter. The Art of Natural History: Animal Illustrators and their Work. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1978.

Rice, Anthony. Voyages of Discovery: Three Centuries of Natural History Exploration. New York: Clarkson Potter, 1999.

Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species: A Facsimile of the First Edition. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Rudwick, Martin J. S. The Meaning of Fossils: Episodes in the History of Palaeontology. Second ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.

Darwin, Charles; Costa, James T. The Annotated Origin: A Facsimile of the First Edition of On the Origin of Species. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009.

Stott, Rebecca. Darwin and the Barnacle: The Story of One Tiny Creature and History’s Most Spectacular Scientific Breakthrough. New York: Norton, 2003.

Farber, Paul Lawrence. Finding Order in Nature: The Naturalist Tradition from Linnaeus to E.O. Wilson. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Winsor, Mary P. Starfish, Jellyfish, and the Order of Life: Issues in Nineteenth-century Science. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976.

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Australian animals on the grounds of Malmaison, the estate of Napoleon’s wife, Josephine, from François Péron, Voyage de découvertes aux terres Australes, 1807-16 (see item 19).

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Index References are to exhibit item numbers; bold face indicates the main entry or entries.

Cowper, William......................................................................8 Curtis, William................................................................. 10, 35

Agassiz, Louis.................................................................. 44, 57

Cuvier, Georges....................................................39, 40, 41, 42,

Audubon, John James................................................. 34, 37, 38 Bachman, John.......................................................................38

Darwin, Charles..................................................... 4, 29, 30,33, 35,43, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57

Banks, Joseph.........................................................................18

Dioscorides...............................................................................1

Baudin, Nicolas......................................................................19

Donovan, Edward..................................................................16

Bell, Thomas..........................................................................49

Dumont d’Urville, Jules..........................................................27

Belon, Pierre.............................................................................4

Duperrey, Louis Isidore..........................................................21

Bessa, Pancrace.......................................................................21

Ehrenberg, Christian Gottfried..............................................28

Bevalet, Antoine Germain......................................................21

Ellis, John...............................................................................25

Bewick, Thomas............................................................... 15, 34

Faujas-de-St.-Fond, BarthĂŠlemy............................................40

Bocourt, Marie Firmin...........................................................55

Fitch, Walter Hood................................................................35

Bru, Juan Bautista...................................................................41

Fitzroy, Robert.................................................................. 35, 48

Brunfels, Otto...........................................................................2

Forbes, Edward.......................................................................29

Buchan, Alexander.................................................................18

Ford, Gerald...........................................................................33

Buffon, Georges............................................................... 11, 14

Freycinet, Louis de.................................................................20

Catesby, Mark.........................................................................12

Gaimard, Joseph Paul.............................................................20

Chambers, Robert..................................................................51

Gart der Gesundheit...................................................................1

Cipriani, Giovanni..................................................................18

Geoffrey Sainte-Hilaire, Isidore.............................................55

Cook, James............................................................................18

Gesner, Konrad.........................................................................3

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Gosse, Phillip Henry..............................................................30

Malthus, Thomas...................................................................50

Gould, Elizabeth........................................................ 32, 36, 49

Marcgraf, Georg.......................................................................5

Gould, John................................................................ 32, 36, 49

Martens, Conrad....................................................................48

Hawkesworth, John................................................................18

Mitford, Robert......................................................................34

Hawkins, Benjamin Waterhouse...................................... 45, 49

Müller, Otto Frederik....................................................... 23, 24

Henderson, Peter....................................................................31

Oudart, Pierre........................................................................32

Herschel, John........................................................................47

Owen, Richard................................................43, 45, 49, 55, 57

Hooke, Robert..........................................................................6

Péron, François................................................................. 19, 20

Hooker, Joseph Dalton......................................... 35, 53, 56, 57

Perrault, Claude........................................................................7

Hooker, William J............................................................ 35, 53

Piso, Willem.............................................................................5

Humboldt, Alexander von......................................................47

Prêtre, M................................................................................27

Huxley, Thomas Henry.................................................... 55, 57

Prevost, A...............................................................................20

Jenyns, Leonard......................................................................49

Quoy, Jean René Constant.....................................................20

Jurine, Louis...........................................................................26

Reynolds, James......................................................................45

Jurine, Miss............................................................................26

Richter, Henry Constantine...................................................36

King, Phillip Parker................................................................35

Rösel von Rosenhof, August...................................................13

Lamarck, Jean Baptiste..................................................... 17, 42

Schaeffer, Jacob Christian.......................................................23

Lear, Edward.................................................................... 32, 54

Scharf, George.................................................................. 43, 49

Lesueur, Charles.....................................................................19

Scheuchzer, Johann Jacob................................................. 39, 42

Lesson, René Primevère.........................................................22

Schoeffer, Peter.........................................................................1

Linné, Carl von....................9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 24, 26

Selby, Prideaux John......................................................... 34, 54

Linneann Society of London..................................................56

Smith, Andrew.......................................................................33

Lyell, Charles.........................................................................56

Solander, Daniel.....................................................................18

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Stephens, James Francis..........................................................46

Vestiges of Creation...................................................................51

Stubbs, George.......................................................................18

Vosmaer, Arnout.....................................................................14

Swammerdam, Jan..................................................................23

Wallace, Alfred Russel.................................................... 54, 56

Taunay, Adrien.......................................................................20

Waterhouse, George...............................................................49

Thornton, Robert John...........................................................31

Weiditz, Hans...........................................................................2

Tyson, Edward.........................................................................8

Wright, Charles......................................................................35

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