Jan Swammerdam (February 12, 1637 – February 17, 1680) was a Dutch biologist and microscopist. His work on insects demonstrated that the various phases during the life of an insect—egg, larva, pupa, and adult—are different forms of the same animal. As part of his anatomical research, he carried out experiments on muscle contraction. In 1658, he was the first to observe and describe red blood cells. He was one of the first people to use the microscope in dissections, and his techniques remained useful for hundreds of years.
A 19th-century fantasy portrait, based on the face of Hartman Hartmanzoon from Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. No genuine portrait is known.
|Born||February 12, 1637|
|Died||February 17, 1680 (aged 43)|
Amsterdam, Dutch Republic
|Alma mater||University of Leiden|
|Known for||Describing erythrocytes, work on entomology|
Swammerdam was baptized on 15 February 1637 in the Oude Kerk Amsterdam. His father was an apothecary, and an amateur collector of minerals, coins, fossils, and insects from around the world. His mother Baertje Jans Corvers died in 1661.
As a youngster Swammerdam had helped his father to take care of his curiosity collection. Despite his father's wish that he should study theology Swammerdam started to study medicine in 1661 at the University of Leiden. He studied under the guidance of Johannes van Horne and Franciscus Sylvius. Among his fellow students were Frederik Ruysch, Reinier de Graaf and Niels Stensen. While studying medicine Swammerdam started his own collection of insects.
In 1663 Swammerdam moved to France to continue his studies. He studied one year at the Protestant University of Saumur, under the guidance of Tanaquil Faber. Subsequently, he studied in Paris at the scientific academy of Melchisédech Thévenot. 1665 he returned to the Dutch Republic and joined a group of physicians who performed dissections and published their findings. Between 1666 and 1667 Swammerdam concluded his study of medicine at the University of Leiden. Together with van Horne he researched the anatomy of the uterus. He used wax injection techniques and a single-lense microscope made by Johannes Hudde. The result of this research was published under the title Miraculum naturae sive uteri muliebris fabrica in 1672. Swammerdam received his medical doctor in 1667 under van Horne for his dissertation on the mechanism of respiration, published under the title De respiratione usuque pulmonum.
While studying medicine Swammerdam had started to dissect insects and after qualifying as a doctor, Swammerdam focused studying insects. His father pressured him to earn a living, but Swammerdam persevered and in late 1669 published Historia insectorum generalis ofte Algemeene verhandeling van de bloedeloose dierkens (The General History of Insects, or General Treatise on little Bloodless Animals). The treatise summarised his study of insects he had collected in France and around Amsterdam. He countered the prevailing Aristotelian notion that insects were imperfect animals that lacked internal anatomy. Following the publication his father withdrew all financial support. As a result, Swammerdam was forced, at least occasionally, to practice medicine in order to finance his own research. He obtained leave at Amsterdam to dissect the bodies of those who died in the hospital.
At university Swammerdam engaged deeply in the religious and philosophical ideas of his time. He categorically opposed the ideas behind spontaneous generation, which held that God had created some creatures, but not insects. Swammerdam argued that this would blasphemously imply that parts of the universe were excluded from God's will. In his scientific study Swammerdam tried to prove that God's creation happened time after time, and that it was uniform and stable. Swammerdam was much influenced by René Descartes, whose natural philosophy had been widely adopted by Dutch intellectuals. In Discours de la methode Descartes had argued that nature was orderly and obeyed fixed laws, thus nature could be explained rationally.
Swammerdam was convinced that the creation, or generation, of all creatures obeyed the same laws. Having studied the reproductive organs of men and women at university he set out to study the generation of insects. He had devoted himself to studying insects after discovering that the king bee was indeed a queen bee. Swammerdam knew this because he had found eggs inside the creature. But he did not publish this finding. In 1669 Swammerdam was visited by Cosimo II de' Medici and showed him another revolutionary discovery. Inside a caterpillar the limbs and wings of the butterfly could be seen (now called the imaginal discs). When Swammerdam published The General History of Insects, or General Treatise on little Bloodless Animals later that year he not only did away with the idea that insects lacked internal anatomy, but also attacked the Christian notion that insects originated from spontaneous generation and that their life cycle was a metamorphosis. Swammerdam maintained that all insects originated from eggs and their limbs grew and developed slowly. Thus there was no distinction between insects and so called higher animals. Swammerdam declared war on "vulgar errors" and the symbolic interpretation of insects was, in his mind, incompatible with the power of God, the almighty architect. Swammerdam therefore dispelled the seventeenth-century notion of metamorphosis —the idea that different life stages of an insect (e.g. caterpillar and butterfly) represent different individuals or a sudden change from one type of animal to another.
