Archives of natural history, Volume 40 Pt 2 (2013)
The following papers and short notes have been formally accepted and published in Archives of natural history 40.2 in print and online in October 2013.
A. KENNEDY: The beauty of Victorian beasts: illustration in the Reverend J. G. Wood’s Homes without hands (W. T. Stearn Prize 2012).
A. PÉQUIGNOT: The rhinoceros (fl. 1770–1793) of King Louis XV and its horns
P. G. MOORE: Behind the scenes of Scottish researches into agar supply during the 1940s.
H. FUNK: Adam Zalužanský’s “De sexu plantarum” (1592): an early pioneering chapter on plant sexuality.
P. SENTER & V. B. SNOW: Solution to a 300-year-old zoological mystery: the case of Thomas Bartholin’s merman.
A. M. LUCAS: Zoological eponyms honouring the botanist Ferdinand von Mueller.
G. N. H. WALLER: Note on James Sowerby and the discovery of Sowerby’s beaked whale, Mesoplodon bidens.
R. A. GALBREATH & P. J. CAMERON: The introduction of the eleven-spotted ladybird Coccinella undecimpunctata to New Zealand in 1874: the first use of a ladybird for biological control, or a spurious record created by cumulative misreporting?
J. P. d’HUART, M. NOWAK-KEMP & T. M. BUTYNSKI: A seventeenth-century warthog skull in Oxford, England.
A. HOLLIER and J. HOLLIER: A re-evaluation of the nineteenth-century naturalist Henri de Saussure.
A. M. LUCAS: James Rennie (1786–1867) in Australia, 1840–1867.
Y. SAMYN, A. SMIRNOV & C. MASSIN: Carl Gottfried Semper (1832–1893) and the location of his type specimens of sea cucumbers.
S. L. OLSON & C. LEVY: Eleazar Albin in Don Saltero’s coffee-house in 1736: how the Jamaican mango hummingbird got its name, Trochilus mango.
H. W. LACK: Nikolaus Joseph Jacquin’s enigmatic Icones selectarum stirpium americanarum (1797).
L. K. OVERSTREET: Inscribed copy of Animal life on the shores of the Clyde and Firth.
G. BOANO & G. AIMASSI: Bonelli’s record of the demoiselle crane, Grus virgo from Piedmont, Italy.
P. G. MOORE: Sea spiders misrepresented (1887) as crustacean parasites of cetaceans.
E. C. NELSON: The Catesby brothers and the early eighteenth-century natural history of Gibraltar.
J. P. d’HUART, M. NOWAK-KEMP & T. M. BUTYNSKI: A seventeenth-century French painting of a warthog.
ANDREA KENNEDY:The beauty of Victorian beasts: illustration in the Reverend J. G. Wood’s Homes without hands
The Reverend John George Wood (1827–1889) was a successful popularizer of natural history in the Victorian era. His Illustrated natural history (1853) and Common objects series (1857–1858) have been written about extensively. However, historians have largely ignored his most successful book, Homes without hands, in spite of its exquisite designs and profound connections with natural domesticity. In addition, little research has been conducted on the illustrations that appear across Wood’s publications, despite their great popularity during his lifetime. This article examines the creation, popularization and methods of communication of this beautiful natural history book. A work explicitly about animal dwellings, Homes without hands was exceedingly popular during its time, as will be shown through an analysis of previously unpublished impression and sales records from the Longman’s publishing archive at Reading University. Furthermore, this article will reveal Wood’s use of advanced methods in printing and engraving technologies, which made Homes without hands more accessible to the public, particularly through the use of electrotype. In addition, Wood adapted his illustrations for the sake of uniting pleasing aesthetics with scientific representations. Wood’s proactive involvement in the illustrative processes of the book ensured that his vision was fully enacted in the final designs. There were elements of danger and domesticity present throughout Wood’s work, which functioned as a method for enticing readership and communicating social and religious messages. This will be revealed through a close analysis of a few specific illustrations. Wood dynamically united illustration and text to create a useful domestic piece of natural history, for and about the home. This article seeks to combine methods of examination of both natural history illustration and literature through the investigation of a single book, to better communicate how works of Victorian natural history functioned as a whole.
A. PÉQUIGNOT: The rhinoceros (fl. 1770–1793) of King Louis XV and its horns
While receiving remarkable animals as presents was a common practice among European monarchs, the rhinoceros of Louis XV (Rhinoceros unicornis) became one of the most famous. The live male Indian rhinoceros was a gift to the King from Jean-Baptiste Chevalier, French governor of Chandannagar in West Bengal. It left Calcutta on 22 December 1769, and arrived in the port of Lorient, Brittany, six months later on 11 June 1770. From there it was transported to the royal menagerie in Versailles, which had been built in response to increasing interest in zoology and Louis XIV’s passion for the exotic, in 1664. When the rhinoceros died in 1793, having been in captivity in France for more than 20 years, its skeleton and stuffed hide were preserved and have been held since then in the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris. Here it remains on exhibition as an almost three-hundred year old relic of R. unicornis, an invaluable source for museum studies and the history of taxidermy. Why the original horn of this rhinoceros was replaced by a much longer one, and why, in turn, this was replaced by a short one is discussed.
