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natural history

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Swammerdam, John (1637-1680)
Bybel der natuur. English.
The book of nature, or, The history of insects : reduced to distinct classes, confirmed by particular instances ...
London : Printed for C.G. Seyffert, 1758.

Image from Swammerdam's Book of nature

Born in Amsterdam, Jan Swammerdam studied medicine in Leiden, but his real love from his childhood on was insects. His biographer Hermann Boerhaave claimed that Swammerdam knew more about insects than all the preceding authors put together.

His History of insects was first published in 1669 in Dutch. It was soon translated into Latin and went through many editions. The work is most famous for the discovery of the pre-existence of the butterfly in the caterpillar. Swammerdam and others used this discovery to argue for the theory of preformation, namely that all the features of the adult are preformed in the original seed from which animal the animal or insect grows.

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