1554 Gesner shark attack on man with ray

1554 Gesner shark attack on man with ray

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Sharks attacking a man, with a ray coming to help. Woodcut with old colouring. Gesner "Icones Animalium" publ. Christof Froschover, Zurich, 1560. This scene is copied by Gesner from an earlier map by Olaus Magnus and is one of the first to describe a shark attack. The text describes how a man is voraciously attacked by sharks (dogfish) - but then a ray appears to "avenge their crimes - armed by nature with its fins. In a rushing movement it drives of the waylayers who are dragging the man down, and urges him as best it can to swim away". Another contrasting interpretation however has been that fishermen believed the remoras on large rays brought the Ray human prey to devour! (Wendt 1956).

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Keywords: 16th century, animalium, animals, artwork, attack, behaviour, bestiary, colour, conrad, dogfish, early, folklore, gesner, gessner, historiae, icones, illustration, magnus, man, marine, middle ages, monster, myth, natural history, ray, sea, shark, woodcut

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