Book Feature: Arabische Korallen

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Arabische Korallen (1875) by Ernst Haeckel is one of his lesser known publications. Written in German, this book blends scientific explorations of Red Sea coral and travel observations and anecdotes about life in Egypt.

Ernst Haeckel (16 February 1834 to 9 August 1919) was a scientist, naturalist, and scientific 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.

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Catesby’s Natural History

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

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.

Your Brain & Seahorses

Lined Seahorse (Hippocampus erectus)

Lined Seahorse (Hippocampus erectus).

Seahorses belong to the genus Hippocampus, and there are 47 different species. The word “hippocampus” comes from Greek, “hippos” for horse and “kampos” for sea monster! The human brain and the brains of most vertebrates have a structure called the hippocampus, which is involved in memory and internal brain communication.

This part of the brain was named after the seahorse. As you can see from the next image, the brain’s hippocampus and fornix closely resemble a seahorse.

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Professor Laszlo Seress’ preparation of a human hippocampus and fornix alongside a seahorse. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The featured illustration of a Lined Seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) is from George Perry’s Arcanae Naturae (1911), which was digitized by Smithsonian Libraries for contribution to Biodiversity Heritage Library. Learn more about seahorses from Project Seahorse and the Ocean Portal of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.