The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Boring work: Penn State University wormhole sleuth peeks into ancient beetle history
The partially carved woodblock "The Wedding of Mopsus and Nisa" by Bruegel (1566), with actual wormholes. Wormholes reproduced in ancient wood-printed illustrations have revealed the odyssey of European beetles, set against a backdrop of climate change and globalization. In an unusual study released on November 21, biologist Blair Hedges at Penn State University in Pennsylvania looked at art printed with carved blocks of wood, a technique that illustrated millions of books before mechanised printing. Wormholes in prints from northern Europe, including England, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and northern France, were small and round, averaging 1.43 millimetres (0.057 inches) across, he found. But prints from Spain, Portugal, Italy and the southern two-thirds of France had bigger holes, averaging 2.3mm (0.09 inches) in width, as well as longer holes and tracks. AFP PHOTO / METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
PARIS (AFP).- Wormholes reproduced in ancient wood-printed illustrations have revealed the odyssey of European beetles, set against a backdrop of climate change and globalisation.

In an unusual study released Wednesday, biologist Blair Hedges at Penn State University in Pennsylvania looked at art printed with carved blocks of wood, a technique that illustrated millions of books before mechanised printing.

He pored over dozens of illustrations made in Europe from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century.

His quest: to count tiny, inky traces of wormholes left in the woodblock by beetle borers.

"These tiny errors or interruptions in the print serve as 'trace fossils'," becoming an indicator of when and where they were made and the species that made them, Hedges said.

Wormholes in prints from northern Europe, including England, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and northern France, were small and round, averaging 1.43 millimetres (0.057 inches) across, he found.

But prints from Spain, Portugal, Italy and the southern two-thirds of France had bigger holes, averaging 2.3mm (0.09 inches) in width, as well as longer holes and tracks.

The two kinds of wormhole, said Hedges, point to two species -- the common furniture beetle (Anobium punctatum), whose habitat was northern Europe, and the Mediterranean furniture beetle (Oligomerus ptilinoides), which lived in southern Europe.

A clear line in temperature divided their habitats, running across northern France, Switzerland and Austria.

Today, though, the picture is different. The two species now broadly overlap, thanks to a warmer climate in Europe, as well as international trade.

"Today, and for the past 100 years, because travel, shipping and furniture transportation tends to spread insects around, we find both species all over northern and southern Europe and elsewhere in the world," said Hedges.

Wormholes occur when beetles lay their eggs in cracks and crevices in the tree or log -- in this case, pear, apple and boxwood, which were the favoured material for woodblock illustrators.

The larvae burrow into the wood, spending three or four years chomping on its cellulose, before they develop into pupae and are transformed into adults.

As beetles, they then burrow upwards to the surface of the wood, and it is this exit hole that forms the wormhole.

Hedges measured the size of more than 3,000 printed wormholes in artwork dating from 1462 to 1899 to provide his unusual "record."

His work, published on Wednesday in the British journal Biology Letters, adds another tool for scientists delving into a time in history for which data is scarce. Similar "proxies" are used, for instance, in ice cores, corals and lakeshore sediment.

ri/mlr/lc


© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse



Today's News

November 23, 2012

Frida Kahlo's personal items come out of the closet for new exhibition at Casa Azul

Sotheby's inaugural Auction of Asian and Western Contemporary Art in Asia to be held on 3 December

Christie's London to offer works from the collection of businessman John Schaeffer

David Livingstone exhibition opens at National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

Turkey's Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay wants talks with France on 'stolen' antiques

Christie's announces African and Oceanic Art Sale to be held in Paris on 11 December

"Sam Francis: Works from the 1950s on paper and canvas" on view at Gallery Delaive

Christie's Latin American Sale in May 2013 to include a selection of works donated to the Americas Society

Bill Watterson published Calvin & Hobbes Sunday strip brings world record $203,150 at Heritage Auctions

Rhinoceros horn, furnishings, decorative finery in Michaan's Asian Auction

Boring work: Penn State University wormhole sleuth peeks into ancient beetle history

Gun from Australia's Kelly gang sells for $126,000 at Leski Auctions in Melbourne

Solo exhibition of work by New York artist Robert Sagerman on view at Brian Gross Fine Art

The Jewish Museum continues new exhibition series with Collection Tableaux

Reward offered for stolen California rock carvings

Trash from Everest recycled into sculpture

Letters and documents from The War of 1812 up for auction in Waddingtons.ca's Decorative Arts Auction

Rare Carlos Sabrino Cuban painting found at auction

Second chapter of iPad and iPhone app series "Great Photographers" features William Klein

The Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane presents a survey exhibition of key works by Lawrence Carroll

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Archaeologists discover Roman 'free choice' cemetery in the 2,700-year-old ancient port of Rome

2.- Romanians must pay 18 million euros over Kunsthal Museum Rotterdam art heist

3.- Hello Kitty designer Yuko Yamaguchi defends cute character as cat turns 40 years old

4.- eBay and Sotheby's partner to bring world class art and collectibles to a global community

5.- Exhibition on Screen returns with new series of films bringing great art to big screens across the globe

6.- Marina Abramović reaches half way point of her '512 Hours' performance at the Serpentine Gallery

7.- The Phillips Collection in Washington introduces a uCurate app for curating on-the-go

8.- United States comic icon Archie Andrews dies saving openly gay character

9.- New feathered predatory fossil, unearthed in China, sheds light on dinosaur flight

10.- Exhibition at Thyssen Bornemisza Museum presents an analysis of the concept of the 'unfinished'



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Rmz. - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site