Animals as ‘soulful creatures’
In ancient times, natural science included everything that was related to nature. One of the main characteristics of medieval natural science studies was that it consisted of examining different texts mostly. As the role of observation, illustration and independent studying came into prominence, nature study was born. In fact, it developed a lot in course of time, but it was not disassociated from theological explanations for a long time. Thus, you can find theological statements even in its doctrines from the middle of the 19th century.
“Everything that is created by God, we name creature. The science that leads us to know the creatures is called creature study. There are three kinds of creatures: animals, plants and minerals. The animals are soulful creatures, who live, feel, and move from one place to another and search food.” – Jakab Zimmermann, 1861
“Animal country, plant country and mineral country”
“As there are three kinds of creatures: the whole nature can be divided into three main parts: animal country, plant country and mineral country” (…) “A bird has a spine and its blood is warm and red; its body is covered with feathers; it has two wings and two feet, its nose is hard and pipe-shaped, it is called beak; it can reproduce by eggs. Some birds feed their nestlings (like storks, swallows and sparrows) others just help them find their food (like hens).” – Jakab Zimmermann, 1861
“Insects are tiny animals mostly with wings (…) they transform several times during their lives.” – Jakab Zimmermann, 1861
A termite loves chewing wood
“The so-called white ant (Termes fatalis; die weisse Ameise) is even more remarkable regarding its life-style, which resembles to an ant in certain features, but its body parts look like those of a louse. It loves chewing wood; its abdomen is a quarter of an inch long, flat and whitish coloured.” – András Nádaskay, 1828
You can see a Locusta migratoria in the picture, but its former Latin name (Gryllus migratorius) hints that it was classified as a grasshopper back then.
Ectotherms are cold-blooded
“Ectotherms’ blood is cold, thus their bodies are also cold or cooled, and that’s why they are called ‘hüllők’ (cooled). They live on the land and the water; they lay tiny eggs or ova, but they do not hatch them as birds do, but leave them to the warmth of the sun.” – Jakab Zimmermann, 1861
Fish live only in water!
“Fish are cold red-blooded animals that live only in water and breathe with gills; they swim with their tails or fins in the water; if they inhale air into their swim bladder they lift up in water, if they empty it, they descend.” – Jakab Zimmermann, 1861
Fossils and prehistoric animals as initial creatures
“A prehistoric creature means an initial creature, from which all other creatures stemmed, just like God. In a broader sense, all the creatures, if the succeeding ones stemmed from it.” – Hungarian language dictionary, 1861
Crustaceans, annelids and molluscs
“Crustaceans’ bodies are covered with hard crusts. They live in water and wet places and eat zoogenic materials. Crabs belong to them. (…) The annelids’ skins consist of rings or segments; most of them live in wet places (for example the earthworm). (…) Molluscs’ bodies are soft and slimy, and they secrete moisture to form their shells. Snails belong to them.” – Jakab Zimmermann, 1861
Earthbound creatures: the plants
“Plants also live, but they do not feel; they cannot change their places, because they are tied to the ground; they receive their nutrition from the soil and the air. Minerals are creatures without life, which constitute the Earth’s crust, from where people mine them, so they are called minerals.” – Jakab Zimmermann, 1861
Wolf’s-bane: a plant used as hunters’ poison
The name of wolf’s-bane is likely to originate in its poisonousness, because even a very little amount of it can cause death. It was suitable for daubing the tips of arrows with it, thus making hunters’ arms mortal. Some archaeologic finds and accumulating proofs justify that hunting with poisonous arrows was a rather widespread method in the prehistoric age. According to experts, wolf’s-bane was used for this purpose mainly by tribes living in the north of Asia.
Translated by Zita Aknai