The World's First Book of Animals


For reasons unknown (but unquestioned, as it is pretty awesome), the National Institute for Health has a spellbinding flash presentation of Konrad Gesner’s entire natural history volume, Historiae Animaliam (yes, all 4,500 pages). Gesner was a 16th-century Swiss physician and naturalist, who published this famous compilation (the first pictorial catalogue of the animal world) in 1551, where it was henceforth, naturally, immediately banned.

An Audio function gives you historical context, while the Text tool gives a general translation of each section. You can print pages, rotate and zoom in on images, and, of course, spend far too many hours pouring over these beautiful ancient offerings.

Aside from the unicorn (which Gesner admits he is doubtful exists, but felt compelled to include anyway), can you find anything funny or interesting hidden within this tome? I'll admit, I didn't get through quite all 4,500 pages!