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These pages represent a purposedly biased
choice of dates relevant to biology, obtained by compiling a
great many different sources, often using the original texts
and not the WWW; the information collected here does
not use Wikipedia which, by construction, relies on a process
akin to a vote, and changes over time in order to reflect some
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however date records still contain many errors; the links are
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Please send comments and corrections here.
29 may 1453 At a time when the luminous period of Islamic
science and philosophy finishes to be tragically destroyed, Constantinopolis
is captured by the Turks, ending the era of a united Europe from
West to East, and starting the development of modern Europe,
centered on the Western countries, with the end of the Medieval
Ages and a general reappraisal of the Greek philosophy, shifting
from emphasis on Aristotle to emphasis on Plato.
This is a transition period where Latin and French are slowly
replaced by English (with a large corpus, borrowed from Latin
and Greek) in Science. French (Anglo-Normand) remains the language
of power and aristocracy in England and Scotland until ~1400,
while Latin is the only language of Philosophy and Science.
Both are replaced by vernacular English, shifting Science from
the realm of clerical research to that of aristocrats or bourgeois
people interested in collecting objects and developing philosophical
reasoning independently of the Church. This attitude is essential
in the exploration of the world, that culminates in the discovery
of the New World a few decades later.
1470 Lorenzo de Medici (Firenze 1449 - Firenze 1492)
the magnificent ruler of Firenze, creates a School for talented
artisans, where one studies geometry, grammar, philosophy and
history, supporting Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Savonarola (Ferrara, 1452 - Firenze, 1498) a Dominican
friar from the convent of San Marco begins to harangue the
Florentines with prophetic language of the Apocalypse.
1489 Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) who restores the study
of Plato writes an influential book on the nature
of life: De
vita libri tres in which he relates the world soul to the
da Vinci (Firenze 1452 - 1519), both artist and mechanician
(painting and mechanics were often taught together in those
times) draws many varieties of human anatomic figures, in
particular the famous Man of Vitruve.
1496 Giovanni Arcolani (Ioannis Herculani)
(ca. 1390 -1458) teaches medicine in Bologna and in Padova after
the teaching of Rhazes and Avicenna. He publishes
an Expositio in primam sen quarti Canonis Avicenne.
He seems to be the first to have introduced gold to fill dental
1515 Alessandro Achilini (1463 - Bologna, 1512), sometimes
named "the second Aristotle" publishes works in the
domain of anatomy, in parallel with his work on movement.
1518 Jacopo Berengario da Carpi (~1460 – 1530)
publishes his Tractatus de fractura calve sive cranei a carpo
editus where he discusses prognosis, diagnosis and treatment,
as well as the technique of craniotomy, after a polemic raised
by the treatment of Laurent de Medici who had cranial fracture
after a battle.
1522-1523 Berengario publishes
the first detailed anatomic description of the human body in
a series of illustrations, Isagogae breves per lucide ac
uberrime in anatomiam humani corporis, correcting the basal
knowledge still based on arabic medicine obsolete for a long
1526 Girolamo Frascatoro (Verona, 1483 or 1478-1553)
both physician and mathematician, describing an epizootic disease
that was probably foot and mouth disease. He publishes De
contagione et contagionis morbis in which he separates between
two forms of contagion; direct contagion between persons as in
leprosy and phthisis and indirect contagion transmitted by seminaria,
germs transported by air, clothes and usual objects of daily
life. These seminaria are specific for a specific disease; they
have a kind of antipathy for the persons they contaminate. This
remarkable intuition of what was to become microbial infections
took unfortunately very long before infectious agents were explicitly
Copernicus (Niclas Kopernik) (Thorn, 1473 -
Bologna, 1543) works on his major contribution to Science,
published by George
Joachim Rheticus in this Narratio
the new solar system (printed in Dantzig). Copernicus states
that the Earth is not the centre of the Universe but revolves
around the Sun.
~ 1543 Jacob Sylvius (Jacques Dubois) (Paris 1478 - 1555)
author of many books on French grammar, begins to study medicine
in his fifties and discovers many new anatomical features of
man in his In
Hippocratis et Galeni physiologiae anatomicam isagoge.
Vesalius (Bruxelles 1514 - 1564) publishes the most
up to date version of human anatomy: De humani corporis
fabrica (On the fabric of the human body) followed
by a compendium (Epitome).
