Alexander Calder
Mercury Fountain
For many years, the world’s greatest source of mercury were the mines at Almadén, Spain, which produced some 250,000 metric tons of mercury over nearly two millennia of operation.
So when Spain decided to build a monument to the mine (which was long worked by criminals and slave laborers, most of whom died of mercury poisoning), they commissioned American sculptor Alexander Calder to build a graceful fountain which, instead of water, would pump pure mercury. It was to be displayed at the 1937 World’s Fair.
At the time, the inherent beauty of the liquid metal was well understood, but its toxicity was not. Today, the fountain resides in the Fundacio Joan Miro in Barcelona, Spain, and continues to pump pure mercury, though now it does so behind a pane of glass to protect viewers from touching or breathing fumes produced by this deadly work of art.

Blue tits  (Cyanistes caeruleus) from the Canary islands (circa 1920).
Scanned from Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery
Henrik Grönvold (1858–1940)

Tzu-chi YEH (Taiwanese, b. 1957) - Mountain by Lao River, Hualien, Rain Shower, 2012
Tempera and oil on linen (127 x 213.5 cm)

Amphisbaena fuliginosa, also known as the Black-and-white Worm Lizard, Speckled Worm Lizard or Spotted Worm Lizard

Leonardo da Vinci A Copse of Trees, 1508

Pollen from ‘Ueber den Pollen’ by Julius Fritzsche Published 1837

Happy Birthday to John James Audubon!
The artist was born in Haiti in 1785. He was sent to America in 1803, and lived on the family farm outside of Philadelphia, where he proved that the same birds return to the same nesting sites each year by tying strings around their legs. After 10 years in business—painting all the while as his hobby—Audubon went into the wilderness on an epic quest to paint the birds of American. A few years later, he sailed to England where his work “The American Woodsman” was an overnight success.
via the US National Archives on Facebook »
What is your favorite American bird?

Looks lovely. 

From: ‘Fossil Medusæ’ by Charles Doolittle Walcott. Published 1898

oldbookillustrations: Sphinx Moths (family Sphingidae)

Gynoeryx meander, Batocnema coquerelii, Adhemarius palmeri, Madoryx bubastus, Xylophanes tyndarus.
Poujade, from Histoire naturelle des insectes (Natural history of insects), atlas to volumes 5, 6, 7, by Jean-Baptiste Boisduval and Achille Guénée, Paris, 1836-1858.
(Source: archive.org)

Tara Donovan | Photo: ChicagoSage