By Juan Pimentel, Peter Mason
One animal left India in 1515, caged within the carry of a Portuguese send, and sailed round Africa to Lisbon—the first of its species to work out Europe for greater than one thousand years. the opposite crossed the Atlantic from South the USA to Madrid in 1789, its large fossilized bones packed in crates, its species unknown. How did Europeans 3 centuries aside reply to those mysterious beasts—a rhinoceros, recognized simply from historical texts, and a anonymous monster? As Juan Pimentel explains, the reactions mirror deep highbrow adjustments but in addition the long-lasting strength of photograph and mind's eye to form our figuring out of the usual world.
We comprehend the rhinoceros this day as “Dürer’s Rhinoceros,” after the German artist’s iconic woodcut. His portrait was once inaccurate—Dürer by no means observed the beast and trusted conjecture, aided via a comic strip from Lisbon. however the impact of his remarkable paintings mirrored a gentle movement clear of historic authority to the dissemination in print of latest principles and pictures. by the point the megatherium arrived in Spain, that stream had remodeled technological know-how. whilst released drawings came upon their approach to Paris, the nice zoologist Georges Cuvier safely deduced that the large bones should have belonged to an extinct titanic sloth. It used to be a pivotal second within the discovery of the prehistoric world.
The Rhinoceros and the Megatherium deals a penetrating account of 2 impressive episodes within the cultural background of technological know-how and is itself a shiny instance of the medical mind's eye at paintings.