Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Discovering the Yonge Collection - Ellis & Solander's 'Natural history of many curious and uncommon zoophytes'

Ellis, John and Solander, Daniel (1786), The natural history of many curious and uncommon zoophytes, collected from various parts of the globe / by the late John Ellis … ; systematically arranged and described by the late Daniel Solander …, Benjamin White & Son, London.

From its first publication, The natural history of many curious and uncommon zoophytes… set a new standard in taxonomic excellence, and went on to become a standard work in many branches of taxonomic zoology and botany for the next two hundred years. The book was one of the first fruits to flow from the establishment of the world-famous British Museum. The natural history of many curious and uncommon zoophytes… was the last major work done by both Ellis and Solander, with neither scientist living to see the completed publication. It was finally published by Ellis’s daughter, Martha Watt with the financial support of Sir Joseph Banks in 1786. The book begins with a sincere dedication by Watt to Sir Joseph Banks: 
“President of the Royal Society, the liberal patron of science, and the enlightened cultivator of natural knowledge … inscribed by his most obedient and much obliged servant, the daughter of the author, Martha Watt”. 
Illustration of Acanthaster planci (Crown-of-thorns Starfish), in
The natural history of many curious and uncommon zoophytes
A feature of the work is its 63 exquisitely-engraved plates. It includes possibly the first recorded illustration of the crown of thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci), then known as Asterias echinites. Almost exactly 200 years later, this particular illustration was used as the logo for a range of publications coming out of the 1985 Crown-of-Thorns Study undertaken by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), based in Townsville, North Queensland.
Illustration from The natural history of many curious and uncommon zoophytes
The publications recorded the scientific and administrative results of the program, as well as the biology and ecology of the crown-of-thorns starfish. Twelve monographs were published in the series Crown-of-thorns study report. The publication Crown-of-thorns starfish: questions and answers by Peter Moran provided answers to commonly asked question about the starfish, presenting scientifically accurate information in an easily accessible style. The full colour publication proudly displayed Ellis’s illustration on the front cover.
Cover of Crown-of-thorns Starfish: Questions and Answers by P. Moran
A major scientific review of the starfish, The Acanthaster phenomenon by Peter Moran, was published in 'Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review', Volume 24, pages 379-480. This work then ‘spawned’ separate monographs such as Acanthaster planci: an annotated bibliography by Peter Moran and Suzie Davies. The bibliography contained the full citations of the previously published review, as well as additional material. Three editions of this work were published as part of the Crown-of-Thorns Study, and all showed Ellis’s starfish illustration on the front cover. Moran’s major review was republished in 1988 as The Acanthaster phenomenon (Volume 7 of the Monograph Series by the Australian Institute of Marine Science). This volume contained the previously published works.
Cover of Acanthaster Planci: an annotated bibliography by Peter Moran and Suzie Davies
Ellis’s excellent book and its finely engraved illustrations of the crown-of-thorns starfish were first identified by Inara Bush, the AIMS librarian, as she diligently worked through the book stock of the recently arrived Sir Maurice Yonge collection during 1983.

About the authors
John Ellis was recognised as the first modern marine biologist, and won a number of prizes from the Royal Society during his life. The natural history of many curious and uncommon zoophytes … clearly and finally established the animal nature of marine animals such as corals, gorgonians and starfish; permanently separating them from the taxonomy of marine plants. The work clearly identified the topic of marine zoology and also laid the foundation for accurate marine botany in England.

Daniel Solander is widely known as the botanist who accompanied Sir Joseph Banks on James Cook’s first voyage of discovery on the Endeavour. He inspired the naming of Botanist Bay (later to become Botany Bay). Unfortunately Solander died quite young, but he still produced a series of major ground-breaking publications emanating out of the scientific collections from his numerous voyages. Solander and Ellis undertook many scientific collaborations during their lives, publishing major works at the Royal Society. Both John Ellis and Daniel Solander were greatly regarded by a giant of 18th century science, Carl Linnaeus. This regard is clearly shown in the 1758 compliment to Ellis:
“You in these minute and almost invisible beings, have acquired a more lasting name than any heroes and kings by their cruel murders and bloody battles. I congratulate you on this, your own stupendous victory, over the barbarous ignorance which hitherto has held the philosophic world in subjection”.

Suzie Davies, Special Collections Volunteer
James Cook University Library

* Read more about the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection
** Browse the titles in the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection

Cornelius, P.F.S., and Wells, J.W. (1988). 'Ellis & Solander’s ‘Zoophytes’, 1786: six unpublished plates and other aspects', Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Historical Series 16(1), 17-87.

Moran, P. (1986). 'The Acanthaster phenomenon', Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review, 24, 379-480.

Moran, P. (1988). Crown-of-thorns starfish: questions and answers. Townsville: Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Moran, P., and Davies, S. (1989). Acanthaster planci: an annotated bibliography, 3rd ed. Townsville: Australian Institute or Marine Science.

Moran, P.J. (1988). The Acanthaster phenomenon. (Monograph series; volume 7).Townsville: Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Rauschenberg, R. (1978). 'John Ellis, F.R.S.: Eighteenth Century Naturalist and Royal Agent to West Florida', Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, 32(2), 149-164. Retrieved from

Wikipedia contributors. (2018, January 24). Daniel Solander. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved, March 22, 2018, from

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Open access textbooks

Your librarians are always looking for new open access resources for you. These can be found in  OneSearch by ticking the box beside 'Open access items only' in the Advanced search option box.

