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Ephemeri Vita. Of afbeeldingh van 's menschen - SWAMMERDAM, Jan - 1675. [1273869]
Abraham Wolfgang, Amsterdam 1675 - First edition, very rare and a fine copy, of Swammerdam?s treatise on the life-cycle and anatomy of the mayfly, containing his first published descriptions and illustrations of the internal anatomy of an insect. ?His Ephemeri Vita contains some very remarkable pieces of minute anatomy. The figures, drawn by himself, are the best early representations of the dissection of an insect? (Hagströmer Library, description of 1681 English translation). ?In his last work, on the may-fly, Swammerdam gave the first complete account of metamorphosis ? much in his descriptions was not superseded before the nineteenth century ? on a visit to Paris he repeated before a meeting at Thévenot?s house his dissection of the may-fly, and an offer was made to tempt him to Florence? (Hall, From Galileo to Newton, pp. 168-9). In 1669 Swammerdam had published his Historia insectorum generalis, which contained many beautiful illustrations of insects, but did not attempt to describe their minute anatomy. ?A comparison of his investigations contained in Historia Insectorum Generalis (1669) and those that appeared in his next major published work, on the mayfly (Ephemeri Vita, 1675), shows that a series of fundamental changes had taken place in Swammerdam?s science. Most importantly, he began to study the internal structures of insects using microscopy, dissection, and careful experimentation. Also, like Malpighi, he presented his vision to the world via some stunning drawings, in which the component anatomical parts are treated as separate, isolated, and often utterly strange objects, without reference to size or function ? Swammerdam was carrying out relatively crude dissections of large insects in the second half of the 1660s ? However, prior to 1669 he never put the two skills together? (Cobb, p. 124). No copy listed on ABPC/RBH.?Despite a scientific career that lasted only a dozen years, Swammerdam (1637-80) was one of the outstanding comparative anatomists of the seventeenth century. His most remarkable work was in the field of insect anatomy, which he undertook in order to disprove still-current Aristotelian notions (which he opposed upon religious grounds) that insects lack internal anatomy, develop by metamorphosis (sudden and complete transformation) and arise from spontaneous generation. By refining his techniques of micro-dissection and injection to the point where he could use them on the smallest and most delicate anatomical parts, Swammerdam was able to illustrate for the first time the complex internal structures of insects, including their reproductive organs; and to demonstrate the gradual development of an insect?s adult form throughout all its larval stages. These observations are ?indubitably the foundation of our modern knowledge of the structure, metamorphosis and classification of insects? (Cole, p. 285)? (Norman).?Passing over the first work on insects (1669), which deals only with external morphology and metamorphosis, ? we come to the more relevant monograph on the may-fly, first published in Dutch in 1675 ? The biology of the Ephemeri Vita ? shows us Swammerdam at his best. He started work on the may-fly as early as 1667, and mentions dissecting the nymphs in 1670, and making notes on the metamorphosis in 1671 ? the anatomy of the small nymph is described from beautiful dissections, and in this respect Swammerdam is clearly superior to Malpighi ? In addition to the anatomy of the species the astonishing life-cycle, in which a momentary adult existence closes, with the savage ruthlessness of Nature, a prolonged and active larval life, is laid bare for the first time? (Cole, pp. 278-9).?Swammerdam was one among the many who marveled over imaginings of minute anatomies, but when he wrote the Historia he still emphasized not the prospect but the apparent hopelessness of ever actually observing one. The disposition of the limbs, muscles, veins, and nerves in the anatomy of the larger animals was astonishing enough, he wrote, but to fi
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Last Found On: 2016-11-26           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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