Frog to human evolution, 1777

Frog to human evolution, 1777

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Frog to human evolution. Rare first edition 1777 copperplate engraving from Johann Caspar Lavater's 'Physiognomy', a series of drawings showing the successive stages of a morphological transformation from a frog's head into the idealized profile of a human head. Described by Ross Woodrow (2009) as 'one of the most compellingly inventive images published in the early nineteenth century - with profound contemporary impact', it was copied many times. The images had resonance in evolutionary thought long before Darwin. Darwin himself had a heavily annotated copy of the ten-volume French edition which contained this image. It was however originally designed to show not evolution, but how faces can grade from the base (frog) to the grand (man) to affect our perception of beauty.

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Keywords: 1700s, 1777, 18th century, artwork, beauty, biological, biology, colored, coloured, darwin, engraving, evolution, evolutionary, face, fauna, first, french, frog, historical, history, human, illustration, johann caspar lavater, man, morphological, morphology, natural history, nature, no-one, nobody, physiognomy, pre-darwinian, profile, progression, sequence, series, theory, transmutation, zoological, zoology

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