Science Art: Alligator and Snake by Maria Sibylla Merian

An illustration by Maria Sibylla Graff Merian, daughter of an engraver, step-daughter of a painter and careful observer of the natural world. She carefully documented the steps through which butterflies came from caterpillars and caterpillars came from eggs, decisively pointing out that, contrary to scientists’ opinions, they weren’t spontaneously generated from rotting mud.

In the late 1600s, a recently divorced mother of two daughters, she traveled from Holland to Surinam, where her eldest had married a merchant. She spent two years cataloging tropical plants and animals – and criticizing the slave trade.

From Wikipedia: The German word Vogelspinne—mygalomorphae, translated literally as bird spider—probably has its origins in an engraving by Maria Sibylla Merian. The engraving, created from sketches drawn in Surinam, shows a large spider who had just captured a bird. However to this day, no cases are known of a mygalomorphae hunting a bird.

[via Crotalinae]

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