1683 Maria Sybella Merian Metamorphosis

1683 Maria Sybella Merian Metamorphosis

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Maria Sybella Merian 1683 Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta). Coloured transfer print that aimed to retain the naturalism of the original painting. From the second volume of her book translated as "Caterpillars, Their Wondrous Transformation and Peculiar Nourishment from Flowers" (or simply The Caterpillar Book). Merian first depicted metamorphosis of European butterflies and moths around a single plant and was accompanied by a text in which she described each stage. She also included parasites, shown here, when she observed those from her own rearing experiments.Thus the book pioneered ecology in a way that had not been attempted before. Because of her insights into metamorphosis David Attenborough has named her as among the most significant historical entomologists.Her work on the natural history of Surinam brought greater fame - but this book is her real contribution to science.

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Keywords: 1600s, 17th century, art, artist, butterfly, colour, ecology, engraving, entomology, female, frontis, griffin, illustration, illustrator, lepidoptera, maria, merian, painter, red admiral, science, scientist, surinam, sybella, sybellia, woman, woman scientist

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