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Animal, Vegetable, Or Mineral? Lister, Ray, Crinoids, And The Fossil Debate In The Royal Society

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Chapter Summary

Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, lies just off the coast of north-eastern England, connected picturesquely to the mainland at low tide. A pilgrim on Sunday morning could walk across the causeway for divine services, and in the evening return home dry. Although privately John Ray came to think that fossils were the remains of once-living creatures, for this chapter he demurred that they were originally &t;pieces of vegetables.&t; Perhaps Ray desired to preserve what remained of his friendship with Lister after the ballooning spider incident. Lister continued to collect other types of fossils, comparing them with live specimens to investigate their origins. Dr John Beaumont, a Somerset physician and naturalist, also did a series of investigations with crinoids, comparing them with coral. His observations were made as part of his proposed Natural History of Somersetshire modeled after the natural histories of Robert Plot.

Keywords: crinoids; Dr John Beaumont; fossils; John Ray; Lister



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