1549 Caspar Hartung vom Hoff (?-?) publishes Ein
Frembdes und wunderbarliches Kunstbüchlein, allen Malern ...
hochnützlich zu gebrauchen that creates the Philosophal Stone, an essential Alchemist document: "Viens
donc mon bien-aimé, laisse-nous étreindre et engendrer
un fils qui ne ressemblera pas à ses parents, car sa tête
rouge sera, noirs ses yeux, et blancs ses pieds."
ca 1550 Leonhart Fuchs (1501 - Tübingen 1566) maintains
a Hortus Medicus where he cultivates a variety of medicinal
plants in Tübingen.
1551 Translation into English (posthumous) of Thomas
Morus (1478-1535) DE OPTIMO STATU REIPUBLICAE
DEQUE NOVA INSULA UTOPIA (written in Latin,
and first translated into French, english
1551-1558 Konrad Gesner (Zürich 1516 - Zürich,
from plague 1565) publishes the four immense folio volumes of
his Historia Animalium. He is remarkable by his introduction
of illustrations as a means to enhance the quality of description
of the various objects of knowledge, in particular animals.
1553 Edward Wotton (Oxford, 1492 - 1555), faithfully
following Aristotle in De differentiis animalium libri
decem, eliminating however most of the fabulous animals of
Antiquity, describes the use of many animal products as medicines.
1553 Miguel Servet y Reves (Michael Servetus) (Villanueva
1509/1511 - burnt at stake, Geneva 1553), who wrote Christianismi
restitutio is condemned by the court of Geneva under the
advice of several Protestant Churches. After having written De
trinitatis erroribus: Dialogi de Arinitate he practicised anatomy with Vesalius in
Paris, being an adversary of Calvin spiritualist physiology.
For him, the blood has its seat in the liver and veins, the spiritus
vitalis in the heart and the arteries, and the spiritus
animalis which is a ray of light is situated in the brain
and in the nerves. The vital spirit is communicated by the heart
to the liver which through the veins provide material to the
spirit which is formed by the union of the finest components
of the blood with the inhaled air. This takes place in the lungs
then to the right heart chambers, purged of soot through exhalation,
then mixed with inhaled air and purified to the left heart chambers.
He proves that, contrary to general opinion (Galen's
theory), this passage is indirect (through the lungs) and not
direct from the heart chambers. This work has unfortunately been
destroyed but the ideas pervaded the contemporary thought. Servetus is
burnt at the stake as a heretic for denying the Trinity.
1554 Guillaume Rondelet (Montpellier, 1507 - Montpellier,
1556) in his treaty Libri de piscibus marinis, describes
all possible kinds of aquatic animals, including worms, molluscs
and other marine invertebrates ("pisces"
means clearly much more than "fish"). Many specimen
were described after dissection and compared with each other
(in particular the form of the branchiae).
1555 Rondelet further elaborates his work on aquatic
animals in Universae aquatilium historiae pars altera,
cum veris ipsorum imaginibus.
1555 Andreas Vesalius criticizes Galen in the
second edition of his seven volume work detailing human anatomy, De
1555 Pierre Belon (Cérans près Le Mans
1517 - murdered by highwaymen 1564) after studies in Paris and
Germany collects material through Greece, Turkey, Syria and Egypt.
On his return publishes La Nature et diversité
des poissons and L'Histoire
naturelle des estranges poissons marins, avec la vraie peincture
& description du daulphin, & de plusieurs autres de son espèce.
In these works he mixes up many different species of "fish":
not only whales and seals but also custaceans, molluscs, the
hippopotamus and beavers or otters! All are among the animals
which can be eaten during the Catholic fast, but one finds
also the chameleon there, with no understandable relationship
with water! However one finds interesting clustering of common
features in this work. He later publishes a new treaty, L'Histoire
de la nature des oyseaux, avec leurs descriptions et naïfs
portraicts retirez du naturel, where the clusters are highly
similar to those recognized today, based on their habits, but
also on their anatomy. This makes his work one of the first
instances of comparative anatomy, neglected until Buffon and Cuvier entirely
renewed the domain.
1559 Mateus Realdo Columbus (Cremona, 1516 - Padua, 1559)
re anatomica, libri XV as a successor of Vesalius,
six years after the work of Servet with exactly the
same theory, but certainly much more experiments than thought
in the latter work.
1562 Bartolommeo Eustacchi (San Severino da Mariano
? - Roma 1574) in his Opuscula
the auditory organ (De auditus organis; hence "Eustachian
tube", published in Venice) blood circulation and dental
development in the embryo.
1562 Gabriele Fallopio (1523 - 1565) reports Observationes
anatomicae (in particular sex organs, hence the name
of the ovarian Fallopian tubes).