Swammerdam suffered a crisis of consciousness. Having believed that his scientific research was a tribute to the Creator, he started to fear that he may be worshipping the idol of curiosities. In 1673 Swammerdam briefly fell under the influence of the Flemish mystic Antoinette Bourignon. His 1675 treatise on the mayfly, entitled Ephemeri vita, included devout poetry and documented his religious experiences. Swammerdam found comfort in the arms of Bourignon's sect in Schleswig Holstein, but was back in Amsterdam in early 1676. In a letter to Henry Oldenburg he explained "I was never at any time busier than in these days, and the chief of all architects has blessed my endeavors".
His religious crisis only interrupted his scientific research briefly and until his premature death aged 43 he worked on what was to become his main work. It remained unpublished when he died in 1680 and was published as Bybel der natuure posthumously in 1737 by the Leiden University professor Herman Boerhaave. Convinced that all insects were worth studying, Swammerdam had compiled an epic treatise on as many insects as he could, using the microscope and dissection. Inspired by Marcello Malpighi, in De Bombyce Swammerdam described the anatomy of silkworms, mayflies, ants, stag beetles, cheese mites, bees and many other insects. His scientific observations were infused by the presence of God, the almighty creator. Swammerdam's praise of the louse went on to become a classic:
"Herewith I offer you the Omnipotent Finger of God in the anatomy of a louse: wherein you will find miracle heaped on miracle and see the wisdom of God clearly manifested in a minute point."
In Biblia naturae the first visual proof was published that his contemporaries had mistakenly identified the queen bee as male. Swammerdam also provided evidence that the queen bee is the sole mother of the colony. Swammerdam had engaged in five intense years of beekeeping. He had found that drones were masculine, and had no stinger. Swammerdam identified the worker bees as "natural eunuchs" because he was unable to detect ovaries in them, but described them as nearer to the nature of the female. Swammerdam had produced a drawing of the queen bee's reproductive organs, as observed through the microscope. Since ancient times it had been asserted that the queen bee was male, and ruled the hive. In 1586 Luis Mendez de Torres had first published the finding that the hive was ruled by a female, but Torres had maintained that she produced all other bees in the colony through a "seed". In 1609 Charles Butler had recorded the sex of drones as male, but he wrongly believed that they mated with worker bees. The drawing Swammerdam produced of the internal anatomy of the queen bee was only published 1737. His drawing of the honeycomb geometry was first published in Biblia naturae, but had been referenced by Giacomo Filippo Maraldi in his 1712 book. Details of Swammerdam's research on bees had already been published elsewhere because he had shared his findings with other scientists in correspondence. Among others Swammerdam's research had been referenced by Nicolas Malebranche in 1688.
In Biblia Naturae Swammerdam's research on muscles was published. Swammerdam played a key role in the debunking of the balloonist theory, the idea that 'moving spirits' are responsible for muscle contractions. The idea, supported by the Greek physician Galen, held that nerves were hollow and the movement of spirits through them propelled muscle motion. René Descartes furthered the idea by basing it on a model of hydraulics, suggesting that the spirits were analogous to fluids or gasses and calling them 'animal spirits'. In the model, which Descartes used to explain reflexes, the spirits would flow from the ventricles of the brain, through the nerves, and to the muscles to animate the latter. According to this hypothesis, muscles would grow larger when they contract because of the animal spirits flowing into them. To test this idea, Swammerdam placed severed frog thigh muscle in an airtight syringe with a small amount of water in the tip. He could thus determine whether there was a change in the volume of the muscle when it contracted by observing a change in the level of the water (image at right). When Swammerdam caused the muscle to contract by irritating the nerve, the water level did not rise but rather was lowered by a minute amount; this showed that no air or fluid could be flowing into the muscle. The idea that nerve stimulation led to movement had important implications for neuroscience by putting forward the idea that behaviour is based on stimuli.
Swammerdam's research had been referenced before its publication by Nicolas Steno, who had visited Swammerdam in Amsterdam. Swammerdam's research concluded after Steno had published the second edition of Elements of Myology in 1669, which is referenced in Biblia Naturae. A letter from Steno to Malpighi from 1675 suggests that Swammerdam's findings on muscle contraction had caused his crisis of consciousness. Steno sent Malpighi the drawings Swammerdam had done of the experiments, saying "when he had written a treatise on this matter he destroyed it and he has only preserved these figures. He is seeking God, but not yet in the Church of God."
