In Focus: Arabische Korallen

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This week’s In Focus feature is Arabische Korallen by Ernst Haeckel, published in 1876 in Berlin. Written in German, this book focuses on coral from the Red Sea and life in Egypt.

Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) was a scientist, naturalist, and illustrator whose works remain incredibly popular. His unique artistic style soon becomes easily recognizable. This lesser known work of his can be found in a digital version in Biodiversity Heritage Library thanks to Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.


This page shows the artistic style that Haeckel perfected. He combines multiple species in great detail on one page. Often with other types of biodiversity in his other works, he creates a scene with the species interacting with their environment.

For each figure above, Haeckel provides the German common name, the binomial nomenclature, the scientist responsible for the first discovery and naming of the species, and the taxonomic family for the species. The taxonomy for these corals (names in bold) has likely changed since the publishing of this work. When researching marine life taxonomy for Biodiversity Heritage Library, I frequently use World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), which is an excellent resource.

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Haeckel also included a detailed marine life illustration of a coral reef near Sinai, Egypt.

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If you look carefully, you’ll see numbers and Roman numerals along the sides of the illustration that correspond to this list of species. You can zoom in more easily on the page in BHL.


In addition to specimen illustrations, Haeckel captured life around Sinai, Egypt.

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This last scene is of the Red Sea, Sinai, and the mountains in Egypt.

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Discover more of Ernst Haeckel’s works in Biodiversity Heritage Library!


This week’s In Focus feature is Arabische Korallen, and it was contributed for digitization to BHL by Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.


In Focus: Catesby’s Natural History

Catesby's Natural History1st Ed., Vol. 1 (1731)

I am starting a new feature for 2018 called #HSAinFocus. In this series, I will select one particular scientific work to highlight across social media. To kick things off, I thought I would begin with one of my favorite works that was inspiration for creating HistSciArt.

Mark Catesby was an English naturalist, scientist, and scientific artist whose multi-volume series, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands was the first scientific work documenting the flora and fauna of North America. Volume 1 from the first edition was created over the period of 1729 to 1732, and this particular volume was digitized by Smithsonian Libraries for inclusion in Biodiversity Heritage Library. This volume covers many of the birds and plants that Catesby saw, including the now extinct Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) with a Swamp Cypress (Taxodium distichum) shown below.

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Carolina Parakeet with a Swamp Cypress

The header illustration features a Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea) with a Sweet Bay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana). Read more about digitizing Catesby’s remarkable works on Biodiversity Heritage Library’s blog, as well as another post about the taxonomy additions to BHL’s Flickr albums. I was able to add taxonomy to these images with the published research found in The Curious Mister Catesby (2015). You can also read about Catesby’s SciArt Methodology here.