P. G. MOORE: Behind the scenes of Scottish researches into agar supply during the 1940s
Attention is drawn to correspondence in the Sheina Marshall archive at Millport concerning wartime efforts, led by Andrew Picken Orr, to find a satisfactory substitute for Japanese agar for bacteriological and other strategic commercial uses. The practical difficulties of finding, collecting and drying the considerable quantities of red seaweed (notably Mastocarpus stellatus (syn. Gigartina stellata) and Chondrus crispus) needed for a range of applications are evident in the correspondence, as was the need for confidentiality. Research funding was also an issue. International rivalries (as between Eire and the United Kingdom) are apparent, as are inter-departmental and inter-personal frustrations at a time of national emergency. Commercial production of British agar from these seaweeds was to be undertaken by the manufacturing firm of Paines and Byrne in Middlesex. As a result of the experimental researches at Millport, royalties under that firm’s protected patent for the agar production process were negotiated for Orr and Marshall.
HOLGER FUNK: Adam Zalužanský’s “De sexu plantarum” (1592): an early pioneering chapter on plant sexuality
In the history of botany, Adam Zalužanský (d. 1613), a Bohemian physician, apothecary, botanist and professor at the University of Prague, is a little-known personality. Linnaeus’s first biographers, for example, only knew Zalužanský from hearsay and suspected he was a native of Poland. This ignorance still pervades botanical history. Zalužanský is mentioned only peripherally or not at all. As late as the nineteenth century, a researcher would be unaware that Zalužanský’s main work Methodi herbariae libri tres actually existed in two editions from two different publishers (1592, Prague; 1604, Frankfurt). This paper introduces the life and work of Zalužanský. Special attention is paid to the chapter “De sexu plantarum” of Zalužanský’s Methodus, in which, more than one hundred years before the well-known De sexu plantarum epistola of R. J. Camerarius, the sexuality of plants is suggested. Additionally, for the first time, an English translation of Zalužanský’s chapter on plant sexuality is provided.
PHIL SENTER and VERNETTA B. SNOW: Solution to a 300-year-old zoological mystery: the case of Thomas Bartholin’s merman
In 1654 Dutch anatomist Thomas Bartholin published an illustration of a skeletal forelimb and a rib from an animal that had been caught off the coast of Brazil. Bartholin identified the specimen as a merman. Subsequent authors have hypothesized that it was a human with sirenomelia (fused legs). However, it is now acknowledged that mer-people are mythical and the drawing of the specimen does not match expected morphology for a human with sirenomelia. Until now, therefore, the correct identity of the specimen has remained unknown. Bartholin gave details on the specimen’s size and added that before it was skeletonized the fingers were joined by a common membrane. We therefore compared Bartholin’s illustration with the forelimb skeletons of west Atlantic marine animals of appropriate size in which the fingers are embedded in a flipper. The morphology of the specimen matches that of a manatee (Trichechus sp.) and is significantly different from that of the Caribbean monk seal (Monachus tropicalis) and from those of whales (Cetacea). The specimen was therefore a manatee, and a three-century-old zoological mystery is solved.
A. M. LUCAS: Zoological eponyms honouring the botanist, Ferdinand von Mueller
Ferdinand von Mueller, Government Botanist of Victoria from 1853 to 1896 was commemorated in a large number of zoological species, mostly as a result of his export of specimens to European museums.
G. N. H. WALLER: Note on James Sowerby and the discovery of Sowerby’s beaked whale, Mesoplodon bidens
James Sowerby’s life in London, his zoological works, and his natural history collections are briefly reviewed. The location and date of the stranding and subsequent description of the type specimen of Mesoplodon bidens is discussed. This and other information pertaining to the two original publications by Sowerby is reviewed and the history of the type cranium and mandible is described.
R. A. GALBREATH and P. J.CAMERON: The introduction of the eleven-spotted ladybird Coccinella undecimpunctata to New Zealand in 1874: the first use of a ladybird for biological control, or a spurious record created by cumulative misreporting?