1563 Joannes Wierus (Grave, 1515 - 1588), who may beconsidered
as the founder of psychiatry is an opponent to prosecution of
witches. In his book De
praestigiis daemonum et incantationibus ac beneficiis libri sex Wier considers
them as victims of the devil, who poses false images in their
minds, which they consider as being real. The victims are often
sick and sometimes under influence of drugs. Wier believes
in demonic possesions and opposes deceiving monks and magicians,
who use superstitious means to cure people. He opposes the use
of clerical means as monotonous recited exorcisms, lustral water,
paschal candle, stole, pilgrimages etc. and the use of magic
conjurations, amulets, magic deeds and such. His therapy, similar
to beliefs in many traditional medicines, is based on making
a sick body healthy. Via England and the Netherlands his ideas
stay alive and have their influe nce later-on. In fact Wier claims
a place for the doctor in legal and religious affairs to judge
the imputability of an involvedvictim. In suspicion of demonic
possession, or when somebody confesses impossible deeds in court
a natural disease has to be excluded before a person is punished
by law, or exorcised by a priest. This view is still extant in
Western legal systems.
ca 1565 Gerhard Dorn (ca 1530 Mechelen - Frankfurt am
Main 1584), a disciple of Paracelse writes against the discovery
of the Philosophal Stone his Aurora Philosophorum. He
tries to convert the four elements into the original One World
unity of Unus Mundus.
1568 Costanzo Varolio (Bologna 1543 - Bologna 1575) produces
a detailed description of the central nervous system and in particular
of the structure now known as "pons Varolii".
Francesco Patrizi (Cherso 1529 - 1597) discusses
Aristotelian physics in his Discussionum peripapeticarum
tomi primi, libri XIII. He develops the idea of the
coincidence between the infinite potential and the infinite
created, in contradiction with Nicolaus Cusanus.
Paré (Bourg-Hersant 1510 - Paris 1590) son
of a barber and surgeon of four successive kings and of the
Duke of Rohan describes in Le Livre des Monstres what
he thinks is the mark of events in pregnant women in anomalies
of embryos and newborn infants (De la petite vérole
royale et vers des petits enfants et de la lèpre).
1578 Laurent Joubert (1529-1583) from the University
of Montpellier publishes the secrets of physicians in French: Erreurs
populaires au fait de médecine et de santé,
which starts a violent attack against him.
1578 Julien Le Paulmier (Agneaux lès
Saint Lô, France 1520 - Caen, 1588) publishes a treaty
on contagious diseases, including venereal diseases and plague, De
morbis contagiosis libri septem. He is also known for a
treaty on cider an wine (De vino et pomaceo, translated
from Latin into Traité du vin et du sidre, in
1589), showing a common interest with what Pasteur was
to resurrect three centuries later. The link however is not to
the cause of the diseases, but the idea that health is strongly
related to what we eat or drink (as in present day fashion for
'natural' ways of life).
1579 Girolamo Fabrizio (Fabricius ab Aquapendente) (1537-
Padua 1619), successor of Fallopio, Fabricius publicly
demonstrates the valves in the veins of the limbs in 1579. He
subsequenlty writes treatises on the evolution of the egg and
the embryo in birds and reptiles, mammals and sharks; studies
animal psychology (cries); develops a first stage of comparative
anatomy; and discovers the veinous valves (through binding the
limbs of live humans) which are clearly at variance with the
Galen theory of circulation but he does not understand what this
meant (this was understood by his pupil Harvey).
Bruno (Nola 1548 - burnt at stake 1600), like Cusanus,
maintains the subjectivity of mental observations and combines
the atomist fragmentation of the world with the neo-platonic
ideas of the unity of matter. He publishes his Clavis
Magna on the art of Memory.
Palissy (~1510 - 1590) states in his book on Des
eaux et fontaines, métaulx, selz, pierres, terres, esmaulx
et feuz, de l'or potable, du mithridat et thiriaque that pierres
name then given to fossiles) are the remains, often petrified,
of ancient living organisms which were found at the bottom
of seas, where we still find them.
1580 André du Breil (? - ?) publishes
a long summary of medical practice in the XVIth century, giving
many concrete examples in his La
police de l'art et science de médecine, contenant la réfutation des erreurs, & insignes
abus qui s'y commettent pour le jourd'huy: très utile
et nécessaire à toutes personnes, qui ont leur
& vie en recommandation. He tries to combat charlatans,
and in particular the school of Paracelse.
Ricci (Macerata, 1552 - Beijing, 1610) (re) introduces
science in China (in particular mathematics and trigonometry)
by publishing the first map of China, which is the first
time for the Chinese to see their position in the world.