Swammerdam's Historia insectorum generalis was widely known and applauded before he died. Two years after his death in 1680 it was translated into French and in 1685 it was translated into Latin. John Ray, author of the 1705 Historia insectorum, praised Swammerdam' methods, they were "the best of all". Though Swammerdam's work on insects and anatomy was significant, many current histories remember him as much for his methods and skill with microscopes as for his discoveries. He developed new techniques for examining, preserving, and dissecting specimens, including wax injection to make viewing blood vessels easier. A method he invented for the preparation of hollow human organs was later much employed in anatomy. He had corresponded with contemporaries across Europe and his friends Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Nicolas Malebranche used his microscopic research to substantiate their own natural and moral philosophy. But Swammerdam has also been credited with heralding the natural theology of the 18th century, were God's grand design was detected in the mechanics of the solar system, the seasons, snowflakes and the anatomy of the human eye. An English translation of his entomological works by T. Floyd was published in 1758.
No authentic portrait of Jan Swammerdam is extant nowadays. The portrait shown in the header is derived from the painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp by Rembrandt and represents the leading Amsterdam physician Hartman Hartmanzoon (1591–1659).
was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar, the 1637th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 637th year of the 2nd millennium, the 37th year of the 17th century, and the 8th year of the 1630s decade. As of the start of 1637, the Gregorian calendar was
10 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.1637 in science
The year 1637 in science and technology involved some significant events.1658 in science
The year 1658 in science and technology involved some significant events.1669 in literature
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1669.1669 in science
The year 1669 in science and technology involved some significant events.1680 in science
The year 1680 in science and technology involved some significant events.Antoinette Bourignon
Antoinette Bourignon de la Porte (13 January 1616 – 30 October 1680) was a French-Flemish mystic and adventurer. She taught that the end times would come soon and that the Last Judgment would then be felled. Her belief was that she was chosen by God to restore true Christianity on earth and became the central figure of a spiritual network that extended beyond the borders of the Dutch Republic, including Holstein and Scotland. Bourignon's sect belonged to the spiritualist movements that have been characterized as the "third power".Balloonist theory
Balloonist theory was a theory in early neuroscience that attempted to explain muscle movement by asserting that muscles contract by inflating with air or fluid. The Greek physician Galen believed that muscles contracted due to a fluid flowing into them, and for 1500 years afterward, it was believed that nerves were hollow and that they carried fluid. René Descartes, who was interested in hydraulics and used fluid pressure to explain various aspects of physiology such as the reflex arc, proposed that "animal spirits" flowed into muscle and were responsible for their contraction. In the model, which Descartes used to explain reflexes, the spirits would flow from the ventricles of the brain, through the nerves, and to the muscles to animate the latter.In 1667, Thomas Willis proposed that muscles may expand by the reaction of animal spirits with vital spirits. He hypothesized that this reaction would produce air in a manner similar to the reaction that causes an explosion, causing muscles to swell and produce movement.Bibliotheca Anatomica
Bibliotheca Anatomica is a Latin-language human anatomy text edited by Daniel Le Clerc (or Daniel LeClerc) and Jean-Jacques Manget, two physicians from Geneva. The work was published in Geneva by Sumptibus J. A. Chouët and Davidis Ritter.
Extending two folio volumes and encompassing almost all significant anatomical publications across the several decades prior to its publication, including the writings of Thomas Bartholin, Regnier de Graaf, William Harvey, Richard Lower, Marcello Malpighi, Jan Swammerdam, Raymond Vieussens, and Thomas Willis, Bibliotheca Anatomica is the most comprehensive collection of anatomical treatises produced in the 17th century.Imaginal disc
An imaginal disc is one of the parts of a holometabolous insect larva that will become a portion of the outside of the adult insect during the pupal transformation. Contained within the body of the larva, there are pairs of discs that will form, for instance, the wings or legs or antennae or other structures in the adult. The role of the imaginal disc in insect development was first elucidated by Jan Swammerdam.During the pupal stage, many larval structures are broken down, and adult structures, including the discs, undergo rapid development. Each disc everts and elongates, with the central portion of the disc becoming the distal part of whichever appendage it is forming: the wing, leg, antenna etc.. During the larval stage, the cells in the growing disc appear undifferentiated, but their developmental fate in the adult is already determined.The experiment that demonstrates this developmental commitment is to take an imaginal disc from a third instar larva, about to undergo pupation, and subdivide it and culture it in the body of a younger larva. Discs can be continuously cultured this way for many larval generations. When such a cultured disc is eventually implanted in the body of a larva that is allowed to pupate, the disc will develop into the structure it was originally determined to become. That is, an antenna disc can be cultured this way and will, almost always, become an antenna (out of place, of course) when final development is triggered by pupation.The study of imaginal discs in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster led to the discovery of homeotic mutations such as antennapedia, where the developmental fate of a disc could sometimes change. It is of interest to entomologists that the kinds of developmental switches that occur are very specific (leg to antenna, for instance). Study of this phenomenon led to the discovery of the homeobox genes, and started a revolution in the understanding of development in multi-celled animals.Invertebrate zoology
Invertebrate zoology is the subdiscipline of zoology that consists of the study of invertebrates, animals without a backbone (a structure which is found only in fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.)
