Rare fossil fish book: Johann Jakob Scheuchzer; Piscium Querelae et Vindiciae. 1708.
Item Number: Book 693-d
Scheuchzer, Johann Jakob; Piscium Querelae et Vindiciae. Tiguri (Zurich), typis Gesnerianis, 1708. Quarto, pp. engraved title, 36 and five folded engraved plates of fossil fish.
This very rare work is complete and in a 19th century half calf over marbled boards with gilt ruled borders and titles and marbled end sheets. The binding is tight and clean, The text and plates are exceptionally clean and bright. A near fine copy of a very rare work.
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A Swiss geologist and paleontologist, Scheuchzer (1672-1733) is considered the founder of paleobotany. His father, Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1645-88), was a successful physician in Zürich. In 1679 he became Stadtarzt. He died when Scheuchzer was not quite sixteen. During the 17th and 18th centuries the family was one of the leading families in Zürich.
Scheuchzer was a dedicated follower of the diluvial theory and in this work he puts the view that "lying stones" (fossils) are real fish which once lived, but which had been drowned during the Biblical flood, unable to cope with the fresh water to which they were exposed. The title translates as "the grievances and claims of fishes". Within the work Scheuchzer uses the fossil fish to challenge the ideas of people like Robert Plot of the Royal Society who believed theories such as vis plastica and lusus naturae. Scheuchzer was among the first to recognize and illustrate corals as marine organisms and remains of the diluvian period. This work is considered by many to be the first work to demonstrate that impressions of fish contained in rocks were indeed the remains of once living fish.