1585 The Oeuvres complètes of Ambroise
Paré are published.
1587 Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola (Jean François
Pic de la Mirandole) (Mirandola, 1463 - Firenze, 1494)
describes gold transmutation experiments in his De Auro
Libri Tres. Opus sane aureum in quo de Auro tùm aestimando,
tum utendo ingeniosè et doctè disseritur (Ferrare,
1587 The De serpentium natura from Konrad Gesner is
Cesalpino (Arezzo 1519 - Roma 1603) pioneer in the
discovery of the circulation of the blood Quaestionum
peripateticarum, libri V: tries to prove that the veins
originate in the heart, not in the liver as proposed by Galen
and proves that the heart is the centre of the circulation
system (with the brain, as in Aristotle as a cooling
device) and maintains with Columbus that the change
of chambers in the heart occurs after passage through the
lungs, and he proposes for that the word "circulatio".
1589 Posthumous publication of Theophrastus Philippus
Aureolus Bombastus von Paracelsus
(Paracelse) (1493-1541) Bücher und Schriften,
where herecommends the use of specific products to fight diseases.
Viète (Fontenay-le-Comte 1540 - Paris 1603)
publishes In artem analyticam isagoge, using letters
as symbols for quantities, both known and unknown. His Algèbre
nombreuse (arithmetics and number theroy) and subsequently
his Algèbre spécieuse (use of unknowns
in equations) entirely renovate algebra.
Kepler (Weil der Stadt 1571 - Regensburg 1630) publishes
the Mysterium Cosmographicum where he defends Copernicus ideas.
1596 The botanist Caspar Bauhin (1550-1624) in
his Sinonimia botanica recognizes 6,000 species of plants
and groups them by a combination of characters, so that grasses,
mints, legumes, etc. are classed together.
Aldrovandi (Bologna, 1522 - Bologna, 1605) inspired
by Gesner (including in the way he introduces
illustrations) publishes his Ornithologia, hoc est
de avibus historiae, libri XII (in fact fourteen
large folio volumes).
1600 In his treatise De formato foetu the
first work of its kind Fabricius compares the late
fetal stages of different animals and gave the first detailed
description of the placenta.
1603 Santorio Santorio (Capodistria, 1561 Venezia,
1636) studies metabolism and transpiration in a quantitative
manner, introducing the experimental method in medicine.
1603 Fabricius publishes the first accurate description,
with detailed illustrations, of the veinous valves in De Venarum
Ostiolis, believing that the valves' function was to retard
the flow of blood to enable the tissues to absorb nutriment.
Bacon (London 1561 - London 1626) who is an admirer
of Democritus writes The
two Books of Francis Bacon of The Proficience and Advancement
of Learning Divine and Humane, to the King which is a
rare attempt to think philosophically in English at a time
when philosophy is mostly expressed in Latin. This treaty
endeavours to establish that Science is not contrary to Scripture
and progresses along its own lines of consistency. Bacon
also begins to establish that, in Science, the figure of
the author is not imporant, because the progress of knowledge
precisely supposes a gradual effacement of the figure of
the authors of discoveries (inventio). And Bacon demonstrates
that placing too much emphasis on the person of authors is
an impediment in the development of Science. Also he insists
on the fact that progress in Science can only perpetuate
if one builds on what is already acquired, needing for example,
the development of libraries. He is, of sort, the father
of the idea of data banks, and of the work of curators.
1612 In De formatione ovi et pulli Fabricius erroneously
states that the sperm did not enter the ovum, but stimulated
the generative process from a distance.
1612 Pierre Arnauld (? - ?) translates the
Arthephius (perhaps the XIIth century al-Tughra'i)
Trois traitez de la philosophie naturelle
non encore imprimez. Sçavoir le secret livre du très ancien Philosophe
Artephius, traitant de l'Art occulte et transmutation Metallique.
Together with the work of a mysterious greek priest, Synesios.
Chez Guillaume Marette, Paris.
1620 In his Instauratio Magna Novum Organum Bacon makes
explicit the analogy between the great voyages of discovery and
the explorations leading to the advancement of learning.
Galilei (Pisa 1564 - 1642) who has created the scientific
method using experiments with material bodies studies the
regularities of laws governing movement, and, at the
same time, discovers in the Universe a variety of irregularities
not predicted by the vision of the Ancient sun spots, Jupiter's
moons. He writes his famous Dialogue: Dialogo
sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo. His motto
is "to measure what can be measured and to make measurable
what cannot be measured".
