, , , , , , ,

She and her work came much before Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish Naturalist responsible for the modern system of naming and classifying organisms, and even before Charles Darwin. And, even though she is less famous than these great scientists, Maria Sibylla Merian – a painter – contributed to Science primarily with her paintings on caterpillars in their natural environments depicting the relationships between the insects and their environment. Linnaeus used her paintings for his classification. Moreover, this seventeenth century woman was far ahead of her time: in her quest to find tiny organisms in their environment, this courageous woman – now well in her fifties – travelled to South America and funded her journey by selling her paintings. The fruit of her endeavor was perhaps her magnum opus.