Science Art: Chiton from Brehm’s Tierleben, 1860s

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A pair of chitons, playing catch. Or sleeping. Or enjoying a good meal. Or singing a chiton opera.

With chitons, it’s very hard to tell the difference.

The image is from Brehm’s Tierleben or Brehm’s Life of Animals, a German illustrated encyclopedia from the 1860s, by way of Wikimedia Commons.

Alfred Brehm, who drew it, led a good life. He left architecture school to go explore Africa with an ornithologist friend, and never really looked back. When he returned to Germany, it was to study natural history. His classmates called him “Pharaoh,” and he wound up making a living traveling around, drawing sketches of living things and giving lectures on the wonders of nature. Between his trips, he served as director of the Hamburg Zoo and opened an aquarium in Berlin.

Alfred Brehm died after his youngest son contracted a fatal case of diptheria. He was on a lecture tour of the United States at the time, and the strain from the news brought on a relapse of malaria. The travel writer and illustrator who had voyaged around the world spent the summer of 1884 in the town where he was born, Renthendorf, and died that November.

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  1. The Guild of Scientific Troubadours » Blog Archive » Science Art: Chimpanzee, from Brehm’s Tierleben, 1860s.
  2. The Guild of Scientific Troubadours » Blog Archive » Science Art: Aardvark (Kapisches Erdferkel, Orycteropus capensis Gm. S. 147), from Brehm’s Tierleben, 1927

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