Behind every great scientist are his two teenage daughters

This is one of many beautiful engravings made by Anna and Susanna Lister, the daughters of the renowned 17th century naturalist Martin Lister. These scientifically accurate illustrations created by two teenagers helped inspire Charles Darwin's work on natural selection.

Anna and Susanna Lister were only about 15 and 13 when their father put them to work making scientific illustrations of his comprehensive database of all known shells. His Historiae Conchyliorum was one of the great achievements of natural science in the 17th century, and Charles Darwin would later cite the text during his own research on natural selection. Martin Lister rose to the position of vice president of the Royal Society, Great Britain's preeminent scientific organization.

Behind every great scientist are his two teenage daughtersS

Lister's daughters are thought to be the first women ever to use microscopes while preparing scientific drawings. At a time when women could not participate in the sciences on an equal footing with their male counterparts, these two teenage girls made some of the most significant contributions to 17th century science by anyone, male or female.

Behind every great scientist are his two teenage daughtersS

Oxford historian Anna Marie Roos has put together a collection of these engravings that she discovered at the university's Bodleian Library. You can click on the Nature link below to see more examples of these amazing works of 17th century science.

[Scientific American via Nature News]