Rare (and vintage) Science Illustrations — via Brain Pickings

Image by Ernst Haeckel (1834 - 1919). Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms of Nature). Asteridea is the subclass of echinoderms that includes sea stars. While slow moving, they are high-level predators and feed on other invertebrates, including mollusks and barnacles>

Image by Ernst Haeckel (1834 – 1919). Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms of Nature).  “Asteridea is the subclass of echinoderms that includes sea stars. While slow moving, they are high-level predators and feed on other invertebrates, including mollusks and barnacles.”– Via Natural Histories: 500 Years of Rare Science Illustrations.

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54 thoughts on “Rare (and vintage) Science Illustrations — via Brain Pickings

  1. These drawings are very beautiful, in my book about plants it features some drawings of plants made by Agustin Stahl, a botanist and doctor whom came to Puerto Rico from Curacao and studied our plants, and those drawings are similar in style to these ones. I guess if you were a scientist a long time ago you had to be good at drawing since it was the only way to record what you saw.

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  2. It should be noted that although nowadays technology offers many different ways to record life using cameras and such, we still need artists and artistic techniques such as 3D modeling and such to recreate scenarios from the past and things that are impossible to photograph. For instance, without art in science, scientists would not have been able to recreate the image of a Neanderthal man (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19960748).

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    • Indeed. Science and art should not be too far removed. Unfortunately for both disciplines, they began to separate too much after the Industrial Revolution, with the advent of mechanized labor.

      Also, it should be noted that the Neanderthal Man’s resemblance to Chuck Norris is uncanny.

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    • These drawings are very old, and they are an artist representation if starfish. Photography was not available back then. That means that scientists had to have good illustration skills, as well as academic skills.

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  3. this reminds of the video that said that we are all related, this doesnt mean that we are related to the starfish but we have body parts that are very similiar, this is amazing !

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  4. these drawings are awesome! The detail is so cool and it looks perfect. Even though we have technology to do this stuff for us. There is something about drawing it from your perspective that makes it unique. Art and Science have a relation in a way.

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  5. These pictures are amazing, but we have technological advances now, and with a push or tap of a button scientists can take pictures of organisms or inventions or whatever.

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  6. Most of you probably dont know this but there are over 2,000 species of star fish , not all of the have 5 tentacles and they do not have blood.

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  7. These drawings are very good and have a lot of detail so you can see exactly what they look like. They have some similarities to the ones we saw today under the microscope.

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  8. these drawing is amazing because of the details and how they look and there similarities. they are so many different kinds of species of them also that make them different.

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  9. We cannot ignore the time and effort it must have taken to make these drawings and other scientific illustrations by different people. However, because there are humans creating these pieces of art, there is always the possibility of finding errors in a scientific illustration, such as the ones presented in the following article: http://allthatmatters.heber.org/2012/02/13/why-fancy-illustrations-are-so-wrong/
    This is why peer review is very important even in the artistic side of the scientific community.

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    • Indeed. Peer review is the lifeline of science; it keeps it humble, and always on its toes, looking for way to update results. I’m pretty sure that these images have some type of error; scientific illustratios are prone to that; but I’m almost certain that these errors are what give the aesthetic value–but, scientifically speaking, they have little value, other than being very interesting pieces of science history.

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  10. Art and science sould be related its interesting the different forms of stars sea science is history too!

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  11. these are beautiful ! starfish are reaaally amazing  and in these drawings they look great there are many types of stars maybe even some types we have not discovered yet !

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  12. is very interesting to see how a simple and beautiful creature can be a predator and recreate itself when it loses a part. i find the art and science a great combination. its really cool to see the scientists interpretations of what they see in art.

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  13. it is intresting all different kinds of all of forms of stars, it is cool how the scientist says what they see in art

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  14. This drawings are awesome. This shows you that behind science the art is a history too. And that in the past you had to draw too to be a scientist

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  15. Scientists back then had no cameras to pictures of different species of animals so once they found a new one they drawled it. Science back then was more of superstitions till time evolved and they invented new things

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  16. These drawings are actually preaty wierd but awsome. Its preaty interesting to see how things is life are so wierd.

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  17. Starfish are so beautiful they may be so many different kinds of starfish in the sea these is a really awesome art.

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  18. In that time the scientist had to suffer to do what they need to do for living and this scientist was very dedicated

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  19. Its amazing how the drawings show the different types of starfishes and their shape! A long time ago almost every scientist should’ve known how to draw clearly and precisely since they needed to record their acknowledged information!

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  20. I like how this drawingi shows us other types of sea stars that we don’t even know about and how they are all very different

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  21. These really are beautiful drawings.. I didnt even know that stars were predators, I always wondered what was there function in the ocean other than being beautiful .. Know i know

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  22. This is a very rare photo. It illustrates perfectly what really is inside a star. Maybe by this picture I can appreciate the stars even more because this shows that there’s always more than just a tiny dot.

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  23. It’s very interesting how we learn something knew and complex and realize that you ( as in most humans in general) know practically nothing of your soroundings. Of your own home. (planet earth) who knows what we will learn tomorrow… 🙂

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  24. This doesn’t even look hand made, but it is. If only I could draw like that. This is the true definition of art.

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  25. Illustrations like these remind us of how beautiful many organisms are. Back in the day, scientists had to be REALLY good at drawing to best represent what a specimen looked like. Nowadays, it is much easier to do this (just take a photo or shoot a video). I’ve always thought sea creatures are the most alien-like and surreal organisms on the planet; the echinoderms on the top of the image remind me of the underwater extraterrestrial characters in the film The Abyss.

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