Classifying Aldrovandi’s Animal Kingdom

Science Week 2021!

We regularly take a curious look at our collection of Aldrovandi books with their amazing prints of the animal kingdom.  We thought it would be great to use the images for developing skills in classifying animals and identifying their differing characteristics.

Use the images as a discussion point with the students. Do they see some inaccuracies in some of the images? (these may have been drawn by someone who had never seen the animal and were working from descriptions alone — a great activity to do with children).  Are there some red herrings in here? (probably from his Monstrorum Historia published in 1642).  Take a look at the eclectic group of living things in these three sheets to print and cut out.

Ulisse Aldrovandi lived from 1522 to 1605. An amazing naturalist and collector,  he left his collection to the Senate of his home town of Bologna in Italy. Although it was almost dispersed in the eighteenth century, the collection is still preserved in Bologna.


Download the resources below and use them in anyway that suits your class of students.  These include: Aldrovandi bio, identified curriculum aims and objectives for the primary cycle, charts to identify the characteristics of vertebrates and invertebrates, a blank venn diagram to add your own labels to e.g. ‘has scales’, ‘has wings’, ‘no legs’ etc. and finally a blank decision tree.

Aldrovandi Biography
Science Curriculum (Classes 1-6)











Vertebrates (with backbone)
Invertebrates (without backbone)








Blank decision tree
Venn diagram


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