The initiator of this "catalog raisonné of the forms of life" was the Swede Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778). In his treatises, published in the eighteenth century, described the plants and animals themselves northern and central Europe, namely, of the regions he had occasion to travel and study in depth. Thereafter, many naturalists have come from different countries all over the world, in long and arduous scientific expeditions, in order to bring new knowledge to the vast enterprise that, yet today, remains unfinished.
Scientists travel are intimately related to the development of navigation and discovery of new territories. Spanish and Portuguese were the first to make detailed descriptions of distant natures. Later joined Dutch, English and French, in an activity that systematically began in the seventeenth century but reached its peak during the nineteenth century. Although in most cases the organization of the trip was politically motivated, economic to military, always a group of naturalists who collected plants and animals included, prepared them for preservation and sent to the metropolis, either Madrid, Paris and London, for consideration and incorporation into the cabinets of Natural History.
The Spanish expeditions
A Spanish science belongs the honor of being the first to publish detailed descriptions of American nature, after the discovery of the New World in 1492. Perhaps the best known is that Francisco Hernández de Toledo (1514-1578) made the Viceroyalty of New Spain, Current Mexico. Unfortunately, the enormous amount of information collected, was published only in part and indirectly by other authors. The original texts were apparently lost during the fire suffered by the Library of El Escorial in 1671.
The first expedition to circumnavigate the globe, conducted between 1519 and 1522, Spanish company was also. The mission achieved such a feat was led by Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521) and Juan Sebastián Elcano (1476-1526). On their way they turned the American continent to the south, through the passage which has since borne the name of Strait of Magellan, arrived in the Philippines and other Pacific islands and sailed via the Cape of Good Hope, in South Africa, on his return journey.
The eighteenth century was rich in naturalistic travel. Notable Aragonese Felix de Azara (1742-1821) by the southern countries of South America, especially Paraguay. There he gave a detailed description of the flora and fauna of Chaco, a peculiar ecosystem of extreme dryness. In the same century held another famous expedition that ended up in the main Spanish possessions in America and Asia. It was captained, between 1788 and 1794, by Alejandro Malaspina (1754-1809), Italian Navy celebrated the service of Spain, who accompanied him on his journey naturalists Tadeo Haenke (1761-1817) and Antonio Pineda (1753-1792), died in the Philippines during the voyage.
Absolutely!, the main scientific voyage in the nineteenth century, during the reign of Isabel II, SCAD was Pacific. For three years, between 1862 and 1865, the expedition returned to touring various American and Asian regions collecting material and making detailed descriptions of animals and plants. Tal vez, the best known of the character that participated in the trip Marcos Jimenez de la Espada (1831-1898), eminent zoologist who was also interested in the customs of the people and history of pre-Columbian America. Somewhat later, Basque Manuel Iradier (1854-1911) toured the territories of the Gulf of Guinea, work that allowed Spain achieved a part of the colonial division that made the great European powers in Africa.
expeditions from other countries
The impact of these trips on progress of modern science has been enormous. In some cases, materials arriving in Europe stimulated the desire to naturalists collectors who wished to possess and display them in your cabinets. Some of these collections, British as Hans Sloane (1660-1753) or French Reaumur (1683-1757), constituted, the nucleus on which after the great museums of Natural Sciences was founded in London and Paris. In other cases, expeditions gave rise to the travel diaries that became real natural history manuals, as the French Michel Adanson (1727-1806) wrote after his visit to Senegal, English or Mark Catesby (1683-1749) on the fauna and flora of the United States.
Many of these expeditions, either by its duration and the vicissitudes suffered, have entered the realm of legend. The voyages of Captain James Cook (1728-1779) are a good example. This British explorer made three voyages to the Pacific Ocean and was the first European to arrive in the Hawaiian Islands, where he died during a confrontation with the natives. Lee accompanied naturalists as James Banks (1743-1820), author of the first description of the kangaroo, y Daniel Solander (1733-1782), eminent botanist. The French mission commanded, between 1791 and 1794, by Entrecasteaux (1737-1793) has also nurtured many literary texts. Their goal was to collect news about the expedition of La Pérouse (1741-1788), fletada a 1785 and that there was no news from 1788. Entrecateaux failure to his attempt and he died of scurvy in the Pacific. The wreck of La Perouse's ships were eventually found several years after.
Of the many performed during the nineteenth century expeditions, two are of particular interest. Which the German Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) conducted by the Spanish possessions in America, especially in the Andes, English and Charles Darwin (1809-1882), also in South America, with a particularly relevant scale in the Galapagos Islands. At first we owe the development of ecology as a science that deals with the comprehensive study of landscapes, of what would later be called ecosystems. The second is the author of the famous Theory of Evolution, explaining the origin of the diversity of living things based on a selection environment has on individuals, both their survival and their ability to leave offspring.
last spaces explore
The final decades of the nineteenth century are those of the great voyages of exploration inland, as the French religious Armand David (1826-1900) inside China, the militar los del Ruso Nikolai Prjevalski (1839-1888) by the vast steppes of Mongolia. Both of them are remembered today in the names of two species of large mammals they first described: the milú or Father David Hart (Elaphurus davidianus), a gawky cervid estuvó the point of disappearing, and the horse of Mongolia or Prjevalski (Equus przewalskii), the only species of truly wild horse.
The last territories to be explored were the poles. The difficulty of access and the harsh climate led to remain unattainable for a long time. The author of the double feat was the Norwegian Roald Amundsen (1878-1928). South Pole reads 1911, and Northern 1926. Others tried unsuccessfully before him, as the British Scott (1868-1912) and his four companions, who died of hunger and cold in their attempt to reach the far South.
Nowadays, scientists focus their efforts on the knowledge of the seabed, land mostly unexplored requiring the use of sophisticated techniques of prospecting and sampling. Now, almost all developed countries have scientific research vessels plying the seas and collecting data and specimens, as the Hesperides and Sarmiento de Gamboa Spanish.
The link between hunting and gathering of scientific material is large. Naturalists zoologists who were part of the expedition were experienced field men, small insects capable of sampling, fishing in fresh or salt water and hunt birds and mammals. Shotguns and rifles, rods and hooks, networks and butterfly nets were common in the baggage of the expedition. Also, training included in-depth knowledge of taxidermy that allowed them to carefully prepare the skeletons and skins, later, sent to European museums. Yet, material difficulties were many and most of the samples eventually lost.
Nowadays, the name of many of these brave rating is associated with the species described to science for the first time. Sometimes, the naturalist he was only recognized in the scientific name of the species. For example, The Aotus azarae, which is a small South American owl monkey described by the Spanish Félix de Azara. Other, however, Naturalist surname becomes the species, very common among large wild game. Grant's gazelle (Gazella granti) o la de Thompson (Gazella thomsonii), Grevy's zebra (Equus grevyi) o la de Burchell (Equus burchelli) are only a small sample of the many cases that could be cited.
The collection of mammals reaches almost all species from the majestic VENATORIA argalis to polar bear, also an emblematic animal. A showcase retains costume, made of caribou skin, you used to get a hunter Ursus maritimus in an expedition that is the hardest that can be done today.
At the back of the room you can see one of the best and most complete collections of European birds. To enjoy all the different ducks exhibited, raptors with the imperial eagle, one of the most beautiful, smaller birds like skylarks, collalbas, Robins and seabirds and so many.