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"Una nueva especie de ajolote de la Laguna de Patzacuaro" from La Naturaleza, vol. I (1869)

(Image courtesy of the British Library)

Mexico’s political environment began to stabilize during the post-1867 days of the República restaurada (restored republic). In this period, metropolitan intellectuals sought to reform the educational system and bring to Mexico a scientific culture that could boast institutions capable of rivaling those in Europe and the United States. One such effort was the foundation of the Sociedad Mexicana de Historia Natural, which began publishing its magazine La Naturaleza from 1869. The magazine contains reflections on the development of global scientific discoveries; it is also an effort to bring awareness to the country’s unique flora and fauna.

Studies on the axolotl—a native species of Mexico’s waterways—appear throughout La Naturaleza’s numbers. In articles published as late as the early 1880s, for example, Mexican writers offer correctives to erroneous European assumptions about the salamander, such as the idea that it remains in a larval state its whole life, without ever becoming an adult, or amblystoma. The image exhibited here, from the first volume of the publication, displays an illustration by Viuda Murgía and sons, who designed images for this and other scientific magazines of the period.

Text: María del Pilar Blanco

Two-page layout from La NaturalezaPeriódico científico de la Sociedad Mexicana de Historia Natural, vol. I (1869-87), including illustration “Una nueva especie de ajolote de la Laguna de Patzacuaro,” by Viuda Murgía e hijos (1869).