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Title: The Modern Naturalist’s Bestiary: Observations of an Ekphrastic Zoologist
Authors: Blackburn, Matthew
Advisors: Hedin, Lars
Department: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: This thesis looks at mythical creatures that have emerged in both zoological and popular history and compares these fantastical creatures to bizarre, real animals that actually exist. In order to make these comparisons, it observes some of the critical features that make mythical creatures what they are (say the phoenix's ability to be reborn) and relates these features to real animals that have similar morphological, behavioral, or physiological traits (for instance, the ability of the Turritopsis dohrnii jellyfish to also be 'reborn' by reverting back to its polyp form). This thesis offers value both with its in depth explanations of unusual biological phenomena in real animals and with its mythical creature parallels that show that sometimes the mythical is not as far away from actual biology as one might think. This form of this thesis has been inspired by the medieval bestiaries, Caspar Henderson's recently published The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary, and Michael Hearst's Unusual Creatures.
Extent: 301 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 1992-2016

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