American Knight-Fish by Shaw, 1803
American Knight-Fish by George Shaw, engraved by James Heath, published in General Zoology 1803
Today known as the jack-knife fish, the american Knight-fish was first classified by Linnaeus in 1758. He called it Chaetodon lanceolatus, but as zoologists learned more about this species it's scientific name was slightly altered. While it retained its species name of lanceolatus, its genus name was changed and is currently Equetus. The jack-knife fish is a yellowish-white color marked with three brownish-black bands. It is found in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean Sea and lives mainly on coral reefs. Non-aggressive and shy in nature, it prefers areas with lots of hiding places. Jack-knife fish are carnivores. Their diet consists of crabs, shrimp, and small invertebrates. They can be kept in large saltwater aquariums, but they can be difficult to care for, because of their diet.
George Shaw (1751-1813) was a doctor and zoologist. In 1786 he became an assistant lecturer at Oxford University. He help co-found the Linnean Society in 1788 and became a fellow of the Royal Society a year later. Shaw was appointed as assistant keeper to the department of natural history at the British museum in 1791, and was promoted to keeper in 1806. When he became keeper, much of the Hans Sloane collection was in such terrible condition, many of the specimens had to be destroyed. His salary was so low that Shaw took to writing in order to support himself. As a result the collection was of often neglected. He published a number of books on zoology and was the first to publish a scientific description of the platypus and many other Australian species.
James Heath (1757-1834) was a successful English engraver. He enjoyed the patronage of King George III and other monarchs. Apprenticed to Joseph Collyer (1748-1847), he became highly proficient and technically skilled. In 1791, Heath became an associate member of the Royal Academy. King George III appointed him as his royal engraver in 1794. His illegitimate son, Charles, also became a very successful engraver. Throughout his career Heath had numerous students. He retired from engraving in 1823.
- Naomi Bean