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Baucon, 2009

Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522–1605): The Study of Trace Fossils During the Renaissance

Baucon, A.
Typearticle in journal


The Renaissance was a time of flourishing for literature, art and science. A prominent figure in Renaissance science was the Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi, considered today to be one of the founding fathers of modern paleontology. Aldrovandi is known to have widely studied body fossils, but his work on trace fossils has yet to be explored by science historians. This paper proposes to critically analyze Aldrovandi's approach to trace fossils, based on his writings (most of which are still unpublished) and on the illustrations that accompany them. In his studies, the Bologna-born naturalist accurately describes such ichnological celebrities as Gastrochaenolites and Cosmorhaphe and discusses a few theoretic principles on the trace-making process. The study of the works of Aldrovandi brings to light a fascinating and little-known source of the history of ichnology.

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