Marcus Elieser Bloch was a German medical doctor and naturalist. He was born into an extremely poor family in Ansbach in 1723 and received very little education growing up. By the time he reached adulthood, he could not even read German, his native language. However, thanks to some knowledge of Hebrew and rabbinical literature, he was able to secure a teaching position with a Jewish surgeon in Hamburg. After learning German and some Latin thoroughly, he began to study anatomy, which in turn sparked his enthusiasm for the natural sciences. He went to Berlin and began to study all branches of science and medicine. Today, he is considered one of the most important ichthyologists of the 18th century, and his encyclopedic work on fishes, captured in a 12-volume series entitled Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische, is still today considered extremely important. Though Bloch didn't live to see our book of the week published, as he died in 1799, it serves as a beautiful legacy of the incredible career of this dedicated naturalist.
For the post, we thought we'd showcase some of our favorite illustrations from the book. However, we'd be remiss in our duty if we didn't admit that it was very difficult to choose just a few, and you should spend some time looking through all of the illustrations. They really are worth a few minutes, or even hours, or your time! But, for now, here are our favorites!
1) Callionymus orientalis, today known as Synchiropus orientalis
2) Chaetodon nicobariensi, today known as Pomacanthus imperator
5) Muraena myrus, today known as Echelus myrus