Coati, from Willem Piso, Historia naturalis Brasiliae, 1648. 
Great anteater, from Willem Piso, Historia naturalis Brasiliae, 1648.

5. Piso, Willem (1611-1678).
Historia Naturalis Brasiliae.  Leiden: apud F. Hackium; Amsterdam: apud L. Elzevirium, 1648.

The Dutch established a settlement in Brazil in the 1630s, and several naturalists went along, including Willem Piso, a physician, and Georg Marcgraf, an astronomer and naturalist.  Marcgraf made personal observations of the native Brazilian animals, and he commissioned drawings from the expedition artists.  Although Marcgraf died on the return home, his descriptions and drawings were published by Piso in 1648.  The animals illustrated and described in this volume include a howler monkey, a peccary, a capybara, a coati, and a great anteater (the last two reproduced here), and all these animals are being presented to the European community for the very first time. This book marks a turning point for natural history, for not only are the observations new and original, there are no classical authorities mentioned at all.  Henceforth, natural history books will emphasize modern rather than ancient observations, will showcase the unfamiliar rather than the familiar, and will be forced to search for organizing principles that can accommodate New World and well as Old World animals.

Linda hall Library