In the late eighteenth century, against a troubled background of violent change on the continent and rising challenges to the Establishment at home, botanists were discovering strange creatures that defied the categories of ‘animal, vegetable, and mineral’. Scientists started to question: What of coral? Was it a rock or a living form? Did plants have sexes, like animals? The boundaries appeared to blur. And what did all this say about the nature of life itself? Were animals and plants soul-less, mechanical forms, as Descartes suggested? The debates raging across science played into some of the biggest and most controversial issues of Enlightenment Europe. Take the quiz below and test your knowledge of this exciting period in the history of life sciences.
Quiz image credit: Low Tide, by Dawn Endico. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flikr.
Featured Image credit: Coral Reef at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, by Jim Maragos/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. CC BY 2.0 via Flikr.