Maria Sibylla Merian (2 April 1647 – 13 January 1717) was a German-born naturalist and scientific illustrator. She was one of the first European naturalists to observe insects directly, and in 1679 published the first volume of a two-volume series on caterpillars, the second volume following in 1683. Each volume contained 50 plates engraved and etched by Merian. She documented evidence on the process of metamorphosis and the plant hosts of 186 European insect species. In 1699 Merian travelled to Dutch Surinam to study and record the tropical insects. In 1705 she published Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium. Few colour images of the New World were printed before 1700 and thus Merian's Metamorphosis has been credited with influencing a range of naturalist illustrators. Because of her careful observations and documentation of the metamorphosis of the butterfly, she is considered by David Attenborough to be among the most significant contributors to the field of entomology. She was a leading entomologist of her time and she discovered many new facts about insect life through her studies. In June 1701 malaria forced her to return to the Dutch Republic.Back in the Netherlands Merian opened a shop. She sold specimens she had collected and engravings of plant and animal life in Suriname. In 1705, she published a book Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium about the insects of Suriname.In 1715, Merian suffered a stroke. Despite being partially paralysed she continued her work. Maria Sibylla Merian died in Amsterdam on 13 January 1717.