Agostino Scilla

Agostino Scilla

Agostino Scilla (August 10, 1629-May 31, 1700) was an Italian painter, paleontologist, geologist, and pioneer in the study of fossils.

The son of a government official in Messina, Sicily, Scilla studied under Andrea Sacchi in Rome and became a painter. He began to study fossils found in the hills of Sicily, sometimes accompanied by botanist Paolo Boccone. Scilla's only written scientific work is La vana speculazione disingannata dal senso ("Vain Speculation Undeceived by Sense", 1670). In this work he argues for a scientific explanation for fossils, as opposed to them being of fantastic origin or a test of faith from God. He also correctly identified the supposedly magical objects that were called glossopetrae, or "tongue stones", as the teeth of sharks.

After participating in an unsuccessful revolt against Spanish rule, in 1678 he was exiled from Sicily. Scilla worked as a painter in Turin and then Rome for the rest of his life.

Dorsum Scilla on the Moon is named after him.

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