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Eulàlia Gassó Miracle

Entomology collections - Lepidoptera (Rhopalocera)


Email: eulalia.gassomiracle@naturalis.nl
Phone: +31 (0)71 751 9322
Room number: D3.43, Darwinweg

I have always had an avid interest in natural history in general and in insects in particular. This has led me to study Biology and later on, to work at Naturalis, where I currently combine the management of the Naturalis butterfly collection with research on the history of 19th century natural history. My main focus is on pre-Darwinian classification, nomenclature and natural philosophy in zoology.


After my study in Biological Systems at the University of Barcelona I worked for two years at the Science Museum Cosmocaixa in Barcelona. Since 2001 I hold a position as collection manager at Naturalis. After several years of experience with insects and museum collections, in particular with the Coleptera collection, I started my training as a forensic entomologist in 2012 under the supervision of J. Huijbregts. Currently I work as Collection Manager of the Lepidoptera (Rhopalocera) collection, one of the most beautiful and complete collections of the world. Occasionally, I provide information in police investigations as a Consultant in Forensic Entomology.

In 2005 I started researching the scientific work of C.J. Temminck (1778-1858), the founder and first director of this museum, then the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie. His views on classification and geographical distribution where decisive in his understanding of the natural world and for the way he managed the museum collection. By putting  his work in the context of his time, I aim to better understand the birth of the discipline of taxonomy.

Doleschalia bisaltide, Nymphalidae. Naturalis collection.


Collection interest

Together with Rob de Vos, collection manager of the moths and microlepidoptera, I am responsible for the management (acquisition, development, archive), care (storage management, preparation, restoration) and accessibility (publication, data capture and loan policy) of the butterfly  collection.


natural history, rhopalocera, lepidoptera


Real Sociedad Española de Historia Natural

Member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Boletín de la Real Sociedad Española de Historia Natural. Sección Aula, Museos y Colecciones de Ciencias Naturales. 2014-present.

Making Sense of Illustrated Handwritten Archives

The project Making Sense of Illustrated Handwritten Archives was submitted jointly by the Leiden Centre of Data Science (LCDS), Naturalis Biodiversity Center, the universities of Groningen (ALICE), Leiden (LIACS) and Twente (STePS), and publisher Brill as creative industry partner. It was awarded € 626.000 by the NWO (the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) Creative Industry programme, matched by Brill’s € 268.000 investment (in cash and in kind). Read the project press release.  

The researchers will use an advanced system for handwriting and image recognition (Monk), complemented with contextual information on species, locations and habitats. Naturalis’ taxonomic expertise, in combination with history of science methods, will be used to refine the system further. The outcome of the project will allow Brill to offer the system as an online service for the heritage sector, as a strengthening of its digital humanities profile. This will serve both curators of illustrated handwritten archives and researchers who wish to further the understanding of these collections. (from: http://www.brill.com/about/making-sense-illustrated-handwritten-archives)

Public outreach

Public talks on entomology, museology and history of science.

Academic teaching

Lectures on (forensic) entomology, history of science and museology.


Research interest

History of natural history collections

I am very interested in the origin, ownership histories and management history of natural history collections and related archives from 1750 onward. This interest has resulted in several publications on type specimens kept in Naturalis, as well as in a growing digital collection of historical specimen labels for future reference.


Handwritting of W. de Haan, curator of Invertebrates (1823-1846).


History of 19th century natural history; pre-Darwinian zoological classification.

During the first half of the 19th century, scientists debated heatedly about important theoretical and philosophical issues. Those devoted to natural history were confronted with quite thorny questions: Is there a natural system to classify animals? Why are species distributed on earth as they are? Are species fixed or can they change into other species? Where is the fine line that separates species from variations? Pre-Darwinian naturalists were struggling to solve these issues and some of them did it in a very creative manner. I study the works of C.J, Temminck (1778-1858), founder and first director of the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie (RMNH, now Naturalis Biodiversity Center) to elucidate his role in answering all these questions, as well as to put the birth and development of the RMNH in the context of its time. I focus mainly on the type- and the species-concept, the origin and fixity of the species and the meaning of variations in pre-Darwinian zoology.

This project is being carried out with the support of Naturalis, the History of Astronomy group at the Leiden Observatory (Leiden University) and the Institute for History and Foundations of Science (Utrecht University).

C.J, Temminck (1778-1858).

 Temminck’s manuscripts kept in the Naturalis archives.


Tennent, W.J. & M.E. Gassó Miracle. A new subspecies of Nacaduba cyanea Cramer, 1775, from Buru, Maluku, Indonesia (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae). Tijdschrift voor Entomologie (in press).

Gassó Miracle, M.E. (2011). On Whose Authority? Temminck’s Debates on Zoological Classification and Nomenclature: 1820-1850. Journal of the History of Biology 44 (3): 445-481.

Hoogmoed, M.S., M.E. Gassó Miracle & L.W. van den Hoek Ostende (2010). Type specimens of recent and fossil Testudines and Crocodylia in the collections of the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis, Leiden, the Netherlands. Zoologische Mededelingen Leiden 84 (8): 159-199.

Gassó Miracle, M.E. (2008). The Significance of Temminck’s Work on Biogeography: Early Nineteenth Century Natural History in Leiden, The Netherlands. Journal of the History of Biology 41: 677-716.

Gassó Miracle, M.E., van den Hoek Ostende, L.W. & Arntzen, J.W. (2007). Type specimens of amphibians in the National Museum of Natural History, Leiden, The Netherlands. Zootaxa 1482: 25–68

Van Tol, J., Gassó Miracle, M.E., de Jong, R. & van Nieukerken, E. (2007). Results of the Invertebrate Surveys in the Gunung Lumut Protection Forest. In: de Jongh, H., Persoon, G. & Kustiawan, W. (eds.) Options for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use in Lowland Forests of Southeast Borneo. Leiden, April 2007.

Keijl G.O., Nieukerken E.J. van & Gassó Miracle M.E. (2006).Naturalis: a mity collection. Acarology: proceedings of the 12th International Congress (Amsterdam, 2006).

Gassó Miracle, M.E. (1997). La reproducción de los crocodílidos. Aspectos importantes para su manejo y conservación. Psitàcid, 2: 11-15. DEPANA, Barcelona.

Gassó Miracle, M.E. et al., (1997). Enginyeria genètica... sense fronteres? Illacrua, 51/Ecoilla 1-4. Barcelona.

Web-based publications

Sterren van Naturalis: reptielen en amfibieën. Naturalis Biodiversity Center. 2013.

In preparation

Gassó Miracle, M.E. & T. Yokochi. Type specimens of South East Asian Adoliadini (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae) in the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Jansen, J.J.F.J. & M.E. Gassó Miracle. The Australian specimens from C.J. Temminck’s private collection: revising Stresemann’s ‘Analyse von C.J. Temmincks “Catalogue Systématique” (1807)’.