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History of Ichnology

Research

�g one and another rock layers, there are the traces of the worms that crawled in them when they were not yet dry.Ⲡ/>
"Come nelle falde, infra le l촲a si trovano ancora gli andamenti delli lombrici, che caminavano infra esse quando non erano ancora asciutte".
(Leonardo da Vinci, Leicester Codex, folio 10v)


Until recent times, science historians agreed on a recent origin of ichnology and separated its beginnings from those of body fossil paleontology. The origins of ichnology were placed in the 19th century when invertebrate trace fossils had an erroneous botanical interpretation.
By exploring the work of naturalists from the Renaissance times, I provided new information on the origins of ichnology:

1) Leonardo da Vinci, founding father of ichnology. Leonardo da Vinci left us a wealth of ichnological writings within his notebooks wherein he dealt with bioerosional and bioturbation traces, both modern and recent. Leonardo੣hnological notes were written to support his theory on marine body fossils and sedimentatary geology.
Intriguingly, I also discovered 'the Mona Lisa of Ichnology', a trace fossil (Paleodictyon) hand-drawn by da Vinci itself. Possibly, ichnofossils are also found in the Virgin of the Rocks and the Madonna of the Yarnwinder

2) Age of Naturalists. Alongside with Leonardo da Vinci, several naturalists from the Renaissance discussed and depicted trace fossils. For this reason, I established an 'Age of Naturalists' in the History of Ichnology which covers the earliest roots of this discipline.

The Age of Naturalists, a new stage in the history of ichnology. Figure from Baucon, A. 2008. Italy, the Cradle of Ichnology: the legacy of Aldrovandi and Leonardo. In: Avanzini M., Petti F. Italian Ichnology, Studi Trent. Sci. Nat. Acta Geol., 83

Aldrovandi's Cosmorhaphe. Figure from Baucon, A. 2008. Italy, the Cradle of Ichnology: the legacy of Aldrovandi and Leonardo. In: Avanzini M., Petti F. Italian Ichnology, Studi Trent. Sci. Nat. Acta Geol., 83

3) Fractals and Ichnology. The origins of ichnology are located in a land of convergence between Art and Science, in a historical period 䨥 Renaissance 䵲ing which the scientific method had its birth. Trace fossils were studied and graphically represented by preeminent naturalists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Konrad Gesner, Johann Bauhin and UlisseAldrovandi
who defined ichnofossils as 裥ptionally beautifulרat was the reason of the aesthetic interest on trace fossils?
In order to answer this question, I explored the representation of trace fossils in the Renaissance by employing a method widely used in studying visual perception 没ctal geometry. I proved that the aesthetic perception of traces is closely tied to their fractal dimension, and many traces are aesthetically appealing because they have fractal behaviour.


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