Artedi lives!

 Ichthyology, Video  Kommentarer inaktiverade för Artedi lives!
Aug 032010
 

Some of you may have observed the excellent movie by Elizabeth Watson for the Artedi Symposium in 2005. It misses the Artedi part, however. Now, Elizabeth kindly made available also this critical drama. Petrus Artedi working at the waterfront, barefoot, quill pen in hand and on the whole rather charming and primitive. Starring Jonathan Ready in 18th century outfit worthy of any ichthyological master.

Swedish as we are, and I grew up fishing in Örnsköldsvik not many kilometers from Artedi’s birthplace in Anundsjö (many years later, though, he moved to Nordmaling before I arrived), we cannot simply forget the man who discovered systematics, the genus concept, and the descriptive method of Ichthyology, although everyone else seems willing to do so. The discussion goes on and on, did Linnaeus simply plagiarize Artedi? Ted Pietsch, American but from Washington state which is almost as cold as Sweden, has a new book out on the interaction between Linnaeus and Artedi, which will be given some lines here eventually. The Royal Skyttean Society, one of Sweden’s 18 noble academies, just published the proceedings of their Artedi Symposium in 2005, and in 2011 it is again time for the third Artedi lectures event.

To those who haven’t heard of Artedi, but are going to watch Elizabeth’s film: Petrus Artedi, born 1705, in Anundsjö, north Sweden, studied with Linnaeus in Uppsala, sharing interest in natural history and classifications. Both then travelled to the Netherlands to study and graduate. In 1735, Artedi drowned in a canal in Amsterdam. Linnaeus took care of his manuscripts and published them in 1738 as Ichthyologia, sive Opera omnia de Piscibus, which was a highly innovative and complete treatise of ichthyology. The fish taxonomy in it found its way into Systema Naturae. The film was shot in September 2005 on the bank of Edsviken Bay, on the premises of the Ulriksdal Palace, the first building dating to 1643, home to queens and kings, among them Adolf Fredrik and  Lovisa Ulrika (1720-1782), whose natural history collections were studied by Linnaeus. It is now the seat of Swedish WWF. For what we know, Artedi was never there, but Linnaeus was (me too), and you can feel the 1700s in the bare branches of the trees, the water’s reflections, and Artedi’s frozen feet.

Behind the scenes in Ichthyology

 Ichthyology, Video  Kommentarer inaktiverade för Behind the scenes in Ichthyology
Jul 132009
 

It is true that most of the world’s population lives some distance away from a major natural history museum. Even if you live close and come often to visit the exhibits, what you experience is only a minor part of the activity, the objects and the spirits of a natural history ”museum” (better called science collections or research collections). Only a fraction of the millions of objects are on display, and nearly all of the research and curation is out of sight.

Lack of public access to collections and research areas is sometimes lamented by the public, and in response to that some scientific collections do provide guided tours of the galleries for those with a special interest. With the right guide it can be exciting, but expect that for the non-specialist research collections tend to be highly repetitive, with large numbers of seemingly identical objects, and storage conditions are optimised for long-term storage and not for easy access for viewing. The researchers and collections staff are of course not on display. They have to work on, eternally understaffed, with their task to investigate and maintain the collections. Many scientific collections provide good insight into the research going on by public lectures and content-rich web sites. Projects like FishBase and GBIF make data and specimens from many collections available from their portals.

On occasion of the tricentennial of the birth of Petrus Artedi (1705-1735), Elizabeth Watson, Node Manager at GBIF-Sweden, made a film illustrating the change of scientific ichthyology from the lone man in the 18th Century taking notes by the lake to the industrial process including all sorts of technology and a rather large number of people that make Ichthyology at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, one of the major natural science collections in Europe.

One of the blessings of the Internet (in this case YouTube in particular) is that everyone with a reasonable bandwidth can now get behind the scenes in Ichthyology, in a shorter version of the Artedi film, illustrating the work of today.

Click image to play film
Kyplex Cloud Security Seal - Click for Verification