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SciArt of the Day: The Great Architeuthis

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Louis Figuier's Architeuthis

From: Louis Figuier, The Ocean World: Being a description of the sea and some of its inhabitants, 1872.

Perusing the stacks in the University of Chicago’s Crerar Library one day, I found this gem of a book – a richly illustrated account of sea creatures from 1872 by a naturalist named Louis Figuier. In it are many delightful woodcuts of hundreds of species of molluscs, crustraceans, echinoderms, and fish, of native divers sponge fishing off the coast of Syria and South Americans using horses to fish for electric eels. And then there are the wonderful accounts of traveling in between. Among the woodcuts is this image of a “giant cuttlefish,” which was the stuff of legends for hundreds of years and was only photographed alive for the first time in 2004. The pdf is available in full from Open Library. It’s a wonderful reminder that for many hundreds of years, the only way to document and share these observations from the natural world was through illustration.

Kalliopi Monoyios About the Author: Kalliopi Monoyios is an independent science illustrator. She has illustrated several popular science books including Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish and The Universe Within, and Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True. Find her at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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