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The Kiwi and the Transactions of the Zoological Society of London

image of Nuncius

The first exemplar of a kiwi, the wingless bird of New Zealand, arrived in the form of a lifeless specimen in Europe in 1812. A debate was sparked over the appearance and nature of this strange creature and indeed whether it actually existed. In 1833 the Transactions of the Zoological Society of London entered the debate and the illustrations published in this journal contributed greatly to the acceptance and further study of the kiwi. Some of the most eminent British zoologists and anatomists of the time were involved, from William Yarrell to Richard Owen, and from John Gould to Abraham Dee Bartlett. This crucial period in the discussion, which would extend over two decades and would only be brought to a close with the arrival of the first living specimen in the London Zoological Garden in 1851, will be analyzed based on a detailed examination of the reports published in the Transactions and other journals. This essay will show how images of the bird were produced and used by zoologists during different stages in the early research on the bird and how these figures circulated inside and outside the zoologists’ community.

Affiliations: 1: University of Padova, Italy elena.canadelli@unipd.it

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/content/journals/10.1163/18253911-03003001
2015-01-01
2017-11-20

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