A couple of weeks ago, while reading a paper* on snail illustrations in old publications, I noticed a citation to a 2001 book called Beasts and bestiaries. The representation of animals from prehistory to the Renaissance by Francesco Mezzalira. It looked interesting, so I started searching for a copy. It turned out that the book was out of print, but I was able to locate, thru Amazon, an independent bookseller that had a new copy for a very reasonable price.
For some reason, I was expecting this to be a small book. So when it arrived today in a rather big box, I was surprised. The book turned out to be much larger than I had expected.
This is a handsome, lavishly illustrated production. The plates, many in color, are on glossy paper, which makes the pictures look nice, but the taking of photographs of them with a single flash is rendered difficult—there is always some glare.
It'll be a while before I find time to read the text; in the meantime I am enjoying the illustrations.
Of course, no book on this subject would be complete without a few pictures of our favorite animals. So, here is a quite realistic drawing of a slug from one of the books of the Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi from 1602. The caption reads: Limax nudus cinereus maculis albicantibus. I don't know which slug that would be in the present day taxonomy.
*Warren D. Allmon. 2007. The evolution of accuracy in natural history illustration: reversal of printed illustrations of snails and crabs in pre-Linnaean works suggests indifference to morphological detail. Archives of Natural History 34:174-191.