Maria Sibylla Merian

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  • Maria Sibylla Merian was born on April 2, 1647 In Germany
  • Maria started out as an artist taught by her stepfather and painted many bugs and insects, especially Caterpillars.
  • Soon Maria started studying the insects by directly observing them and was one of the first to study insects this way. in 1699 she moved to Dutch Surinam to study tropical insects. She was one of the first to understand habitat and how certain insects eat certain foods and the metamorphosis of a butterfly and life cycle. fighting against the theory of them spontaneously generating from mud.
  • Maria knew of the problems of slavery and that women could control their reproduction through medicine(very unpopular thoughts of the time). Maria received help from many in Surinam including natives and slaves (she didn't have her own.) Maria later wrote about the slaves who used medicine to abort children so they wouldn't be slaves and killed themselves in harsh treatment.  And according to one Biologist named Dr.Ethridge, "She was ahead of her time."
  • Many people disagreed with Maria's studies such as tarantulas that ate birds, metamorphosis, and bugs that can eat an entire tree in a day. Which all ended up being true. Maria did make some mistakes likely because she had to return home from Surinam and paint from memory. These errors don't invalidate Marias work more than well-known misconceptions by Sir Isaac Newton. And many have wrongly focused squarely on her mistakes.
  • Now Maria is praised for her work that inspired zoologist and biologist and was one of the first to make important observations of insect that many missed. Now some of her books are being republished. And is in several museums in one way or another.
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