Alternatively, to locate items which may not yet have been indexed in OneSearch, try selecting 'Open Access' as a database type in our A-Z Databases libguide.

Library HomeOne of the resources we have recently added to the Databases list is the Open Textbook Library. These titles could be used as supplementary material to your own textbooks. Over three hundred textbooks, by mostly American publishers, are curated by the University of Minnesota. They have all been used in academic courses across America across most disciplines, and are currently used elsewhere including Australia. Some of the texts are provided in a other formats, including kindle and mobi. Helpfully, they are all rated by reviewers on a four star scale. Titles on career preparation and job-seeking and study success are here as well.

A few titles are explored below, why not see if there is something in the Open Textbook Library for you?

ePortfolio performance support systems writes extensively on how eportfolios can be useful across your entire career and is highly recommended by reviewers.

Wanting to delve more into sustainability studies? Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation may be able to guide you across a range of issues, from climate to infrastructure and analysis tools.

Are you an international student, or planning to study overseas? Intercultural learning: Critical preparation for international student travel was written by JCU academics, and is an interactive tool to gain understanding of difference while studying in an unfamiliar country.

52 Book Challenge - Week 46

It's often said that everyone has a book in them. Have you written yours yet?

This week’s challenge is:

46. A Self-Published Book 

A large part of this week's challenge could be just finding a self-published book to read. A search in Good Reads reveals a host of suggestions for popular fiction, but if you're looking for something more substantial, why not look at the plethora of titles in Research Online

You can use Advanced Search to type in your area of interest and then select Thesis from the Item Type menu. If you've never explored Research Online, you'll be amazed at the range of fascinating theses and other publications in this repository!

Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Reading Challenge Week 45 - A Graphic Novel

This week’s challenge was to read a graphic novel. This is a favourite genre for some of the librarians here at JCU (actually, you’d be hard-pressed to find a library that didn’t contain at least one librarian who is a fan of graphic novels), so we enjoyed the opportunity to trawl through our collection looking for sequential art.

We actually have a surprising amount of books that fall under the “graphic novel” umbrella, but you can never have too many.

Sharon Bryan read The Arrival, by Shaun Tan.

So far I’ve managed to use graphic novels quite a number of times during this Reading Challenge. I snuck them into A Book With a One-World Title, A Memoir or Journal, An EpicPoem and – just last week – A Book About Science. So now that the challenge actually is “A graphic novel”, I feel spoilt for choice. Part of me really wants to revisit Rapunzel’s Revenge, which is one of my favourite books of all time, but if I’m honest, I feel this spot belongs to the most graphic of graphic novels: The Arrival.

By “graphic” I mean illustrated. The Arrival has no words – the entire story is told through pictures. And it is told so very, very well. A man whose homeland is filled with monstrous things reluctantly leaves his family to try to find a better place to live. He finds himself in a strange place where everything feels alien – even the written language is so unfamiliar to him that he can’t recognise when it is upside-down. The customs are often beyond him, as are the “normal” things people do as part of their day-to-day lives, and he despairs of ever fitting in and earning enough money to bring over his family.

Along the way, he meets other immigrants who have fled other unsafe or unfortunate situations who share their stories, and even though they are all from different places, they help each other out as best as they can.

The artwork is monochrome and in sepia shades – every image looks like an old photograph. They beautifully capture the sense of danger in the immigrants’ hometowns, and the sense of bewildering strangeness in this new place. Shaun Tan does a wonderful job of showing us what life is like as a displaced person, a refugee or an immigrant.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. There isn’t a single word in it, but it will take you on a journey and leave you feeling a little bit bigger for the experience – something the best of novels can do.

Samantha Baxter read Rapunzel's Revenge, by Shannon Hale

“Once upon a time, in a land you only think you know, lived a little girl and her mother . . . or the woman she thought was her mother.

Every day, when the little girl played in her pretty garden, she grew more curious about what lay on the other side of the garden wall . . . a rather enormous garden wall.

And every year, as she grew older, things seemed weirder and weirder, until the day she finally climbed to the top of the wall and looked over into the mines and desert beyond.”

Rapunzel’s Revenge (810 HALE) is a fractured fairy-tale set in the old west, with Rapunzel ditching the jerky ‘rescuer’ to save her mother with the help of a ‘gentleman’ she meets along the way. What follows is a series of adventures, but I won’t spoil the ending. 

The thing I like most about this graphic novel is the ability of the author to write what you would expect to happen but the drawings show a slightly different story allowing for a nice comedic effect.

Brenda Carter read The Alchemist: A Graphic Novel, by Paul Coehlo, illustrated by Daniel Sampere

The Alchemist: A Graphic Novel (741.5 ALC) is based on the best-selling original text which was published in 1988. It tells the story of a young man named Santiago who is encouraged to find his ‘personal legend’ or treasure. In the novel, your personal legend "is what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is."

Santiago embarks on a journey through the desert to find his treasure, a journey which is characterised by determination, perseverance and self-discovery. He encounters blessings and misfortunes, and meets a number of interesting characters along the way who teach him valuable lessons.

Sampere is better known for illustrating action hero graphic novels, but writes:

When I started working on the pages, the magic of the book quickly invaded me…I think when you read the novel, you get a very relaxed feeling, it just calms you in a very good way…I tried to create an art style that would transmit this sensation that the original book gave you.

Whether you have read the original text or have yet to try it, the graphic novel version is an aesthetically enjoyable way to consider the challenges of stepping out of your comfort zone and following your heart.