Here’s a wood block print of a calanchi goose from Ulisse Aldrovandi (Italy, 1522-1605), who compiled one of the sixteenth century’s largest and most comprehensive collections of information about natural history. He also collected about 7000 specimens of biodiversity in a famous cabinet of curiosities, which he left in his will to the city of Bologna. We know the names of a few of the artists who worked with Aldrovandi in illustrating his works, but unfortunately I can’t definitely attribute this particular piece to anyone. However, one of the possible artists, Jacopo Ligozzi, is described by Wikipedia as “the Audubon of late Renaissance Florence.” One thing I find interesting about this goose is that there is a distinctly reptilian look to its head, and its beak looks almost toothed. Coincidence? I think not. But I also like the two silly little tail-feather tufts, which are not at all draconic.
Aldrovandi was born and lived in Bologna, in which neighborhood you will find the “calanchi” badlands and the Pliocene Foothills, but I probably don’t need to tell you that a search for dragons might well be a wild calanchi goose chase. Because, yes, this is all a lot of Bologna.
[Picture: Anser quadrupes (Four-footed goose), wood block print from Ulisse Aldrovandi, 1570 (Image from University of Oklahoma Libraries).]