Maria Sibylla Merian – Wondrous Transformations (1647-1717)

  • Article (book chapter)
  • 29 pages
  • Level: high school and above

The 2017 book Lost Science: Astonishing Tales of Forgotten Genius by author Kitty Ferguson consists of ten free-standing chapters covering different figures from the history of science.  The chapter on Maria Sibylla Merian focuses on her studies of insects, and especially the transformations of caterpillars into moths or butterflies.  Merian was for a while a member of a Lutheran pietist community called the “Labadists”, and she viewed the insect transformation as common miracles of God, writing:

These wondrous transformations have happened so many times that one is full of praise for God’s mysterious power and his wonderful attention to such insignificant little creatures and unworthy flying things…. Thus I am moved to present God’s miracles such as these to the world in a little book.

Click here for information from Sterling Publishing, publisher of Lost Science: Astonishing Tales of Forgotten Genius.

Click here for a preview of this chapter.

Click here to browse Maria Sibylla Merian’s spectacular Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, courtesy of Erara.