Archives of natural history, Volume 38, No. 1 (2011)
Archives of natural history, Volume 38, No. 1 (April 2011) is available online at Edinburgh University Press.
N. P. HELLSTROM: The tree as evolutionary icon: TREE in the Natural History Museum, London (William T. Stearn Prize 2010)
G. MANGANELLI, A. BENOCCI & V. SPADINI: Biagio Bartalini’s “Catalogo dei corpi marini fossili che si trovano intorno a Siena” (1776).
C. E. JACKSON: The painting of hand-coloured zoological illustrations.
C. E. JACKSON: The materials and methods of hand-colouring zoological illustrations.
R. A. BAKER & R. A. BAYLISS: The Valencia Harbour survey (1895 and 1896) in Ireland, with special reference to the work of Edward Thomas Browne (1866–1937).
T. W. PIETSCH: Charles Plumier’s “Manicou Caraibarum” (c. 1690): a previously unpublished description and drawing of the common opossum, Didelphis marsupialis Linnaeus, 1758.
B. MORTON: The Great Barrier Reef Expedition’s “Coral Corroboree”, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 10 July 1928: an historical portent.
E. C. NELSON: “A botanical encampment at the foot of Ben Voirlich June 22d. 1821” by Robert Kaye Greville, and a Scottish beetle.
E. C. NELSON & D. M. PORTER: Archibald Menzies on Albemarle Island, Galápagos archipelago, 7 February 1795.
K. J. LAMBKIN: The golden geyser – Robert Logan Jack and the geology of Mount Morgan, Queensland.
E. ROTA: Early oligochaete science, from Aristotle to Francesco Redi.
P. A. COCHRAN: On the identity of Samuel de Champlain’s “chaousarou”.
J. J. F. J. JANSEN: Sale catalogue of Adriaan Vroeg’s collection in the National Library of Australia, Canberra.
P. G. MOORE: Briefly befitting breffits.
R. B. WILLIAMS: The artists and wood-engravers for Thomas Bell’s History of British quadrupeds.
J. P. HODGES: Mode of address of the nineteenth-century naturalist P. H. Gosse.
G. MANGANELLI & A. BENOCCI: Niccolò Gualtieri (1688–1744): biographical sketch of a pioneer of conchology.
P. DASZKIEWICZ: Feliks Jarocki’s Zoologiia czyli zwierzętopismo (1821–1838): an example of scientific misconduct in the nineteenth century.
Archives of natural history, Volume 38, No. 1 (2011) Abstracts
N. P. HELLSTRÖM: The tree as evolutionary icon: TREE in the Natural History Museum, London.*
(* An earlier version of this paper was awarded the William T. Stearn Student Essay Prize of the Society for the History of Natural History for 2010. This prize, instituted in honour of the late William T. Stearn, a scholar whose work contributed much to the history of natural history and to this Society, is awarded annually to the best original, unpublished essay written by an undergraduate or postgraduate student.)
As part of the Darwin celebrations in 2009, the Natural History Museum in London unveiled TREE, the first contemporary artwork to win a permanent place in the Museum. While the artist claimed that the inspiration for TREE came from Darwin’s famous notebook sketch of branching evolution, sometimes referred to as his “tree of life” drawing, this article emphasises the apparent incongruity between Darwin’s sketch and the artist’s design – best explained by other, complementary sources of inspiration. In the context of the Museum’s active participation in struggles over science and religion, the effect of the new artwork is contradictory. TREE celebrates Darwinian evolutionism, but it resonates with deep-rooted, mythological traditions of tree symbolism to do so. This complicates the status of the Museum space as one of disinterested, secular science, but it also contributes, with or without the intentions of the Museum’s management, to consolidate two sometimes conflicting strains within the Museum’s history. TREE celebrates human effort, secular science and reason – but it also evokes long-standing mythological traditions to inspire reverence and remind us of our humble place in this world.
KEY WORDS: Charles Darwin – Richard Owen – tree of life – science and religion – science and art
G. MANGANELLI, A. BENOCCI & VALERIANO SPADINI: Biagio Bartalini’s “Catalogo dei corpi marini fossili che si trovano intorno a Siena” (1776).
In 1776, the Sienese botanist Biagio Bartalini (1750–1822) published a catalogue of wild plants growing around Siena, adding an appendix on fossils found in the same area, that is the first monograph on Sienese fossils and one of the first works of its kind in Italy. This paper provides tentative identifications of the species and an analysis of the value and meaning of Bartalini’s work.
The catalogue reports 72 species, each denoted by a list of names applied to analogous living taxa. Identification of single entities is extremely problematical because it can only be attempted through analysis of the literature, since the original material cannot be traced.
