On April 2nd, Google is celebrating naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian with a beautiful Doodle featuring various forms of small wildlife – butterflies, caterpillars, a lizard, and more.
Maria Sibylla Merian was a German naturalist and scientific illustrator who studied plants and insects and made detailed paintings about them. Her detailed observations and documentation of the metamorphosis of the butterfly make her a significant, albeit not well known, contributor to entomology.
Merian worked as a botanic artist. She published three collections of engravings of plants. She studied insects, keeping her own live specimens, and made drawings showing insect metamorphosis, in which all life stages of the insect were depicted in the same drawing.
The work that Anna Maria Sibylla Merian published, Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandlung und sonderbare Blumennahrung — The Caterpillars’ Marvelous Transformation and Strange Floral Food, was very popular in certain sections of high society as a result of being published in the vernacular. However, it is notable that her work was largely ignored by scientists of the time because the official language of science was still Latin.
She died in 1717 after suffering a stroke a couple of years earlier. Erucarum Ortus Alimentum et Paradoxa Metamorphosis, a collection of her work, was published later by her daughter. Today’s Google Doodle celebrates her 366th birthday.