Jon Swammerdam, an early Dutch microscopist, was among the very earliest of those to devote themselves to the infinitely small . Swammerdam was born in Amsterdam and educated in medicine at the University of Leiden. After receiving his degree in 1667 he devoted himself to microscopic studies of animals and plants, developing techniques for exploring this new field of science. Among other achievements he gave the first description of the red blood corpuscles and discovered the valves of the lymph vessels and was among the first to be able to perceive through a microscope tiny human forms contained within male sperm cells. He also made important observations of the morphology of insects on the basis of complete and incomplete forms of metamorphosis. In his fourth decade, Swammerdam fell under the influence of a religious mystic and by 1673, broken by ill health, he abandoned his scientific work. During his life, Swammerdam's work was largely unknown and unacknowledged.
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