Antique illustrations

The National Library of Medicine has released scans of classic science texts from the 15th-16th century — they’re beautiful.


And the amazing thing is, they’re still better science than anything you’ll find from a creationist!


  1. #1 Zeno
    January 6, 2010

    Creationists don’t have a lot of creativity when it comes to their arguments against science. They just keep repackaging the same old stuff. So sad.

    Meanwhile, science keeps moving along and piling up even more evidence (as if it were needed) to refute the creationists. So glad.

  2. #2 Brain Hertz
    January 6, 2010

    And the amazing thing is, they’re still better science than anything you’ll find from a creationist!

    Cue creationists screaming that all of the original authors and artists were actually creationists in 3… 2… 1…

  3. #3 Sven DiMilo
    January 6, 2010

    Aw, shit…timesink. Check out this!

  4. #4 Cuttlefish, OM
    January 6, 2010

    Your octopus is
    One simple page away from
    The page for mermaids.

    (still better science than creationism!)

  5. #5 Brain Hertz
    January 6, 2010

    …and then there’s this:

    I thought the unicorn was a nice touch.

  6. #6 Brownian, OM
    January 6, 2010

    Cue creationists screaming that all of the original authors and artists were actually creationists in 3… 2… 1…

    Weren’t they? They certainly weren’t modern creationists (being actually interested in the world around them to meticulously draw something seems beyond the ken of cdesign “Let’s just steal this John Lennon song and this XVIVO animation” proponentsists), but neither were they evolutionists.

  7. #7 Brain Hertz
    January 6, 2010

    sure, and I wasn’t meaning to imply otherwise (however, it is kind of pointless to categorize historical people according to whether they accepted a theory that hadn’t actually been postulated at the time).

    I was only commenting on the inevitability of creationists showing up to argue the point ;-).

    In other news, I have strong evidence that Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest physicists of all time who had more impact on physics than any other single person in the entire history of science evar, didn’t believe in the theory of relativity. (Either of them!!!). This surely must be a huge blow for the Einsteinists.

  8. #8 Bix12
    January 7, 2010

    Very cool illustrations.

    I’ve had a large print of Hooke’s “Flea” hanging on my wall for some time now–the detail is amazing.

    Poor old Hooke, btw–apparently he ended up Sir Isaac Newton’s shitlist (they were contemporaries) and subsequently had a tough go of it all because of that.

  9. #9 Brian
    January 7, 2010

    Vesalius! Oh, man, so beautiful.

  10. #10 boygenius
    January 7, 2010


    That looks like a GD concert poster. The skeleton isn’t clasping its hands in prayer, rather contemplating the opening notes of a good Saint Stephen.

  11. #11 boygenius
    January 7, 2010

    Oops, forgot the link:

    ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. #12 Steven Mading
    January 7, 2010

    One of the things I’m always impressed with about biologists from that era is how they had to be both good scientists AND good artists. The ability to draw the animals and plants being studied was a prerequisite for getting your ideas across in that pre-photography era.

  13. #13 Sven DiMilo
    January 7, 2010

    good call (and vid), boygenius

  14. #14 Mobius
    January 7, 2010

    Quite beautiful, especially considering it is a 17th century woodcut.

  15. #15 OmiOne
    January 7, 2010

    @Cuttlefish, OM (#4)

    Only for the record, the text associated with the mermaid page reads:

    The Sea Monster and The Hydra

    Gesner is extremely skeptical of the existence of sea monsters, but he feels it necessary to mention them because he cannot absolutely refute earlier descriptions of them.

    In Greek mythology, the hydra was a seven-headed monster slain by Hercules. Gesner considers it to be imaginary but includes it because of a recently published pamphlet about a seven-headed snake found in Turkey.

  16. #16 DesertHedgehog
    January 7, 2010

    Lovely illustration.

    And perhaps a bit off-topic, but…does anyone recall an article in New Yorker some years back about scientific illustration and decrying the death of sketching skills in science? I remember reading it and liking it (note: I’m hopelessly art-challenged; Stick Man and Stick Giraffe are the limit of my skills) and wondering what people who were in the sciences these days thought about sketching/drawing…or about scientific illustration as art…

  17. #17 Aunt Benjy
    January 7, 2010

    Thanks. I’ve been looking for a copy of the original of this, my favourite anatomy t-shirt:

    Oh, and Yay, I managed to log in…first time in ages…

  18. #18 rebecca.e.parker
    January 7, 2010

    This isn’t exactly a scientific work, nor is it a woodcut, but it does have an octopus.

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