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In the jungle of Suriname, Maria Sibylla Merian discovered insect metamorphosis

Borrowing from the elegant visual style of the German-born Swiss naturalist, entomologist and botanical artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), this animation celebrates her many notable contributions to the natural sciences in an age when such work was widely considered the domain of men. A dedicated observer of plants and insects in particular, two of her many achievements include helping to dispel the once widely held belief that insects spontaneously emerge from dust, mud or rotten meat, and observing metamorphosis in rich detail. And 300 years after her death, her seminal book, The Metamorphosis of the Insects of Suriname (1705), which depicts insects and plants in the jungles of South America, is still considered one of the most beautiful and groundbreaking entomology books ever assembled, with editions of the pioneering work being reprinted as recently as 2010.

Video by The Royal Society and BBC Ideas

Animation: Studio Panda

30 May 2022

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