The Pioneering Scientists In Demonstrating That "teruel Exists"

The pioneering scientists in demonstrating that “Teruel exists”

The Clotilde and Blanca Catalán de Ocón sisters contributed to the dissemination of the fauna and flora of the Sierra de Albarracín, in the Aragonese province.

The Catalan sisters of Ocón

At the end of the 20th century, a platform of Aragonese citizens had a great media impact thanks to the campaign “¡Teruel exists!” with which they demanded better care and communication services for the aforementioned province. A motto that throughout the following years was very present in the media and that achieved put on the map to this small, but very important, territory to the south of the Community of Aragón.

But the members of the association were not the first to obtain the reconnaissance of Teruel. A century before, the sisters Blanca and Clotilde -belonging to the aristocratic family Catalan of Ocon, which owned a large part of the land in that region after being granted the Lordship by King Carlos I in 1519- placed the name of the Valdecabriel Valley (municipality of Albarracín) and the entire province in many important scientific treatises on botany and entomology of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Both, born respectively in 1860 and 1863, received an exquisite and very careful education by private teachers, although for a period they also attended the school as boarders. Despite not having studied at university, the Catalán de Ocón sisters were up to the task of many others scientific, thanks to the fact that his contributions became transcendental.

So much Blanca, with the plants, What Clotilde, with the insects, began their love for nature as a result of the long stays they made since they were little on the farm they owned in the Sierra de Albarracín. There they received all kinds of teachings about what surrounded them by the canon from Albarracin, Bernardo Zapater y Marconell, who, in addition to being a family friend and confessor, was one of the greatest botanical scholars of our country at that time.

Zapater was a founding member, in 1871, of the Royal Spanish Society of Natural History and later he presided over the Aragonese Society of Natural Sciences. Thanks to the contacts she established with specialists from other parts of the planet, she made it possible for the girls to correspond with them, which meant that over the years they appeared cited in some important writings of the time.

Their contributions were so outstanding that even the famous Saxon botanist Heinrich Moritz Willkomm (often referred to as Mauricio) even renamed the plant known as Saxifraga Glanulata with the name of Saxifraga Blanca. A privilege that made the largest of Catalán de Ocón sisters not only in the Spanish pioneer in practicing botany but also in the first whose name appears in a binomial nomenclature.

Blanca collected a large number of plants and flowers from the landscape of Valdecabriel which shared both with Canon Zapater and with the botanist Willkomm. Over the years he managed to publish in the magazine Teruel Miscellaneous a Catalogue in which up to 83 species were collected, citing their scientific names and giving their description.

For your part Clotilde She became a great fan of entomology, feeling true passion especially towards butterflies. Like his sister, he managed to publish his texts in the aforementioned magazine under the heading of Teruel entomological fauna and in it he unveiled his extensive collection of lepidoptera.

Bernardo Zapater became the great supporter of their work, although an important part of it appeared under the name of the canon and the appointments in which both Blanca and Clotilde (commonly their initials) appeared named were only occasional.

Another field in which the sisters coincided was that of the poetry. Both have behind them a prolific work, although it was the younger of the two who achieved more success in this discipline, being much better known for this facet than for that related to science and insects.

Thanks to Blanca and Clotilde Catalán de Ocón, today we know much of the Flora and fauna from the province of Teruel and, more specifically, from the Sierra de Albarracín. His valuable work placed this province Not only on the maps but in natural science books, something that, however, did not happen with their name, which has been frequently ignored throughout the last century.