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She used Native American names to refer to the plants, which became used in Europe:. I created the first classification for all the insects which had chrysalises, the daytime butterflies and the nighttime moths. The second classification is that of the maggots, worms, flies, and bees.
I retained the indigenous names of the plants, because they were still in use in America by both the locals and the Indians. Merian's drawings of plants, frogs,  snakes, spiders, iguanas, and tropical beetles are still collected today by amateurs all over the world. The German word Vogelspinne — a spider of the infraorder Mygalomorphae , translated literally as bird spider —probably has its origins in an engraving by Merian.
The engraving, created from sketches drawn in Surinam, shows a large spider who had just captured a bird. In the same engraving and accompanying text Merian was the first European to describe both army ants and leaf cutter ants as well as their effect on other organisms. Her depictions of the struggle among organisms predates Charles Darwin and Lord Tennyson theories on the struggle for survival and evolution.
In , three years after returning from her expedition, she published Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium. As the word spread among scholars in Amsterdam visitors came to view her paintings of exotic insects and plants. She noted "Now that I had returned to Holland and several nature-lovers had seen my drawings, they pressured me eagerly to have them printed.
They were of the opinion that this was the first and most unusual work ever painted in America. She did not make the printing plates herself this time, but hired three printmakers to do the engraving. She supervised the work closely. To pay for this work she advertised for subscribers, who were willing to give her money in advance for a hand-painted deluxe edition of the Metamorphosis.
She mused "It is reasonable for a woman to make such a gift to a person of the same sex". But nothing came of the plan. She documented among others that the sap from a palm was used rubbed into itchy scalps to treat worm infections. While the pineapple had been drawn before, Merian's went on to become the most prominent. Surinam's insects were shown throughout their entire life cycle and on their plant host. Her drawings of Surinam animal and plant life is so accurate that entomologists who analysed her study journal from the expedition could identify 73 percent of the lepidopterans by their genus and 66 percent as exact species.
Some of the animals and plants she drew are likely to have since become extinct. Her drawings are part of the scientific exploration by Europeans. Early taxonomy of tropical plants relied on images or specimens. Following her return to Amsterdam the images she had made were used by Carl Linnaeus and others to identify one hundred or so new species. As such she referred to butterflies as summer birds. However, based on her drawings Linnaeus classified Surinam's animals in and He used Merian's drawings to describe 56 animals and 39 plants, including the tarantula.
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In reference to her research Linnaeus abbreviated her name into Mer. Merian was the first European women to independently go on a scientific expedition in South America.
Margaret Fountaine studied butterflies on five continents. When Merian moved to Amsterdam in she made the acquaintance of several naturalists.
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Trading ships brought back never seen before shells, plants and preserved animals. When she received a specimen from James Petiver she wrote to him that she was interested in "the formation, propagation, and metamorphosis of creatures, how one emerges from the other, and the nature of their diet.
Rumpf was a naturalists and in the course of his work for the Dutch East India Company had collected Indonesian shells, rocks, fossils and sea animals. Merian, and possibly her daughter Dorothea, helped to compile illustrations of the specimens for the book. It was published in The exotic specimens on display in Amsterdam may have inspired her to travel to Surinam, but only interrupted her study of European insects briefly. Merian continued her collection and observation activities, adding plates to her Caterpillars books and updating the existing plates.
She republished the two volumes in Dutch in and under the title Der Rupsen. She explained that flies emerged from a caterpillar pupa, and suggested that flies could be born from excrement. A number of Metamorphosis editions were also published posthumously by her family, to which 12 additional plates were added. All but two appear to have been Merian's work. Merian was described as lively, hard working and courteous by a visiting scholar in Her house was full of drawings, insects, plants, fruit and on the walls were her Surinam watercolours.
After her death, he acquired a significant number of her paintings  which to this day are kept in academic collections in St. The universal classification system for all organisms was started by Carl Linnaeus about 30 years after Merian had published her research on Suriname. It is organised in five levels of kingdom, class, order, genus and species. Two butterflies have been named after her, a race of the common postman butterfly Heliconius melpomene meriana and a split-banded owlet butterfly Opsiphanes cassina merianae.
The Cuban sphinx moth has been named Erinnyis merianae. A bug with no common name has been named Plisthenes merianae. A genus of mantises has been named Sibylla. The bird-eating spider Avicularia merianae was named in her honour, referencing her research on spiders. The spider Metellina merianae was named after her in The Argentine black-and-white tegu lizard has been named Salvator merianae.
The cane toad was named Rhinella merianae. A snail with no common name was named Coquandiella meriana. The Madagascan African stonechat bird was given the name Saxicola torquatus sibilla. A genus of exotic flowering plants was named Meriana. A bulbil bugle-lily was given the name Watsonia meriana. In a rare butterfly, Catasticta sibyllae was named after her. In the last quarter of the 20th century, the work of Merian was re-evaluated, validated, and reprinted.
Her portrait has also appeared on a 0. In the late s Archiv imprint of the Polydor label issued a series of new recordings of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 's piano works performed on period instruments and featuring Merian's floral illustrations. The renewed scientific and artistic interest in her work was triggered in part by a number of scholars who examined collection of her works, such as the one in Rosenborg Castle , Copenhagen. Today, while Merian has experienced reinvigorated fame in the eyes of the art and science communities, some of her work has finally been accurately re-attributed to her daughters, Dorothea and Johanna.
Johanna Helena Herolt often did not receive credit for her artwork because they were created in collaboration with her mother. Today her works are in the process of recovery. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Maria Sibylla Merian. Amsterdam , Dutch Republic. In Kristensen, Niels P. Lepidoptera, moths and butterflies: Evolution, Systematics and Biogeography. Arthropoda: Insecta. Walter de Gruyter.
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New York: Broadway Books. Terrestrial Arthropod Reviews. Women and Science: Social Impact and Interaction. The Atlantic. Retrieved 19 January Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-century Lives. Harvard University Press. Zweiter Band M—Z. Flowers, butterflies, insects, caterpillars and serpents Soldiershop Publishing. Retrieved 10 August Retrieved 23 December Archives of Natural History, 26 1 , Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
University of Minnesota Press. February Science First Hand. Bibliotheca Herpetologica. Getty Publications. Yale University Press. Diederichs Verlag. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Maria Sibylla Merian, — artist and naturalist. Ostfildern-Ruit: Verlag Gerd Hatje.