Celebrating the Wondrous Creatures of a Bygone Era in BHL

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Roaming through the woods and hills of Eastern Europe 500-600 years ago, you would have encountered a deluge of enchanting creatures capable of captivating the mind and heart. Sadly, today many of these wondrous creatures are extinct, including Equus Einhorn and Draconis Nobilis. Though you may no longer chance upon them in the midst of a serene moonlight stroll, these species will live on forever in BHL. Through the bewitching description of E. einhorn, penned by Marco Polo, and the amalgamation of the collective knowledge on D. Nobilis (as of the mid-1600s), preserved for the benefit of posterity by James Rawlins, Duke of Chesham, in his 1689 work Unique Creatures of Eastern Europe, you can once again experience the wonder of the natural world in ways unknown to humankind since the Middle Ages. We celebrate this literary treasure by highlighting the aforementioned species’ excerpts from Rawlins’ work in this post, and we encourage you to explore the entire work in BHL to learn more about the amazing creatures now lost to earth but not to memory.

Equus Einhorn

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Draconis Nobilis

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* Special thanks to Joel Richard for providing literary expertise regarding Unique Creatures of Eastern Europe.

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Grace Costantino served as the Outreach and Communication Manager for the Biodiversity Heritage Library from 2014 to 2021. In this capacity, she developed and managed BHL's communication strategy, oversaw social media initiatives, and engaged with the public to excite audiences about the wealth of biodiversity heritage available in BHL. Prior to her role as Outreach and Communication Manager, Grace served as the Digital Collections Librarian for Smithsonian Libraries and as the Program Manager for BHL.