The most interesting report is the first record of a Euro-Mediterranean Pliocene species of Sthenorytis (Gastropoda, Epitoniidae). Though important, the catalogue is incomplete, with oversights and mistakes, suggesting little familiarity with the subject. Shortcomings include some inconsistencies in the species sequence, the report of giant clams and the absence of molluscs ubiquitous in the Sienese Pliocene and sharks. Nor is it true that it is the first Italian palaeontological work in which binomial nomenclature was used, as sometimes claimed.
KEY WORDS: palaeontology – malacology – Accademia dei Fisiocritici – eighteenth-century naturalists – binomial nomenclature – Sthenorytis
Il botanico senese Biagio Bartalini (1750–1822) pubblicò nel 1776 un inventario delle piante spontanee dei dintorni di Siena, al quale aggiunse un catalogo di fossili raccolti nella stessa area, che costituisce la prima rassegna sui fossili senesi e una delle prime opere di questo genere in Italia. Il catalogo elenca 72 entità, ciascuna designata da una serie di nomi con cui venivano indicate analoghe specie viventi. La loro identificazione è estremamente problematica e può essere tentata soltanto attraverso l’analisi delle fonti bibliografiche e iconografiche, in quanto il materiale originale non è rintracciabile. Il dato faunistico più interessante è costituito dalla prima segnalazione del genere Sthenorytis (Gastropoda, Epitoniidae) per il Pliocene dell’area euro-mediterranea. Nonostante l’interesse che riveste, il catalogo appare incompleto e contiene errori e omissioni che lasciano trapelare una scarsa familiarità dell’autore con la paleontologia, tra cui alcune incongruenze nella sequenza delle specie, la segnalazione di tridacne e l’assenza di alcuni gruppi di molluschi gasteropodi ubiquitari nel Pliocene Senese e degli squali. Infine, diversamente da quanto talora sostenuto, quest’opera non rappresenta il primo lavoro paleontologico italiano in cui viene adottata la nomenclatura binomiale.
PAROLE CHIAVE: paleontologia – malacologia – Accademia dei Fisiocritici – naturalisti del diciottesimo secolo – nomenclatura binomiale – Sthenorytis
C. E. JACKSON: The painting of hand-coloured zoological illustrations
Millions of hand-coloured illustrations were incorporated in zoological books and journals between about 1710 and 1925. All the combined skills of the artists, etchers, engravers and lithographers, to produce good and accurate figures for these illustrations could be ruined by bad colouring. Yet we know the names of very few colourists who undertook this vital part of the publishing process. The identity of some of the British colourists, their working conditions and wages, and their method of working have been established from many scattered sources.
KEY WORDS: colourists working at home – colouring establishments – working conditions – pay – costs
C. E. JACKSON: The materials and methods of hand-colouring zoological illustrations
Thousands of colourists were employed to hand-colour illustrations in zoological books and journals during two centuries. They followed pattern plates that were prints with monochrome outlines coloured by the artist for them to copy. Accounts of the materials that they used, and the methods employed to achieve fine coloured plates closely resembling the original water-colours, have been collected from many documents.
KEY WORDS: paper – brushes – paints – pattern plates
R. A. BAKER & R. A. BAYLISS: The Valencia Harbour survey (1895 and 1896) in Ireland, with special reference to the work of Edward Thomas Browne (1866–1937)
In 1895 and 1896 a group of English naturalists led by Edward Thomas Browne visited Ireland to carry out survey work in Valencia Harbour, which involved shore collecting, dredging and sampling the pelagic fauna. The area was selected because of the rich fauna in the harbour and the railway connection, but more importantly the presence of the Reverend Alexander Delap and his family who were naturalists. Browne, assisted by Gamble, organized the two visits and team work with other scientists produced the Royal Irish Academy report based on their findings.
KEY WORDS: marine biology – invertebrates – Ireland – Delap family
T. W. PIETSCH: Charles Plumier’s “Manicou Caraibarum” (c. 1690): a previously unpublished description and drawing of the common opossum, Didelphis marsupialis Linnaeus, 1758
A previously unpublished description and drawing of the common opossum, Didelphis marsupialis Linnaeus, 1758, made by French Minim friar Charles Plumier (1646– 1704) during the first (1689–1690) of three voyages of exploration to the West Indies, are presented and compared with earlier depictions, especially that of Georg Marcgrave (1610–1644) in his Historiae rerum naturalium Brasiliae of 1648. Evidence is presented to emphasis the originality and scientific accuracy of Plumier’s account.
