Shark with Napoleon hat
Meet a medieval shark with a hat on. However, there is much more to this funny 13th-century decoration. Medieval decorators often got it wrong when they drew exotic animals like this. Elephants, for example, looked like pigs with big ears. We can’t blame the artists, as they had never seen these animals, which lived far away - and they had no internet or means to travel that far. This is why the image of the shark is so special: it is realistic. It shows its gills, the row of pointy teeth that stick out, and the typical round opening near the tip of the nose. In sum, this decorator had likely seen a shark in real life. For the book historian this is interesting as it may help localize where the book was made. Given that it was produced in France, we may potentially place its production near the ocean, or perhaps even in the south of the country, near the Mediterranean. All that from a bunch of pointy teeth - and some healthy guess work.
Pic: Paris, Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, MS 98.
Billy Nayer Show | “Peg-Legged Father” | Stingray Sam
Cory McAbee’s weird space films are very important to me.
Academia rewards social scientists who prohibit the spread of knowledge more than those who share it. From paywalls to jargon to a tacit moratorium on social media, academics build careers through public disengagement. They should not be surprised when the public then fails to see the relevance of their work.
A short-eared elephant shrew was born May 8 at the Zoo’s Small Mammal House. The short-eared elephant shrew is the smallest of the 17 living species of elephant shrew, weighing between less than one-third of an ounce and 1.5 ounces at birth. It is too early to determine the baby’s sex. Although the tiny shrew has been active since birth, it stayed hidden for the first few days of its life, which is normal. Keepers are now getting more glimpses of the shrew as it comes out of its den to explore. These insect-eating mammals’ name comes from their noses’ resemblance to the trunk of an elephant.
Photo: Clyde Nishimura, Smithsonian’s National Zoo (by Smithsonian’s National Zoo)