Crabs, lobsters, shrimp and books

Mantis shrimps

This picture is a cell phone photo, like the others in this blog post. It depicts various mantis shrimp species. As depicted on a slide, part of a lecture on 16 October 2016 in the Lakenhal museum in Leiden in the Netherlands. That was after the lecture by Ms Arita Baaijens in the same hall.

The lecture was about malacostracans: crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill, woodlice and many other related crustaceans. It was by Alex Alsemgeest, an expert on books, and Charles Fransen, a biologist of Naturalis museum, specialised in crustaceans.

The title of the book is In krabbengang door kreeftenboeken, ‘Going like a crab through books about lobsters’. The book was on the shortlist of five books for the Jan Wolkers Prize; though it did not win.

It is about the work of Leiden university professor and Naturalis museum collector Lipke B. Holthuis (1921-2008).

Holthuis was of Frisian ancestry. The name Lipke means ‘northern lapwing‘ in Frisian.

Malacostracans are an important group of animals. On the morning of the lecture, diver Ms Aaf Verkade had caught several of them in the Oude Vest canal next to the Lakenhal. All invasive species: two North American crayfish species, and a Chinese mitten crab.

According to Charles Fransen, there are 70,000 malacostracan species; including 20% of all marine animals.

Isopods, 16 October 2016

This photo shows a slide about isopods, another malacostracan group.

Holthuis was recognized all over the world as an expert on this group. He described and named many newly discovered species. Eg, 279 new shrimp species.

Other species were named after him.

During the second world war, Holthuis hid from the German nazi occupiers between animal skeletons and biology magazines in the old building of the natural history museum (now: Naturalis, in a new building). During the last winter of the war, hunger caused Holthuis to get edema. He then moved to his sister’s home; where also Jews hid from the nazis.

Holthuis kept working on crabs and lobsters until two weeks before his death in 2008. He published about 12,000 pages about them. During that time, he collected about eight thousand books, and many pictures and objects (eg, porcelain depicting crabs) about these animals. These are now part of the Naturalis museum collection.

Some of the books are very old; like the 16th century De Aquatibus, by Pierre Belon.

Crab with barnacles

Holthuis also collected art depicting his favourite animals. Like this picture of a crab with barnacles (its distant relatives) on it.

Madonna with child in landscape

And this engraving by Aegidius Sadeler. ‘Madonna and child in landscape’; depicting the Virgin Mary, baby Jesus, and in the lower right corner, a crab.

Sowerby and Leach

One of the fine books collected by Holthuis is Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittaniae. It is by British illustrator James Sowerby (1757-1822), misspelled as ‘Sowersy’ in the slide, and British naturalist William Elford Leach (1790-1836).

Lamotius, 16 October 2016

This slide is about Holthuis’ last book, published in 2006. It is about Isaac Johannes Lamotius, 17th century Dutch colonial governor of Mauritius, and interested in marine animals.

Holthuis memorial volume, 16 October 2016

After Holthuis’ death, this book was published: Studies on Malacostraca: Lipke Bijdeley Holthuis Memorial Volume.

8 thoughts on “Crabs, lobsters, shrimp and books

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