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Eulàlia Gassó Miracle

Entomology collections - Lepidoptera (Rhopalocera)


Email: eulalia.gassomiracle@naturalis.nl
Phone: +31 (0)71 56 87 553
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 education and consultancy in forensic entomology. Besides my work with as collection manager I research the history of 19th century natural history, focusing on pre-Darwinian methods for zoological classification.


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.

Academic teaching

Lectures on (Forensic) Entomology and Museology for graduate students, medical doctors and police academy students.


Collection interest

Lepidoptera Collections

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

Public outreach

Public (museum) talks for children and adults on Entomology, Museology and History of Science.


Research interest

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

By studying the scientific work between 1820 and 1860 at Naturalis Biodiversity Center, I aim to put the scientific philosophy of this museum and its natural historians in the context of their time.

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 analyze the scientific activity at the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie (RMNH), now Naturalis, between 1820 and 1860 to elucidate the role of the RMNH in answering all these questions. 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), founder and first director of the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie, Leiden (now Naturalis Biodiversity Center).

 Temminck’s manuscripts kept in the Naturalis archives.


Gassó Miracle, M.E. (2011) On Whose Authority? Temminck’s Debates on Zoological Classification and Nomenclature: 1820-1850. Journal of the History of Biology. Published online: 5 January 2011 (DOI: 10.1007/s10739-010-9265-1 Online First™ ).

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. Published online: 11 July 2008 (DOI: 10.1007/s10739-008-9158-8).

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. Proceedings of a workshop organized on 19 May 2006 in Leiden, The Netherlands. 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, 21-26 September 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.

In preparation:

Gassó Miracle, M.E. Type specimens of the tribus Goliathini, Cetoniidae (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea) in the National Museum of Natural History, Leiden, The Netherlands.