The Cephalopoda of the Hawaiian Islands


A little something for Darwin Day, and a collection of illustrations I hadn’t seen before. The Cephalopoda of the Hawaiian Islands (1914) is another title in the splendid (and huge) collection of the Biodiversity Heritage Library whose Flickr sets have been linked here before. Some of those prior examples have ended up being collaged into Lovecraftian entities so there’s always the possibility of that happening to one or two of these illustrations in the future.





Previously on { feuilleton }
Vampyroteuthis Infernalis by Vilém Flusser
Le Poulpe Colossal
Fascinating tentacula

The specimen jars of Frederik Ruysch


Some plates for Darwin Day from Thesaurus Animalium Primus (1710) by Dutch botanist and anatomist Frederik Ruysch. As is evident from these examples, Ruysch wasn’t above some frivolous indulgence when it came to illustrating his scientific texts, and he often gathered specimens into little tableaux which verge on the bizarre, such as the conjunction below of a child’s arm and a hatching turtle. Gone are the days when a renowned man of science might be depicted plucking at the entrails of a dead baby. This site has more about Ruysch’s specimens while BibliOdyssey posted some examples of Ruysch’s anatomical tableaux (with baby skeletons this time) and links to the books which contain them.


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Darwin at 200

Darwin at 200


Man is But a Worm by Edward Linley Sambourne (1882).

Happy birthday Charles Darwin. The reaction to Darwin’s work from Punch and other journals was typical. While his studies remain controversial among those who believe there were dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark, his life and work are now celebrated on the Bank of England’s Ten Pound Note (but with the wrong kind of bird, it seems). Dogmatists take note: the Vatican is no longer on your side:

Father Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti, Professor of Theology at the Pontifical Santa Croce University in Rome, said that Darwin had been anticipated by St Augustine of Hippo. The 4th-century theologian had “never heard the term evolution, but knew that big fish eat smaller fish” and that forms of life had been transformed “slowly over time”. Aquinas had made similar observations in the Middle Ages, he added.

He said it was time that theologians as well as scientists grappled with the mysteries of genetic codes and “whether the diversification of life forms is the result of competition or cooperation between species”. As for the origins of Man, although we shared 97 per cent of our “genetic inheritance” with apes, the remaining 3 per cent “is what makes us unique”, including religion.

“I maintain that the idea of evolution has a place in Christian theology,” Professor Tanzella-Nitti added.

Edward Linley Sambourne provided Punch with many caricatures of Victorian notables including the famous one of Oscar Wilde undergoing his own process of evolution by turning into a sunflower.

Dawkins on Darwin

Previously on { feuilleton }
“Weirdsley Daubery”: Beardsley and Punch
The Poet and the Pope