In Mark Catesby's Legacy, Natural History Then and Now Alan Brush, Emeritus Professor of Physiology & Neurobiology at the University of Connecticut, provides an important historical perspective on the scientific discoveries made by the Englishman Mark Catesby 1683-1749, who traveled in the Carolinas, Florida and the Bahamas three centuries ago. Professor Brush's observations are complemented by the delicate, contemporary paintings (inspired by Catesby's own beautiful drawings of fauna and flora) by his wife, M. J. Brush, a professional illustrator.
Mark Catesby's Legacy answers a question every Mark Catesby enthusiast must at some point ask: What has become of the natural world Catesby so uniquely chronicled in the early 18 th century? This is a question the Brushes are qualified to address. Like Catesby, they have traveled throughout the Carolinas, Florida and Bahamas - primarily by sailboat - and described and painted many of the plants and animals featured in Catesby's magisterial two volume folio The Natural History of the Carolinas, Florida and the Bahamas first published in London in 1731. It was so popular that it went through several editions in 1754 and 1771 and remaining in print at least until 1815. It influenced the works of Edwards, Linnaeus, Gould, Audubon and even Charles Darwin. It was used by President Jefferson and also by Lewis and Clark in planning their exploration to the West Coast.
While many of the species Catesby illustrated and described are still here in abundance, others face serious challenges to their survival, or are now extinct: sadly, for example, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, the Carolina Parakeet and the Passenger Pigeon are no longer with us.. Mark Catesby's Legacy, Natural History Then and Now provides a fresh look at the rich diversity of life in a complex and enchanting part of the world in the early 21 st century and a must read for all naturalists and admirers of the work of Mark Catesby worldwide.