I’ve been using the excellent Biodiversity Heritage Library recently for both work and play based research into animals and specimens. If you don’t know it, it’s an excellent initiative by a consortium of natural history institutions with a short and sweet mission, taken from their website.
The Biodiversity Heritage Library improves research methodology by collaboratively making biodiversity literature openly available to the world as part of a global biodiversity community.
In essence, it’s digitising and releasing the history of biology, for free to reference (you can make a donation though) or under creative commons for others uses which takes the sting out of trying to hunt down all the early references, many of which include original taxon descriptions and it includes publications that are incredibly rare or valuable and in some cases very odd. One of the very best things they’ve done recently, well 2012, is release over 24,000 images to flickr which is a great thing to do but is also a different way of browsing the history of biology. Although the image searching could be a little better, the released images are sometimes in little ‘curated’ albums which are just a pleasure to browse. Here is the BHL fLickr page and a few of my favourite albums are Sloths!, Monsters are Real, a gorgeous collection of
desktop wallpaper squid and, ahem, Octopi. One particular highlight brought to my attention from the images alone, and the subject of this blog post is Sea fables explained. London :W. Clowes and sons, ltd.,1883. WHICH YOU MUST HAVE A LOOK AT. Continue reading