The Anvār-i Suhaylī or Lights of Canopus — commonly known as the Fables of Bidpai in the West — is a Persian version of an ancient Indian collection of animal fables called the Panchatantra.
The tales follow the Persian physician Burzuyah on a mission to India, where he finds a book of stories collected from the animals who live there. Much like in the Arabian Nights (which actually uses several of the Panchatantra stories), the fables are inter-woven as the characters of one story recount the next, with up to three or four degrees of narrative embedding.
Many of the fables offer insightful glimpses into human behaviour, and emphasise the power of teamwork and loyalty: one passage describes how a hunter catches a group of pigeons in a net, only for them to be saved by a mouse who gnaws through the rope.
The version celebrated in this post hails from nineteenth-century Iran and is particularly notable for its exquisite illustrations — scenes of tortoise-riding monkeys, bird battles, conversing mice, delicate purple mountains — 123 in total.
The artist behind the images is not mentioned, but the creator of the equally elegant nasta’liq style writing which they serve, is named by The Walters Art Museum (who hold the manuscript) as one Mīrzā Raḥīm.
Plate 67 from Ernst Haeckel’s visually dazzling Kunstformen der Natur, (Art Forms of Nature), published in 1904.
With the assistance of Jena artist-lithographer Adolf Giltsch, Haeckel produced one hundred plates depicting the forms of animal life.
With this book Haeckel wanted to create an “aesthetics of nature” and to show how the incessant struggle for existence he had learnt from Darwin was in fact producing an endless beauty and variety of forms – Darwin and Humboldt combined together.
Focusing mainly on marine animals, the bat is one of the only mammals featured in the book, but the page of surprisingly cute “chiroptera” is certainly one of the book’s most striking offerings.
The full line up is:
1-2: Brown Long-eared Bat 3: Lesser Long-eared Bat 4: Lesser False Vampire Bat 5: Big-eared Woolly Bat 6-7: Tomes’s Sword-nosed Bat 8: Mexican Funnel-eared Bat 9: Antillean Ghost-faced Bat 10: Flower-faced Bat 11: Greater Spear-nosed Bat 12: Thumbless Bat 13: Greater Horseshoe Bat 14: Wrinkle-faced Bat 15: Spectral Bat
Read more about Kunstformen der Natur and how it relates to Haeckel’s philosophy of “monoism” in our essay “Ernst Haeckel and the Unity of Culture” by Dr Mario A. Di Gregorio; and read more about Haeckel’s role in one of science’s great controversies in our essay “Copying Pictures, Evidencing Evolution” by Nick Hopwood.
A tube-nosed fruit bat with an appearance reminiscent of the Star Wars Jedi Master Yoda has been discovered in a remote rainforest.
The bat, along with an orange spider and a yellow-spotted frog are among a host of new species found in a region of Papua New Guinea.
More than 200 animals and plants were revealed for the first time after two months of surveying in the rugged and little-explored Nakanai and Muller mountain ranges last year.
Looks familiar: The creature bears more than a passing resemblance to the Star Wars Jedi Master Yoda
The findings included two mammals, 24 species of frog, nine plants, nearly 100 new insects including damselflies, crickets and ants, and around 100 spiders.
They were uncovered by two scientific teams co-ordinated by Conservation International’s rapid assessment programme, in partnership with Papua New Guinea’s Institute for Biological Research and conservation organisation A Rocha International.
The teams explored different altitudes of the forest-cloaked Nakanai mountains, which host cave systems and some of the world’s largest underground rivers, and the Muller range, accessing the remote areas by plane, dinghy, on foot and even by helicopter.