KEY WORDS: Carigueya – iconography – Caribbean – Martinique – Vicente Yáñez Pinzón – Martin Waldseemüller – Francisco Hernández – Georg Marcgrave
B. MORTON: The Great Barrier Reef Expedition’s “Coral Corroboree”, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 10 July 1928: an historical portent
On their arrival in Brisbane from Great Britain, biological members of the Great Barrier Reef Expedition were invited to a welcoming dinner on 10 July 1928. The copy of C. M. Yonge’s (the expedition’s leader) dinner menu survives and is signed by, presumably, all attendees. At first glance, the menu appears to comprise exotic Australian seafood courses but closer examination suggests these are mostly amusing epithets for basic fare perhaps to create bonhomie. Queensland interest in the expedition’s aims was concerned with the fisheries potential of the reef and its waters and the dinner menu may thus have also represented a more subtle enjoinder to the British guests. Other guests at the dinner hosted by H. C. Richards, Chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Committee, have been identified from their signatures and, in addition to expedition members, comprise representatives of the committee, senior scientists from the University of Queensland, State officials and local dignitaries. Expedition members departed for Low Isles on the following morning.
KEY WORDS: welcoming dinner – expedition’s aims – commercial potential – fishery resources
E. C. NELSON: “A botanical encampment at the foot of Ben Voirlich June 22d. 1821” by Robert Kaye Greville, and a Scottish beetle
A lithograph and an “etching” depicting the same botanical excursion into the Scottish Highlands in June 1821 led by Professor William Jackson Hooker are reunited. The encampment depicted was on the west shore of Loch Lomond at the base of Ben Vorlich in Dunbartonshire. The participants probably included John Scouler and David Douglas, but a French entomologist, Charles Nodier, missed the excursion. A few weeks afterwards in the Highlands Nodier found some insects he did not recognize and named one, a beetle, after Hooker.
KEY WORDS: Scotland – Ben Lomond – William Jackson Hooker – Charles Nodier – Carabus hookeri
E. C. NELSON & D. M. PORTER: Archibald Menzies on Albemarle Island, Galápagos archipelago, 7 February 1795
Menzies made the earliest extant botanical collections in the Galápagos; five sheets, representing three endemic species, are known. Menzies’s own account of the visit is also extant and is transcribed here from his manuscript journal.
KEY WORDS: Isla Isabela – Archipiélago de Colón – George Vancouver – flora – herbarium specimens
K. J. LAMBKIN: The golden geyser – Robert Logan Jack and the geology of Mount Morgan, Queensland
In 1884 the highly respected Queensland Government Geologist, Robert Logan Jack, was sent to inspect and report on a new gold discovery at Mount Morgan in central Queensland. The find was rumoured to be both rich and geologically unique. Jack was bewildered by the form, structure and exceptional richness of the ore that was being quarried in bulk from the summit of Mount Morgan and in response he proposed the radical theory that the deposit represented the outpourings of an extinct gold-bearing thermal spring. The surface ore was in reality the enriched supergene zone of a massive sulphide ore body, a fact that became more and more evident as the deposit was opened up by subsequent mining activity. Jack’s theory of a gold spouting geyser, however, had captured the public imagination, and this, as well as factors related to Jack himself and his relationship with the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company, gave the theory a life well beyond that justified by the growing evidence of the true nature of the deposit.
KEY WORDS: Australia – gold – geological survey – thermal spring
E. ROTA: Early oligochaete science, from Aristotle to Francesco Redi
The paper reviews knowledge on earthworms from early classical times to the end of the seventeenth century. The Aristotelian view that these “imperfect” animals developed spontaneously from mud and lacked internal organs except the gut was not challenged until the late Renaissance but, by the end of the 1600s, it was overthrown. Aldrovandi and Mouffet presented field observations of sexual reproduction and specific habitat requirements. Willis demonstrated the complex internal anatomy of an earthworm. Finally Redi, based on numberless dissections, showed the existence of variations on that basic anatomical plan, which anyway remained distinct from that of parasitic worms. Through a series of controlled laboratory tests, Redi also proved that earthworms have a physiology of their own and are most sensible to water loss. In those same years, Swammerdam investigated earthworm cocoons nursing them in his room, and Tyson discovered earthworms’ hermaphroditism. Two significant interpretations of earthworm’s locomotion, by Fabrici ab Aquapendente and Borelli, also belong to this period, but were both short-lived in their influence. An awareness of the ecological role of earthworms in pedogenesis and soil fertility did not emerge until the late eighteenth century.
KEY WORDS: earthworms – anatomy – locomotion – reproduction – hermaphroditism – medical use