Monday, October 17, 2011

De Aquatilibus

'Petri Bellonii Cenomani De aquatilibus, libri duo cum [epsilon, iota] conibus ad viuam ipsorum effigiem, quoad eius fieri potuit, expressis ...'; 1553 {Pierre Belon}


Dolphin's skull

Caput Salmonis foeminae

Sepia latinis

Poupre Gallis

Sea Serpent


Monk fish

Vulpecula Italica (Porco marino)

Pesce forca

Cammarus Latinis

Gallo de Mare

Muscarolo Neapolitanis

Stella Solis

Sea Eagle

Sea Horse

Physician, polymath, traveller, artist and naturalist, Pierre Belon (1517- 1564), was most famously a founding protagonist for the phenomenon of homology in comparative anatomy. He obtained his medical degree at the University of Paris and, under the patronage of King Francis I, Belon was sent on diplomatic missions abroad which allowed him to study the wildlife of the eastern Mediterranean.

Belon was regarded as a great savant of the 16th century and he is one of the initiators of modern natural history. The appearance in 1553 of Belon's work on fish, molluscs and aquatic mammals - 'De Aquatilibus' - constituted the greatest single advance in the scientific study and classification of fish since Aristotle. It was a standard ichthyology text well into the 17th century, before it was superseded.

"In the 'Aquatilibus' are described a hundred and ten fishes, of which twenty-two are cartilaginous, seventeen fresh-water, and the rest sea fishes. . . . The figures representing them are easily recognizable, not-withstanding the simplicity of the style of the wood-engravings.

'His philosophical mind had a very correct appreciation of the genera. His groupings were made with a surprisingly just instinct. To an indefatigable activity he joined vast erudition. He brought to the front the study of nature and of the books that treat of it. . . . The feature that especially prepared new bases for the science of fishes was his observations on the thoracic and abdominal splanchnology of those animals.'" [source]
In 1564, Belon was on his way to visit a friend and stopped to pick herbs in the Bois de Boulogne (a Parisian forest) when he was attacked and killed by robber bandits. He was 47 years old.

human and bird skeleton drawings side-by-side

1 comment :

Will said...

I visited your front page to check how you configure something, and got the too-rare opportunity to see one of your posts here before seeing it on RSS. And because I was not expecting a new post, it was a Double-Wow. Excellent as always.

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