Natural Curiosities (Mega Square)
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Reflecting their owner’s taste and serving as an impressive exhibition space for visitors, cabinets of curiosities were a place of interest in the houses of the wealthy in the 16th an 17th centuries.
Displaying rare vegetable and animal species and fossils, these cabinets were always dedicated to science and knowledge. By collecting uncommon and beautiful objects in nature, rich noblemen were able to build a microcosm expressing the diversity of God’s creation.
155 belief in the stability of species. Equally general, however, is the belief in what are called “permanent or true varieties,” races of animals which continually propagate their like, but which differ so slightly (although constantly) from some other race, that the one is considered to be a variety of the other. Which is the variety and which the original species, there is generally no means of determining, except in those rare cases in which the one race has been known to produce an
varieties, to which the preceding remarks have a direct and very important application. Most or perhaps all the variations from the typical form of a species must have some definite effect, however slight, on the habits or capacities of the individuals. Even a change of colour might, by rendering them more or less distinguishable, affect their safety; 1 Serpentes 2 Varanus sp. 3 Draco sp. 4-5 Serpentes 6 Ericaceae 1 Snake from Asia (according to Seba) 2 Monitor 3 Flying Dragon 4-5 Snakes from
1 Lithodid crab 2-3 Elbow crabs 4-6 Carapaces of crabs Albertus Seba, Plate from Thesaurus Cabinet of Natural Curiosities: Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri (4 Vol.), 1734-1765. Koninklijke Bibliotheek, La Haye. 94 95 less varied in form and structure than either of those which preceded it. Again, each of these groups may not have become totally extinct, but may have left a few species, the modified prototypes of which have existed in each succeeding period, a faint memorial of their
species would increase. In a period of geological activity, on the other hand, it seems probable that the extinctions might exceed the creations, and the 1-5 Lyropecten nodosa 7 Chlamys 8-12 Cryptopecten pallium 13, 18 Pectinidae Scallops from the West Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific Albertus Seba, Plate from Thesaurus Cabinet of Natural Curiosities: Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri (4 Vol.), 1734-1765. Koninklijke Bibliotheek, La Haye. 112 113 number of species consequently diminish.
fair statement of the results of geological inquiry, we see that the present geographical Canna indica Red-flowered Canna Lily (Cannaceae) Plate from Besler’s Herbarium 18 19 distribution of life upon the earth must be the result of all the previous changes, both of the surface of the earth itself and of its inhabitants. Many causes no doubt have operated of which we must ever remain in ignorance, and we may therefore expect to find many details very difficult of explanation, and in