image catesbyrs vol263
Image number: RS.18807
Credit: ©The Royal Society

American alligator




Mark Catesby (1683-1749, British), Naturalist

Object type

Library reference





Content object

   > animal


Zoological study of an American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, referred to here as Lacertus omnium maximus, shown in left profile, alongside its egg [right] and below a red mangrove Rhizophora mangle specimen.

Inscribed below: 'Lacertus'

Written in the associated description: 'They frequent not only salt Rivers near the Sea, but Streams of fresh Water in the Upper Parts of the Country, and in Lakes of Salt and fresh Water, on the Banks of which they lye lurking among Reeds, to surprise Cattle and other Animals.'

Plate 63 from volume II of Mark Catesby’s The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (London, 1731).

Mark Catesby (1683-1749), British naturalist was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1733. Travelling under the auspices of the Royal Society, Catesby recorded the earliest western scientific descriptions of the flora and fauna of the ‘New World’. He was the first naturalist to use folio-sized colour plates in a natural history book, and etched the copper plates himself before hand-colouring each individual print with watercolours.

Associated place

<The World>
   > North America
      > United States
<The World>
   > North America
      > Bahamas