Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717)

Maria Sibylla Merian was an exceptionally talented naturalist, entomologist and botanical artist, one of the first to study insects and to describe metamorphosis. At the age of 52 she travelled from Amsterdam to Surinam in South America, and spent two hard years in the tropical wilderness. Recording her discoveries in fine drawings, she challenged theories of spontaneous generation and laid the foundations of modern entomology. Her work was barely taken seriously, due both to her sex and to her status as an amateur scientist; but three hundred years after her death, her classification of butterflies and moths is still in use.