Aldrovandi’s De reliquis Animalibus exanguibus libri quatuor post mortem ejus editi: nempe de Mollibus, Crustaceis, Testaceis et Zoophytis, was published by his wife, Francesca Fontana in 1606, and bought by Worth in a 1642 edition. It is likely that it was almost completed by the time of his death in 1605 and therefore reflects Aldrovandi’s own arrangement of material, and indeed, that of his wife, for she included a preface to the work. It is divided into four books: De mollibus, De crustatis, De testaceis, De zoophytis sive plantanimalibus. While the first book covers mollusca such as squid and octopuses, the second book concentrates on crustaceans such as crabs, shrimps and lobsters.
Ulisse Aldrovandi, De reliquis Animalibus exanguibus libri quatuor post mortem ejus editi: nempe de Mollibus, Crustaceis, Testaceis et Zoophytis (Bologna, 1642), p. 184, European spider crab.
This image of a European spider crab, is one of a number of striking woodcuts of crabs in De reliquis Animalibus exanguibus libri quatuor post mortem ejus editi: nempe de Mollibus, Crustaceis, Testaceis et Zoophytis (Bologna, 1642). Aldrovandi called this ‘Cancer Maia alius plurimis spinis horrens’ and noted that it was eaten boiled or roasted. Worth may even have encountered it himself in eighteenth-century Dublin for its presence was noted by John Rutty (1687–1775), off the coast of Skerries in 1772, who related that it was ‘called by some Sea Witch, or by some Sea-Spider’. Other crabs depicted by Aldrovandi were located further afield.
Spotted reef crab (Carpilius maculatus) © Zoological Museum, Trinity College Dublin.
Spotted reef crab (Carpilius maculatus). From the collections of E.P Wright, Director of the Zoological Museum (1858-1869). Also known as the clown crab, due to the colourful spots on its carapace (now lost through preservation). Widely distributed in the Indian Ocean, the South Pacific, the Hawaiian Islands, Australia, Red Sea, and South Africa. Found on coral and rocky reefs moving slowly along sandy bottoms. Legend has it that the spotted reef crab obtained its spots after a Sea God tried to capture and eat it, but the crab drew blood from the angered God and in response, left his bloodied stains on the crabs body forever.
Text: Dr Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian of the Edward Worth Library, and Dr Martyn Linnie, Curator of the Zoological Museum, Trinity College Dublin.
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Rutty, John, An essay towards a natural history of the county of Dublin, 2 vols (Dublin, 1772).
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 Antonino, Biancastella (ed.), Les Animaux et les Créatures Monstrueuses d’Ulisse Aldrovandi (Arles, 2005), p. 38.
 Rutty, John, An essay towards a natural history of the county of Dublin, (Dublin, 1772), i, p. 375.