Today in Science History

Darwin’s ship HMS Beagle reached the Galapagos Islands on this day in 1835.

From Today in Science History:

Francis Simpson (Born 15 Sep 1912; died 10 Nov 2003). Francis William Simpson was an English naturalist, conservationist and chronicler of the countryside and wild flowers of his native Suffolk. His love of nature began in school, when one of his teachers gave him a flora, a descriptive list of the region’s plants. He became a botanist at Ipswich Museum, where he worked until his retirement in 1977. In 1938, he saved a small meadow, famous for its snakeshead fritillaries, from being drained and ploughed into farmland. Using donations amounting to £75, he was able to purchase the field, Mickfield Meadow, for the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves. Today, it is one of the oldest nature reserves in the country, protecting the meadow flowers in this small area now surrounded by farmland.

Frank Eugene Lutz (Born 15 Sep 1879; died 27 Nov 1943). American entomologist, museum curator, educator, conservationist, and writer who was probably the leading U.S. entomologist of the first half of the twentieth century. He who taught that insects were an integral part of the environment. As a boy, his fascination as a boy watching a caterpillar shedding its skin developed into a lifelong interest in insects. In 1909, he joined the American Museum of Natural History and became (1921) the first curator of the newly created Department of Entomology, where he remained for the rest of life. He created popular museum exhibits, including the first insect dioramas and “insect zoos” featuring live specimens. In the 1920s, established the country’s first guided nature trail in Harriman State Park, New York.

Wilhelm Roux (Died 15 Sep 1924; born 9 June 1850). German zoologist who was a founder of experimental embryology, by which he studied how organs and tissues are assigned their structural form and functions at the time of fertilization. In the 1880s, he experimented with frog eggs. He thought that mitotic cell division of the fertilized egg is the mechanism by which future parts of a developing organism are determined. He destroyed one of the two initial subdivisions (blastomeres) of a fertilized frog egg, obtaining half an embryo from the remaining blastomere. It seemed to him that determination of future parts and functions had already occurred in the two-cell stage and that each of the two blastomeres had already received the determinants necessary to form half the embryo. His theory was later negated by Hans Driesch.

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