Conrad Gesner’s Historiae Animalium was the first recognised zoological book and the frst attempt to describe all of the world’s known animals. Published in Zurich 1551 – 58, it was unusual at the time in that it featured many illustrations. Although it also featured mythical creatures, imagine the wonder an average citizen of the 16th century would have felt at seeing pictures of Elephants, Rhinos and Lions with the knowledge that these beasts actually existed! I think the illustrations are of remarkable quality and charm. The illustrations are best appreciated at full size please click on them to view the full sized image.
This has to be the fiercest looking porcupine ever!
This fox is my favourite of these images. I love his facial expression – look into his eyes and you will swear he is trying to stare you out!
You can check out a set of 43 illustrations from Historiae Animalium on Flickr HERE