1825 Waterton's Taxidermy Nondescript

1825 Waterton's Taxidermy Nondescript

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: 1825 "A Nondescript" drawn by T.H. Foljambe engraved on copper (with later tinting) by I.W. Lowry, being the frontispiece to Charles Waterton's "Wanderings in South America" J. Mawman, London (1825). The specimen is derived from a howler monkey (some say its head, others its rump) and shows Waterton's unique skills and method of Taxidermy which employed a sublimate of mercury and hollow specimens, to reform shape. It is clear from Waterton's own jocular account that it was a prank. He is said to have admitted in later life that it was given the likeness of J.R. Lushington, secretary to the UK Treasury who had levied heavy import duties on his specimens. But Waterton's own account strongly hints at two more serious motives for the hoax. To prove his unrivalled skills at taxidermy and to make the point that a monkey cannot be turned into a man (this question was argued long before Darwin).

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Keywords: artwork, charles waterton, evolution, fake, fraud, hoax, howler monkey, human, illustration, mercury, monster, nondescript, taxidermy, waterton

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