Search engine giant Google on Tuesday marked the 366th birth anniversary of German artist-naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian with a new doodle on its homepage.
The doodle features images of plants, reptiles and insects including caterpillars, moths, butterflies and a green iguana to showcase Merian's contribution to entomology.
Merian was born on 2 April, 1647 in Frankfurt, Germany, into the family of a Swiss engraver and publisher. Merian's step father, a life painter, encouraged her to paint. She began painting images of insects and plants from specimens she had captured at the age of thirteen.
She was fascinated about the natural world and made her first painting showing the life cycles of butterflies, after which she made awe-inspiring illustrations of life cycles of various insects.
In 1665, Merian married an apprentice from Nuremberg. After the birth of her first child, she moved with her family to Nuremberg. She continued painting as well as creating designs for embroidery patterns. Her first publication was "Neues Blumenbuch" (New book of flowers) that appeared in three parts in 1675-80. It was a model book that showed drawings of single flowers or flower patterns for embroidery and other handicrafts.
One year after the birth of her second child in 1678, Merian published her second book called "Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandlung und sonderbare Blumennahrung" - The Caterpillar's Marvelous Transformation and Strange Floral Food. The book explained in detail the life cycles of different species of butterflies as well as the plants on which they fed.
Merian left her husband in 1685 and moved with her daughters and mother to a labadist religious community in Friesland (the Netherlands). They stayed in a home owned by the governor of the Dutch colony of Suriname. During her stay there, she developed a fascination for South American tropical specimens.
In 1691, Merian moved to Amsterdam where her work was recognized by scholars and collectors. After spending eight years in Amsterdam, Merian returned to Suriname with her younger daughter. They stayed there for two years collecting specimens of exotic plants and insects. She later worked on a illustrated book - "Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium" (The Metamorphoses of the Insects of Suriname) that showed the images of various stages of development of insects which she had studied.
In 1715, Merian suffered a stroke and she became partially paralysed. Two years later, the naturalist died in Amsterdam at the age of 69.