Jesús Sánchez’s Mexican Medical Zoology

Sánchez, Jesús. Datos para la zoología médica mexicana: arácnidos é insectos. México: Oficina Tipográfica de la Secretaría de Fomento, 1893. viii, 189, iv pages, 9 leaves of plates : illustrations ; 23 cm.

With the single purpose of serving the country and with the belief that scientific study should be used with practical ends, Doctor Jesús Sánchez elaborated his essay on Mexican Medical Zoology (Datos para la zoología médica mexicana), where he acknowledges “the value of studying the animal kingdom, within which exists a vast variety that can offer both benefits and diseases”.

Equally, he states that it “is not only important to study the organisms living inside our own bodies, it is also necessary to know those whose venoms, when inoculated in the human body, can cause, from very light inconveniences, to very serious symptoms and even death”. That is why the author developed an essay about this topic, identifying, describing and studying arachnids and insects from several parts of Mexico that cause damage to the human health.

Doctor Jesús Sánchez was a physician by profession, a member of the Academy of Medicine, and responsible of the professorships in Zoology and Biology at the National High School and the National School of Agriculture, where he has dedicated several years to the compilation of insects; these where included in his work of Mexican Medical Zoology, published in 1893. A second edition or reprint of this work has never been published.

During the development of this work, Doctor Sánchez exchanged knowledge, talks and experiences with the doctors and brothers Alfredo and Eugenio Dugés. Alfredo Dugés was a great illustrator who made a perfect descriptive work of the Aquatic Spider, or hydroarachnid, native of Guanajuato. Dugés directed Sánchez and recommended the research of other zoology scholars, like Fernando Altamirano, Lauro Jimenez, Antonio Peñafiel, Alfonso Herrera and Gumersindo Mendoza, among others, as well as other prominent publications from the naturalists Francisco J. Clavijero and Jose Alzate Ramirez.

Datos para la zoología médica mexicana describes, in a detailed manner, nine orders of arachnids and scorpions, as well as five orders of insects, ants and bees, using a mixture of a colloquial and technical language, explaining symptoms, cures and medicines that can be used to fight against symptoms caused by the bites or contact with insects. Within his work we can find a remarkably detailed index of every order and term, as well as illustrations for context.

One can appreciate nine pages that contain the illustrations of arachnids, scorpions, several insects, ants and bees, elaborated by hand with colours identical to those of the studied animals.

Being a professor of the National High School, Sánchez’s published works supported the students with knowledge and practical applications; he offered his expertise during his lectures and turned new students towards the development of science and knowledge.

Doctor Jesús Sánchez is also the author of other works related to the Mexican Medical Zoology of arachnids and insects, such as: Elementos de historia natural en forma de lecciones de cosas: Obra escrita expresamente para uso de las escuelas primarias de la nación, published in the year 1895 and available in BHL thanks to the Joint Library of Earth Sciences (Biblioteca Conjunta de Ciencias de la Tierra, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, UNAM), and the introduction of the work: Breve noticia de los establecimientos de instrucción dependientes de la Secretaría de Estado y del Despacho de Justicia e Instrucción Pública, edited in the year 1900.


Avatar for Minerva Castro Escamilla

Minerva Castro Escamilla is a Librarian at the Biblioteca Conjunta de Ciencias de la Tierra of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), which is a participant in the BHL México program.