The introduction of the eleven-spotted ladybird Coccinella undecimpunctata to New Zealand in 1874 has been widely quoted as the first importation of an insect for biological control in New Zealand and one of the first anywhere. However, searches of historical records show no evidence that such an introduction was made or attempted. Instead, there is clear evidence that the presently accepted record arose by a process of cumulative misreporting. An account of discussions in the Entomological Society of London in December 1873 about possible introductions of various beneficial insects to New Zealand was misreported by the American entomologist C. V. Riley, and several subsequent authors restated his version with further modifications and additions. This created the record of the introduction of C. undecimpunctata to New Zealand in 1874 that has been accepted and repeated ever since.
J. P. d’HUART, M. NOWAK-KEMP and T. M. BUTYNSKI: A seventeenth-century warthog skull in Oxford, England
There are two widely recognized species of warthog: the Cape warthog, Phacochoerus aethiopicus (Pallas, 1766), and the common warthog, P. africanus (Gmelin, 1788). On this basis, it has been assumed that the first warthog specimens arrived in Europe in about 1766. This paper documents the discovery of a common warthog skull in the Tradescant Collection at Oxford University Museum of Natural History (OUMNH) that probably reached Europe sometime between 1656 and 1678, and that was listed in the Ashmolean Museum 1685 catalogue. This specimen represents the oldest evidence for a warthog in Europe. The skull pre-dates the 1766 naming of the Cape warthog by more than 80 years, and the 1788 naming of the common warthog by at least 100 years. It is surprising that this skull was never the subject of scientific investigations. This is particularly astonishing as, prior to being transferred to the OUMNH in the 1860s, it was in the Ashmolean Museum from at least 1685.
A. HOLLIER and J. HOLLIER: A re-evaluation of the nineteenth-century naturalist Henri de Saussure
The nineteenth-century Swiss entomologist Henri de Saussure is probably better known today as the father of linguist Férdinand de Saussure than as a scientist in his own right. In this context, it is his personality rather than his work that has attracted attention, encouraged by the availability of letters and diaries in which he expresses himself openly on personal matters. This paper presents an overview of his life that includes analysis of his scientific contribution in order to give a more balanced assessment. Examination of his publications confirms his importance as a taxonomist, and shows interesting trends in his approach. He was also notable for his cultivation of a wide network of collaborators and for the way he used his status to enhance the collections of the Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Genève.
A. M. LUCAS: James Rennie (1786–1867) in Australia, 1840–1867
The Royal Literary Fund supported the migration of James Rennie (1787–1867) to Australia, and his later applications to it reveal details of his life there, and help establish that he was not elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, but has been confused with James Rennie FRS (1806–1883).
YVES SAMYN, ALEXEI SMIRNOV and CLAUDE MASSIN: Carl Gottfried Semper (1832–1893) and the location of his type specimens of sea cucumbers
Carl Gottfried Semper (1832–1893), German naturalist, produced one of the most influential monographs in the history of sea-cucumber systematics (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea). This work, based on one of the most extensive collections of his time, introduced nearly a hundred taxa new to science. Unfortunately, Semper’s collection subsequently became increasingly fragmented, and many of his types soon became considered as lost. We trace the history of Semper’s holothuroid collection and report the location of many of the purported missing types.
STORRS L. OLSON and CATHERINE LEVY: Eleazar Albin in Don Saltero’s coffee-house in 1736: how the Jamaican mango hummingbird got its name, Trochilus mango
The Jamaican hummingbird that Eleazar Albin called the “Mango Bird”, which was the basis for the Linnean name Trochilus mango, is shown likely to have been based on a specimen he saw in Don Saltero’s Coffee-House in Chelsea, London, in 1736, that was probably a gift of Sir Hans Sloane. The name “mango-bird” has long been in wide use for certain south Asian orioles, especially the Indian Golden Oriole (Oriolus kundoo), at least one specimen and nest of which was also on display in Don Saltero’s. Albin’s text concerning two species of Jamaican hummingbirds contains numerous dubious or erroneous statements and his use of “Mango Bird” for the hummingbird was most likely a lapsus confounding another bird he had heard of at Don Saltero’s, particularly in light of the fact that the mango tree (Mangifera indica) was not introduced into Jamaica until 1782. Thus, the modern use of the word “mango” in connection with an entire group of hummingbirds arose through a purely fortuitous mistake and the birds never had any association with the mango tree.
H. WALTER LACK: Nikolaus Joseph Jacquin’s enigmatic Icones selectarum stirpium americanarum (1797)
Nikolaus Joseph Jacquin’s extremely rare Icones selectarum stirpium americanarum (1797) are shown to be a re-issue of the plates contained in Jacquin’s Selectarum stirpium americanarum historia (1763) plus a new title page and three pages of revised captions. Like the original version this re-issue was published by Aloys Blumauer in Vienna and stands in accord with the liberalized regulations concerning the freedom of the press issued by Emperor Joseph II.