The 'Allocamelus', 1607.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Woodcut of what was probably one of the first llamas to be seen in Europe. 'They said that it was an Indian sheep, out of the region of Peru, and so was brought to Antwerp…It was about two yards high, and five foot in length, the neck was as a white as any Swan...'. Illustration from 'The Historie of foure-footed beastes' by Edward Topsell (1572-1625?) published in London in 1607. Topsell's main source was 'Historiae animalium' by Conrad Gesner (1516-1565) published in 1551. The engravings are exact reproductions of those in Gesner's work. Topsell's work was the first major book on animals printed in Britain in English. It summarized all real and mythical zoological knowledge collected since antiquity, but it was soon rendered obsolete by new discoveries.