Gassendi (Champtercier 1592 - Paris 1655) discusses Aristotle logics
in the first book of his Exercitationes
paradoxicae adversus Aristoteleos. The second book is published
1625 Giuseppe degli Aromatari (Assisi ~1587
- Venezia 1660) in his Disputatio de rabie contagiosa cui
praeposita est epistola de generatione plantarum ex seminibus,
proposes that the foetus of birds is preformed in the egg. He
also discusses about the origin and propagation of rabies.
1627 Gasparo Aselli (Cremona 1581 - Milano 1626), professor
of anatomy and surgery at the University of Pavia, publishes De
lactibus sive lacteis venis where his gives the first thorough
description of the central lymphatic network. His book is also
the first anatomic book in colours (four chiaroscuro woodcuts).
Harvey (Folkestone 1578 - 1657) publishes Exercitatio
de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus after having
studied in Cambridge then Padua. This treaty on circulation
is printed at Frankfurt am main in a quarto volume of seventy
two pages summarizing his work since 1616. He establishes
the correct route of the blood circulation and the difference
between arteries and veins, with the role of the lungs, as
already seen by Servet and Columbus.
His most original finding is that blood is not created in
the liver but recycled. For this he makes a simple calculation,
measuring the amount of blood in the heart and counting sixty
five heart beats per minute: this would mean that in less
that a minute more than ten pounds of blood has to be created.
This is obviously impossible. He compares the orientation
of the circulation in veins and arteries, by severing them
parallel to each other, and showing from where the blood
is coming. Finallly the heart is a muscular organ which drives
circulation, and not an inflatable device. could not find
capillaries nor the connection with the food supply. and
adheres to the ancient principles of vital spirits
1629 Jean Bonnart (?-?) publishes a book of pharmaceutical recipes:
La Semaine des médicaments, observée ès
chef-d'œuvres des Maistres Barbiers, Chirurgiens de Paris. Où
est sommairement tracté des vertus, proprietez, & usages des
Plantes, Mineraux, Animaux, des Parties & excremens d'iceux, avec le moyen de s'en servir.
This treaty stresses the difference between drugs and food. It
makes a classification organized as a dictionary, and details
their preparation and usage. Rollin Baraignes, Paris
1630 Jean Rey (Le Bugue, France, c.1582/3 -
c. 1645) publishes his Essays sur la Recherche de la cause
pour laquelle l'Estain & le Plomb augmentent de poids quand
on les calcine. This work contains essential observations,
within the theory of phlogiston to explain why metals may increase
weight when they are calcinated. In particular he tries to refute
the theory of phlogiston in this context.
1634 Théodore Turquet de Mayerne (Genève,
Suisse, 1573 - Chelsea, England, 1655) publishes a treaty on
insects: Theatrum Insectorum. The introduction is by
himself but the true author of the treaty is unknown.
Descartes (La Haye 1596 - Stockholm 1650), known for
his famous "je pense donc je suis: Cogito ergo
sum" describes life as purely mechanical, building up
on Harvey's theory of the heart and circulation and summarizes
his philosophy in his Discours
de la Méthode (english
1640 Albaro Alonso Barba (1569 - ?)
publishes his Arte de los metales en que se enseña el verdadero
beneficio de los de oro, y plata por açogue, where he describes
in details the process of amalgamation. The importance of this
work rests in the emphasis placed by Barba on laboratory controls,
as well as integration of all required processes together. As
this book was widely known and translated it must have had a
considerable background influence on the development of experimental
Pascal (Clermont-Ferrand 1623 - Paris 1662) constructs
an Arithmetic Machine, which is a first step towards automatic
1643 Creation of the Académie Royale Française.
1645 Marc Aurelio Severino (1580-1656) who studied humanities
under Campanella (an opponent of Aristotle and a victim
of political and scientific persecution)
publishes a Zootomia Democritea comparative anatomy of
animals (chapters Tetrapodographia and Ornithographia).
He dies of plague in 1656?
Baptista Van Helmont (1579 - 1644) publishes an important
study of medicinal plants,Ortus medicinae.
1651 Harvey's Exercitationes de generatione animalium makes
the aphorism "Omne animal ex ovo"famous. It
also discusses spontaneous generation and metamorphosis (example
of insects) from reconstitution of parts (cf Empedocles)
and proposes that the pupa is the insect egg...
Hobbes (Westport 1588 - 1679) who since 1640 was
residing in Paris, safer than England for philosophers, publishes
in London his major work The Leviathan on the organisation
of political systems; describing the state as a living organism.
