Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Aldrovandi on Chickens

I was fortunate to acquire a copy of L.R. Lind's translation of Aldrovandi on Chickens, from a used book dealer in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was published by the University of Oklahoma Press but went out of print in 1974. I contacted the Press and discussed whether they would consider reprinting it. They are going to a print-on-demand system, so it's possible this book will become more available again.

It's the first book written exclusively on chickens, in 1600 by Ulisse Aldrovandi, who was a naturalist and professor at the University of Bologna in Italy. The volume on chickens is actually the second volume of his comprehensive work on birds, Ornithologia. It was originally written in Latin, the language of academics at that time.

He paid for the woodcuts that illustrated it himself, which include documentation such as this Persian rooster and hen. Their rumplessness is interesting. I'd like to know whether chickens anywhere in the Middle East retain this quality. It's now associated with South American chickens, which raises the question as to whether these chickens traveled across to the other side of the world in times past.

He also includes strange birds, such as ones with more than two legs and weird siamese twin birds.

I'm grateful to have found this copy. It's in excellent condition, even the dust jacket intact.

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