Science Art: Resplendent Trogon, J.G. Wood’s Illustrated Natural History 1898

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This is the resplendent trogon, a Mexican bird known formally, nowadays, as Pharomachrus mocinno, and once upon a time as Trogon resplendens. In other words, it’s a quetzal. The bird shares its name with the god Quetzalcoatl, the main character in all those massive pyramid carvings the Mayans made in centuries gone by.

The funny thing is that all these names basically mean “long, pretty feathers.” Quetzals have long tail feathers, and the god was a feathered serpent. Trogon resplendens literally means resplendent nibbler which is really kind of sexy, if you think about it.

Reverend John George Wood might not have approved of the sexiness of the nibbling, but the resplendence? Yeah, he definitely had an eye for that. This painting is from his Illustrated Natural History, copied by a lithographer named Louis Prang from original illustrations by Alfred Brehm, both of which names also now sound dirty to me. Perhaps it’s just been a long week.

Found, as so many good things are, on Old Book Illustrations.