Willughby and John Ray. The First Works in which Plates are Prominent. Works on Fauna and Journeys up to the Last Third of the 18th Century
In spite of the comparatively abundant amount of literature relating to birds which had appeared up to about 1675, ornithology had hardly yet attained a truly scientific position. The foundation of scientific ornithology was first laid by the united efforts of the two Englishmen Francis Willughby and John Ray in their work ‚Ornithologiæ libri tres‘, etc., 1676 (532), which marks an epoch in the history of ornithology. It. contains the first rational ornithological classification, and thus forms the basis of the system, a field which was further developed by Linnæus. These two men came from widely differing classes of society, Willughby being a country gentleman of means and with a series of distinguished ancestors, while Ray (or Wray, as he originally spelt his name) was ‚the poor son of a village blacksmith‘ (228, pp. 17–146; 619, pp. 99–134; 621, VII). But, after their studies had brought them together at Trinity College, Cambridge, their common interest in Nature led to their intimate cooperation in, amongst other pursuits, making collections and travelling. Dissatisfied with the status of natural history, they set themselves the common task of producing a systematic description of the whole organic world, Ray undertaking the plants, Willughby the animals. Ray’s contribution which, so far as zoology was concerned, was based on Willughby’s preparatory work, was a very valuable one. So much so that he, who is sometimes called ‚the father of English natural history‘, laid the foundation of the whole of systematic biology and raised systematics to an independent branch of science (840; 841; 842).
KeywordsNatural History Colour Plate Preserve Bird Principal Work British Bird
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