Sidney N. Caccioppoli '21, Gettysburg College
Student Research Paper
Fossils collected in Renaissance collection cabinets were items of wonder and curiosity. Although sometimes mistaken for other pieces of naturalia, they were widely collected by owners of princely cabinets and scholarly collections.Though naturalists and collectors often kept fossils in their collections, they did not have the same understanding as we do today of what they are. Due to their belief in mythological monsters and naturalia with magical properties, there were often misinterpretations or mislabeled objects to something they were not. According to Kenseth’s “A World of Wonders in One Closet Shut,” some collectors believed that fossilized shark’s teeth were “adders’ tongues,” and that they could be used as antidotes to poison. Just as whale ribs were mistaken for “giant bones,” and narwhal tusks were mistaken for “unicorn horns,” fossils were also often misunderstood. [excerpt]
This is the author's version of the work. This publication appears in Gettysburg College's institutional repository by permission of the copyright owner for personal use, not for redistribution.
Caccioppoli, Sidney N., "Fossils: Digging Into the Past" (2017). Wonders of Nature and Artifice. 17.
Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture Commons, Fine Arts Commons, History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Commons, Industrial and Product Design Commons, Intellectual History Commons