Renaissance Scholars

The first works on Latin American insects by those fully qualified as scientists were carried out by established European renaissance scholars in absentia. They received specimens and reports from collectors and correspondents on the scene but never set foot in the new lands themselves. Stingless bees were described in Konrad Gesner's encylopedic Historia Animaliurn (1607) but were referenced therein to a work by one Andre Thevet, who "amonst other matters [in the New-found World] reporteth that he did see a company of flies of Honey-bees about a tree . . . : of which trees there were a great number in a hole that was in a tree, wherein they made Honey and Wax" (Top-sel 1967). In De Animalibus Insectis (1602-1618), considered to be the world's first book on entomology, Ulisse Aldrovandi [1522-1605] wrote and figured some Latin American insects, including the cucuyo. This insect, by now famous, also appeared in Thomas Mouffet's Theatrum Insectorum (1634) alongside a rhinoceros beetle (Mega-soma). Rene de Reaumur figures and describes in fine detail a dragon-headed bug (.Fulgora) in his Memoir pour servir a I'histoire des insectes (1734-1742).

New World specimens were incorporated into the rapidly growing European collections of the time. Nehemiah Grew figures many from the cabinets of the Royal Society in England (Museum regalis societatis, 1685).

Culminating this phase of historical development were the great taxonomists, Carolus Linnaeus [1707-1778] and J. C. Fabricius [1745—1808], who were able to include a large number of species from the American tropics in their landmark editions of Systema Naturae (1st ed., 1735; 10th ed., 1758) and various Systemas, respectively.

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