Invertebrates are a vast and very diverse group of animals that includes sponges, echinoderms, tunicates, numerous different phyla of worms, molluscs, arthropods and many additional phyla. Single-celled organisms or protists are usually not included within the same group as invertebrates.List of microscopists
This is a list a microscopists.Marcello Malpighi
Marcello Malpighi (10 March 1628 – 29 November 1694) was an Italian biologist and physician, who is referred to as the "Founder of microscopical anatomy, histology & Father of physiology and embryology". Malpighi's name is born by several physiological features related to the biological excretory system, such as the Malpighian corpuscles and Malpighian pyramids of the kidneys and the Malpighian tubule system of insects. The splenic lymphoid nodules are often called the "Malpighian bodies of the spleen" or Malpighian corpuscles. The botanical family Malpighiaceae is also named after him. He was the first person to see capillaries in animals, and he discovered the link between arteries and veins that had eluded William Harvey. Malpighi was one of the earliest people to observe red blood cells under a microscope, after Jan Swammerdam. His treatise De polypo cordis (1666) was important for understanding blood composition, as well as how blood clots. In it, Malpighi described how the form of a blood clot differed in the right against the left sides of the heart.The use of the microscope enabled Malpighi to discover that invertebrates do not use lungs to breathe, but small holes in their skin called tracheae. Malpighi also studied the anatomy of the brain and concluded this organ is a gland. In terms of modern endocrinology, this deduction is correct because the hypothalamus of the brain has long been recognized for its hormone-secreting capacity.Because Malpighi had a wide knowledge of both plants and animals, he made contributions to the scientific study of both. The Royal Society of London published two volumes of his botanical and zoological works in 1675 and 1679. Another edition followed in 1687, and a supplementary volume in 1697. In his autobiography, Malpighi speaks of his Anatome Plantarum, decorated with the engravings of Robert White, as "the most elegant format in the whole literate world."His study of plants led him to conclude that plants had tubules similar to those he saw in insects like the silk worm (using his microscope, he probably saw the stomata, through which plants exchange carbon dioxide with oxygen). Malpighi observed that when a ring-like portion of bark was removed on a trunk a swelling occurred in the tissues above the ring, and he correctly interpreted this as growth stimulated by food coming down from the leaves, and being blocked above the ring.Nematopogon swammerdamella
Nematopogon swammerdamella is a moth of the family Adelidae.Oudeschans, Amsterdam
The Oudeschans, or Oude Schans (Old Rampart), originally the Nieuwe Gracht, is a wide canal in the eastern part of the inner city of Amsterdam.Steven Blankaart
Steven Blankaart (24 October 1650, Middelburg – 23 February 1704, Amsterdam) was a Dutch physician, iatrochemist, and entomologist, who worked on the same field as Jan Swammerdam. Blankaart proved the existence of a capillary system, as had been suggested by Leonardo da Vinci, by spouting up blood vessels, though he failed to realize the true significance of his findings. He is known for his development of injection techniques for this study and for writing the first Dutch book on child medicine. Blankaart translated works of John Mayow.
Steven was the son of Nicolaas Blankaart, a professor in Greek and History in Steinfurt (1645–1650) and Middelburg (1650–1666), who moved to Heerenveen to become the physician of Countess Albertine Agnes of Nassau; he was appointed in Franeker in 1669. His son started as an apprentice of an apothecary. In 1674 he moved to Amsterdam after becoming a doctor of Philosophy and Medicine at the University of Franeker.
Blankaart followed the principles established by René Descartes and was one of the first physicians to be a scientist or empiricist. In order to disprove the theory that insects originated spontaneously from filth and to demonstrate that they developed from eggs, Blankaart repeated the experiments carried out by Francesco Redi. Blankaart used oil made from turpentine to save the insects from mites, and mentioned it in his book Schou-burg from 1688.
