Merian's 'Metamorphosis' (1683)

Merian's 'Metamorphosis' (1683)

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Merian's 'Metamorphosis' (1683). Hand-coloured frontispiece of the second volume of the book 'Metamorphosis' (1683) by German-born naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), named under her married name Graff. The title translates 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, accompanied by a text in which she described each stage. She also included parasites when she observed those from her own rearing experiments. Thus the book pioneered ecology in a way that had not been attempted before.

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