1652 Thomas Bartolin (Copenhagen 1616 - Copenhagen 1680)
publishes a remarked anatomical study De lacteis thoracicis.
1653 Annibal Barlet (?-?) publishes a practical
course in chemistry, Le vray et methodique cours de la physique
resolutive, vulgairement dite chimie. Representé par Figures
generales & particulieres. pour connoistre la theotechnie
ergocosmique, C'est à dire, L'Art de Dieu en l'ouvrage de l'univers,
where he describes the preparation of pharmaceutical chemicals
and processes (calcination, dissolution, sublimation, digestion,
etc.) N. Charles, Paris.
1656 Michal Piotr Boym (Lemberg (Lwow), 1612
- border between Tonkin and Guangxi, 1659) publishes a flora
of China (Flora sinensis). Later on he introduces Chinese
medicine in Europe, in particular analysis of the pulse (Clavis
medica ad Chinarum doctrinam de pulsibus, published posthumously
1656 Hobbes refutes arguments against his previous libel
on the role of chance in the definition of liberty, Of Liberty
and Necessity in The Questions concerning Liberty, Necessity,
1656 Thomas Wharton (1614 - 1676) publishesAdenographia the
first treatise devoted exclusively to the glands.
Swammerdam (1637-1680), using one of the first microscopes,
is probably the first person to observe and describe red
1678 The jesuit Athanasius
Kircher (Geisa, 1601 or 1602,- Roma, 1680) uses
a microscope to study the blood of plague victims. He identifies
moving animalcules in the blood of patients (probably the
same objects as those seen earlier by Swammerdam, certainly
not the plague bacillus) and supports the theory of contagium
vivum derived from Frascatore intuition, according to
which animalcules transmit the disease.
1659 Francis Glisson (1597-1677) provides a thorough
description of the anatomy of the liver in Anatomia hepatis.
The envelope of the liver is still know as Glisson's capsule.
1661 Marcello Malpighi (Crevalcuore (Bologna),
1628 - Roma 1694), Professor of Medicine in Bologna creates microscopical
anatomy. He then goes to Messina, returning to Bologna to demonstrate
the structure of the lungs where he discovers capillaries, the
network of fine vessels that connect the arteries and the veins.
He describes many anatomical structures at the microscopical
1661 Jean Pecquet (Dieppe 1622 - Paris 1674), fondateur
de l'Académie Royale, publishes experiments in anatomy
where he substantiates Harvey's results on circulation: Experimenta
1662 Lorenzo (Laurentio) Bellini (Firenze 1643 - Pisa
1704), Anatomist and Physician, Professor of Philosophy
and Anatomy in Pisa describes what is known a Bellini's Tubules
- of the kidney; Bellini's Ducts - orifices of the tubules in
his Exercitationes anatomicae duae de structura et sus renum.
1662 Creation of the Royal Society of the Promotion
of Natural Knowledge in London on the model of the Académie
1662 John Graunt (1620-1674) publishes his Natural
and Political Observations mentioned in a following Index and
made upon the Bills of Mortality, where he makes the first
elaborate demographic studies of mortality in Britain. He tries
to identify the causes of death, an approach then not followed
by people registering death (who used, rather, to consider
1664 Niels Steensen (Sténon) Nicolaus
Steno(nis) (Copenhagen, 1638 - Schwerin, 1686) publishes
a major anatomy study: De
musculis et glandulis.
1664 Thomas Willis (1622-1675) gives a
first complete description of the anatomy of the brain in Cerebri
Anatome, cui accessit Nervorum description et usus and
coins the word neurology.
Lower (Bodmin 1631 London 1691) performs the
first recorded blood transfusion in animals. With a crude
syringe made of goose quill and bladder, created by the architect
Christopher Wren, he connects the jugular vein of a dog he
has bled to the neck artery of second dog, resuscitating
Hooke (1635 - 1703) publishes a compendium of
illustrations and description of what can be seen through
the microscope, Micrographia. This comprised sponges,
wood, seaweed, leaves, hair, feathers, fly wings, eggs of
silkworm, mites (including a flea and a louse) as well as
the first microbe, a mold (which he named a microscopical
1666 The autodidact Edme
Mariotte (Dijon, ~1620 - Paris, 1684) discovers
the blind spot in the eye and describes the corresponding
experiments in Observations sur l'organe de la vision.
Unfortunately he wrongly assumes that the choroid, not the
retina, perceives light.