Blankaart corresponded with the mystical writer Antoinette Bourignon. He argued in one letter that an earthly paradise would be created if there were a prohibition of alcohol. He collaborated with Maria Sibylla Merian on the publication of her work.
In 1682 he had married Isabella de Carpentier, the daughter of a referent from Amersfoort and in 1683 they had one child. At that time he lived on Warmoesstraat. Blankaart was one of the first to do research on children's education and incontinence. Blankaart was a follower of Franciscus Sylvius, who recommended copious quantities of tea and coffee. and worked on syphilis. Blankaart was living in the Leidsestraat when he died; he was buried in the Westerkerk.Thomas Wizenmann
Thomas Wizenmann (1759 – 1787) was a German philosopher of the Enlightenment, a critic of Kant and Mendelssohn during the Pantheism controversy. He wrote Die Resultate der Jacobischer und Mendelsohnischen Philosophie kritisch erläutert von einem Freywilligen. Wizenmann was a follower of F. H. Jacobi, a critic of Enlightenment Rationalism.Walloon Church, Amsterdam
The Walloon Church (Dutch: Waalse Kerk; French: Église Wallonne) is a Protestant church building in Amsterdam, along the southern stretch of the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal. The building dates to the late 15th century and has been in use as Walloon church since 1586. Every Sunday at 11 a.m. church services are held here in French. The church is also used for concerts and music recordings. It is known for its excellent acoustics. The building has held rijksmonument status since 1970.The painter Bartholomeus van der Helst (1613-1670) and the scientist Jan Swammerdam (1637-1680) are interred in the church. Elizabeth Timothy (1702-1757), the first female American newspaper editor and publisher, was most likely christened there. The painter Vincent van Gogh visited the church regularly in the 1870s to attend sermons delivered by his uncle Johannes Paulus Stricker.
The church was also known as the Franse Kerk ("French Church"), Walenkerk ("Walloons' Church"), Oude Walenkerk ("Old Walloons' Church"), or Oude Waalse Kerk ("Old Walloon Church").William Cowper (anatomist)
William Cowper ( KOO-pər; c. 1666 – 8 March 1709) was an English surgeon and anatomist, famous for his early description of what is now known as the Cowper's gland.
Cowper was born in Petersfield, Hampshire, and he was apprenticed to a London surgeon, William Bignall, in March 1682. He was admitted to the Company of Barber-Surgeons in 1691 and began practising in London the same year. In 1694, he published his noted work, Myotomia Reformata, or a New Administration of the Muscles, and he was elected a member of the Royal Society in 1696. In 1698, he published The Anatomy of the Humane Bodies, which gained him great fame and notoriety, and over the next eleven years he published a number of tracts on topics ranging from surgery and pathology to physiology and anatomy. He died on 8 March 1709.
Some have called Cowper's Anatomy of the Humane Bodies one of the greatest acts of plagiarism in all of medical publishing, though others have not been as harsh. In 1685, Govard Bidloo (1649–1713) published his Anatomia Humani Corporis in Amsterdam using 105 beautiful plates drawn by Gérard de Lairesse (1640–1711) and engraved by Abraham Blooteling (1640–1690). A Dutch version was later printed in 1690, entitled Ontleding des Menschelyken Lichaams, but when sales went poorly, Bidloo's publishers sold 300 copies of the unbound plates to William Cowper (or his publishers).
Cowper proceeded to write a new English text to accompany the plates, many of them showing a great deal of original research and fresh new insights. He also commissioned nine new plates drawn by Henry Cooke (1642–1700) and engraved by Michiel van der Gucht (1660–1725), among which were front and back views of the entire musculature. The book was then published under Cowper's name with no mention of Bidloo or Lairesse, with the original engraved, allegorical title page amended with an irregular piece of paper lettered: "The anatomy of the humane bodies ...," which fits over the Dutch title.
A number of vitriolic exchanges took place between Bidloo and Cowper, including several pamphlets published in each anatomist's defence. Cowper claimed, without much evidence presented, that the plates were not Bidloo's at all, but that they were commissioned by Jan Swammerdam (1637–1680) and that after his death Swammerdam's widow had sold them to Bidloo. Whatever the truth may be, it is undeniable that Cowper was a great anatomist and surgeon in his own right – and that he clearly did not give Govard Bidloo proper credit for his involvement in this work.