SIX ORIGINAL ANATOMICAL DRAWINGS OF THE PRIMITIVE CRAB DAPHNELLA BRACHYURA, MADE FOR AUGUST WEISMANN’S 1877 STUDY
WEISMANN, August. Set of detailed anatomical drawings of the crab, Daphnella Brachyura. [Lake Bodensee, Austria], 1877. Six original pencil drawings on stiff paper, the largest measuring 12 by 8-1/2 inches, the smallest 6-1/2 by 4-3/4 inches. $1800.
Six intricate pencil drawings of the crab Daphnella Brachyura used to produce the five plates in Gruber and Weismann’s 1877 monograph, Ueber einige neue oder unvollkommen gekannte Daphniden.
Neo-Darwinian and one of the founders of the science of genetics, August Weismann, is perhaps best known for his theory of “germ plasm,” forerunner of DNA theory, in opposition to the prevailing doctrine of the inheritance of acquired traits. Germ plasm, he contended, is not affected by anything the body learns during its life, and therefore has no information to pass on to the next generation. This came to be called the “Weismann barrier.” In his capacity as professor of zoology at the University of Freiburg, Weismann published numerous memoirs on insect embryology, small crustaceans and hydrozoa (DSB). This series of intricate anatomical pencil drawings of the crab specimen, Daphnella Brachyura, taken from Lake Bodensee (Constance) in Austria, is finished and keyed, ready for the engraver. They were used to produce the five folding plates that illustrate Gruber and Weismann’s Ueber einige neue oder unvollkommen gekannte Daphniden (1877). According to the authors, Daphnella belongs to the group Brachyura, which included the majority of Crustacea, although more recent discoveries suggest that this specimen resembles the classification Anomura, characterized by a stunted fifth pair of legs. “The fifth pair of legs is generally weak, not fit either for walking, swimming, or grasping food or prey… I am not aware that any function has ever been assigned to the fifth pair of legs in this section of the Anomura, though in another family, the Lithodidae [stone crabs], where the fifth pair of legs are slender, chelate, and folded in the branchial chambers, they may be used to keep the branchial clear of parasites and thus be of advantage to the animal” (T.R.R. Stebbing). Two drawings contain manuscript notations in German. Two drawings contain manuscript notations in German.
Extremely good condition.