1667 In June, Jean-Baptiste Denis (Paris ca 1640
- 1704) transfuses a teenage boy suffering from a persistent
fever with nine ounces of lamb's blood. He attaches the lamb's
carotid artery to a vein in the boy's forearm. It is reported
that the patient did not suffer any negative consequences (this
is quite unlikely). Denis uses the procedure on several
other patients, until the death of Antoine Mauroy, whom Denis transfuses
twice with calf's blood in December. On November 23, before the
Royal Society in England, Drs. Richard Lower and Edmund
King give Arthur Coga, an indigent former cleric, a transfusion
of several ounces of sheep's blood for a fee of 20 shillings.
It is said that the patient recovers nicely. Later events suggest
1669 Sténon publishes in Florence remarkable
considerations on geology in Prodrome d'une dissertation
sur le solide contenu naturellement
à l'intérieur d'un solide, tracing back
elements of the history of the Earth's crust, by comparing
strata with and without fossil remains.
1669 Lodewijk Huyghens (1631 - 1699) in a letter
to his famour brother Christiaan discusses how
one can evaluate the life expectancy at birth in human populations.
1670 Denis sues Antoine Mauroy's widow in 1668
for slandering his reputation. The case precipitates the French
Parliament's ban on all transfusions involving humans. Similar
actions follow in England and Rome.
1670 Agostino Scilla (Messina, 1639 - Roma, 1700)
in La Vana Speculazione Disingannata dal Senso, describes
fossil organisms from Calabria and remarks that well inside land
one finds traces of species inhabiting the sea.
1670 Benedict Baruch
Spinoza (1632-1677) learned in the work of Jewish
and Arabic theologians writes a philosophy of his own where
he advocates tolerance Tractatus Theologico-Politicus.
1671 Jacques Rohault (1618-1672) publishes
his influential Traité de Physique, in which
he develops the experimental and conceptual ideas of Descartes.
1671 Paolo Boccone (Palermo 1633 - Palermo
1704) publishes in Paris his Recherches et observations naturelles with
many observations in natural history, and in particular on plants
1672 Thomas Willis publishes further work on the nervous
system in De anima brutorum, quae Hominis vitalis ac sensitiva
est. Exercitationes, etc.
1672 Nehemiah Grew (Coventry 1641 - London 1712), botanist
and physician uses the microscope to give a thorough description
of plants inThe Anatomy of Vegetables.
1672 Regnier de Graaf (Schoonhaven 1641 - Delft 1673),
a former student of Francis de la Boe Sylvius and of Diemerbroeck in
Leyden describes the organs now known as Graafian Follicles - folliculus
oophorus vesiculosus.in.De mulierum organis generatione (Opera
ominia, Leyden, 1677; London, 1678).
1674 Unaware of the work of Swammerdam and Malpighi, Antony
van Leeuwenhoek (Delft 1632 - 1723), a linen draper
fascinated by microscopy, provides a more precise description
of red blood cells, approximating their size, "25,000
times smaller than a fine grain of sand."
From then on, he sends notes to the London Royal Society on a
regular basis about his observations.
~1675 Johann Joachim Becher (Speyer, 1635 -
London, 1682) a professor of medicine and an alchemist supporting
the theory of the four elements exchanging fire during transformations,
creates a vessel that still is named after his surname, the becher.
1676 Leeuwenhoek, using microscopes of his fabrication,
discovers what was later known to be bacteria in pepper-water
infusion. Being astonished by the sheer number of these beings,
Leeuwenhoek asks for the testimony of eight credible persons
to confirm his observation.
1676 Francis Willughby (Fr Willughbeii) (1635 - 1672)
publishes a general description of birds in Latin (Ornithologia)
later translated as The Ornithology of Francis Willughby by John
Ray (Braintree 1627 - 1705).
1677 Johann Conrad Peyer (Schaffhausen 1653- Schaffhausen,
1712) publishes his Exercitatio anatomico-medica de glandulis
intestorum, earumque usu et adfectionibus after having studied
under Duverney in Paris. He later is Professor of Logic,
Rhetoric and Medicine. He is know for his description of the Peyer's
Patches - noduli lymphatici aggregati and Peyer's Nodules
- noduli lymphatici solitarii.
1678 In contrast to Sténon and Scilla, Kircher tries
to reconcile the existence of fossil species found in sediments
with the description of the Deluge in the scriptures (Mundus
1679 JJ Wepper (?-?) gives a first description of what
was to be known as duodenal glands by his son in law Brunner.
Perrault (Paris 1613 - Paris 1688) known as the builder
of the east façade of Le Louvre publishes his Essais
de Physique where animism is pregnant.
1681 Denis Papin (1647 - 1712 ?) invents the
principle of the autoclave. His book is published in french the
following year: La manière d'amollir les os, et de
faire cuire toutes sortes de viandes en fort peu de temps et à peu
de frais; avec une description de la Machine dont il faut se
servir à cet effet, ses propriétés & ses
usages, confirmez par plusieurs Expériences. This
machine was later on used to make a moving steaming machine.
1682 Andreas Cleyer (1634 - 1697/1698) first
physician of the Company of Indies, publishes a treaty of Chinese
anatomy and acupuncture: Specimen medicinae sinicae sive
opuscula medica ad mentem sinensium. It is likely that this
work is in fact due to the jesuit Michal Boym.
1682 William Petty (1623 - 1687) in Another
Essay in Politikal Arithmetick, Concerning the Growth of the
City of London: with Measures, Periods, Causes and Consequences
thereof, tries to evaluate the doubling time of the growth
of a city. He extrapolates to the size of the Earth and shows
that with the 320 million people then thought to occupy the
Earth, exponential growth could not be sustainable. He also
attempts to evaluate the size of the population in Noah's time
(he finds one million people).
1685 Giovanni Alfonso
Borelli (Napoli 1608 - Roma 1679) publishes De
motu animalium which starts the practice of mechanical
medicine. He explains the muscular movement and shows that
they shorten when they contract. In addition he studies blood
circulation, the movements of lungs, analyses the brain;
the liver and the kidneys and studies nutrition.
1685 Raymond Vieussens (Vigan, ~1635 - Montpellier
1715) who later described the left ventricle of the heart and
the course of coronary blood vessels publishes Neurographia
1685 Jan Swammerdam publishes in Utrecht his Histoire
générale des Insectes.
1686 John Ray publishes Francis Willughby'sgeneral
account of marine animals in De Historia Piscium libri quatuor, Totum
opus recognovit, coaptavit, supplevit, librum etiam primum et
secoundum integros adjecit J. Raius.
Boyle's (1627 - 1691) Opera omnia quorum extant summarize
the many factets of the work of this important experimentalist
physicist, impressed by the theory of the
1686 Nicolas Venette (1622 - 1698) publishes La
Génération de l'Homme, ou Tableau de l'amour
conjugal, considéré dans l'état du mariage,
where he analyses human progeny, with the view that marriage
should be organized in such a way as to favour the "best" features
of human nature (i.e. the obvious characters of human phenotype,
such as physical strength). This paves the way for eugenics
theories two centuries later.
1687 Marcello Malpighi's Opera omnia are published.
1687 Johann Konrad Brunner (Diessenhofen, Switzerland
1653 - Mannheim, 1727) after having studied under Duverney in
Paris becomes Professor of Anatomy at Heidelberg and later in
Strassburg. He discovers Brunner's Glands - glandulae duodenales,
published in his Descriptio de glandulis in duodeno intestino
detectis and in Physiologica de glandulis duodeni cogitata.
Newton (Woolsthorpe 1642 - London 1727) writes (in
latin) his Principia Mathematica. His next work Optiks (1704),
will be written in English.
1688 Francesco Redi (1626-1697) makes
an experiment showing that if one protects meat deposited on
a table with a gauze the worms which use to develop there no
longer appear, showing that this type of life requires contact
with living flies and is not spontaneous.
1691 Clopton Havers (1650/1655 - Essex, 1702) publishes
in London his work on bones, Osteologia Nova. A London
physician, he qualified in Utrecht in 1685 in which year he was
made a Fellow of the Royal Society. Described Haversian canals
- spaces in the compact tissue of bone: Haver's Lamellae - bony
septa surrounding the canals.
1691 John Ray in The Wisdom of God Manifested in the
Works of Creation tries to justify some of the notion of
the distinction between genus and species, stemming from Porphyrus
1693 Edmund Halley (1656 - 1742) establishes that evaluating
mortality requires consideration of closed populations (no migrations)
and stationnary (no yearly increase). He calculates the chances
of death for all ages (from the figures of the city of Breslau).
1693 John Ray publishes in London his Synopsis methodica
Animalium Quadrupedum et Serpentii generis where he denies
spontaneous generation of animals and tries some comparative
anatomy to group animals together.
1697 Georg Ernst Stahl (Ansbach, 1660 - Berlin, 1734),
the originator of the phlogiston theory, formulates the theory
of fermentation in his treatise Zymotechnia Fundamentalis
seu Fermentationis theoria generalis; he puts forward a primitive
concept which later led to that of enzymes (note the use of the
Greek root ζυμος,
yeast), catalyzers of biochemical reactions.