New graphic novels about Humboldt’s and Darwin’s travels

Humboldt & Darwin graphic novels

Two recent books take the world travels of two of the most important figures in the history of science and digest them into readable and visually appealing formats. As graphic novels, these books have the potential to reach audiences who would not necessarily pick up Andrea Wulf’s The Invention of America: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World or Charles Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle.

Andrea Wulf and Lilian Melcher (illustrator), The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt (Pantheon, 2019), 272 pp. [Amazon|Powell’s|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound]

Publisher’s description Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, but his most revolutionary idea was a radical vision of nature as a complex and interconnected global force that does not exist for the use of humankind alone. His theories and ideas were profoundly influenced by a five-year exploration of South America. Now Andrea Wulf partners with artist Lillian Melcher to bring this daring expedition to life, complete with excerpts from Humboldt’s own diaries, atlases, and publications. She gives us an intimate portrait of the man who predicted human-induced climate change, fashioned poetic narrative out of scientific observation, and influenced iconic figures such as Simón Bolívar, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, and John Muir. This gorgeous account of the expedition not only shows how Humboldt honed his groundbreaking understanding of the natural world but also illuminates the man and his passions.

Links: reviews from Nature, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus; an animation for the book; story on Science Friday (and excerpt)

Fabien Grolleau and Jérémie Royer (illustrator), Darwin: An Exceptional Voyage (Nobrow, 2019), 184 pp. [Amazon|Powell’s|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound]

Publisher’s description This sweeping, intelligent and immersive biographical graphic novel from award-winning creators, joins legendary scientist Charles Darwin as a young man, as he embarks on his voyage on the H.M.S. Beagle. ~ It is the year 1831. A gifted but distracted young man named Charles Darwin has been offered a place aboard the H.M.S. Beagle, in a chain of events that will change both his life and the course of modern science. Join him on an epic journey of thrilling discovery as he explores remote corners of the natural world and pieces together the very beginnings of his revolutionary theory of evolution.

Links: review from Multiversity Comics; excerpt from The Comics Journal

BOOK: Collecting Evolution: The Galapagos Expedition that Vindicated Darwin

I am very excited for Matthew to see his book published! I’ve got a copy checked out from my library and hope to delve into it soon…


Matthew J. James, Collecting Evolution: The Galapagos Expedition that Vindicated Darwin (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017),  304 pp.

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Publisher’s description In 1905, eight men from the California Academy of Sciences set sail from San Francisco for a scientific collection expedition in the Galapagos Islands, and by the time they were finished in 1906, they had completed one of the most important expeditions in the history of both evolutionary and conservation science. These scientists collected over 78,000 specimens during their time on the islands, validating the work of Charles Darwin and laying the groundwork for foundational evolution texts like Darwin’s Finches. Despite its significance, almost nothing has been written on this voyage, lost amongst discussion of Darwin’s trip on the Beagle and the writing of David Lack.

In Collecting Evolution, author Matthew James finally tells the story of the 1905 Galapagos expedition. James follows these eight young men aboard the Academy to the Galapagos and back, and reveals the reasons behind the groundbreaking success they had. A current Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, James uses his access to unpublished writings and photographs to provide unprecedented insight into the expedition. We learn the voyagers’ personal stories, and how, for all the scientific progress that was made, just as much intense personal drama unfolded on the trip. This book shares a watershed moment in scientific history, crossed with a maritime adventure. There are four tangential suicides and controversies over credit and fame. Collecting Evolution also explores the personal lives and scientific context that preceded this voyage, including what brought Darwin to the Galapagos on the Beagle voyage seventy years earlier. James discusses how these men thought of themselves as “collectors” before they thought of themselves as scientists, and the implications this had on their approach and their results.

In the end, the voyage of the Academy proved to be crucial in the development of evolutionary science as we know it. It is the longest expedition in Galapagos history, and played a critical role in cementing Darwin’s legacy. Collecting Evolution brings this extraordinary story of eight scientists and their journey to life.

Check out these radio interviews with James about his new book: The Avid Reader Show and Gulf Coast Live on WGCU

BOOK: Naturalists at Sea: Scientific Travellers from Dampier to Darwin

Glyn Williams, Naturalists at Sea: Scientific Travellers from Dampier to Darwin (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013), 328 pp.

On the great Pacific discovery expeditions of the “long eighteenth century,” naturalists for the first time were commonly found aboard ships sailing forth from European ports. Lured by intoxicating opportunities to discover exotic and perhaps lucrative flora and fauna unknown at home, these men set out eagerly to collect and catalogue, study and document an uncharted natural world. This enthralling book is the first to describe the adventures and misadventures, discoveries and dangers of this devoted and sometimes eccentric band of explorer-scholars. Their individual experiences are uniquely their own, but together their stories offer a new perspective on the extraordinary era of Pacific exploration and the achievements of an audacious generation of naturalists. Historian Glyn Williams illuminates the naturalist’s lot aboard ship, where danger alternated with boredom and quarrels with the ship’s commander were the norm. Nor did the naturalist’s difficulties end upon returning home, where recognition for years of work often proved elusive. Peopled with wonderful characters and major figures of Enlightenment science—among them Louis Antoine de Bouganville, Joseph Banks, John Reinhold Forster, Captain Cook, and Charles Darwin—this book is a gripping account of a small group of scientific travelers whose voyages of discovery were to change perceptions of the natural world.

Darwin’s Brave New World

In July of 2009, I posted about a forthcoming Australian Darwin film based on historian Iain McCalman‘s recently published book Darwin’s Armada: Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution:

Award-winning cultural historian Iain McCalman tells the stories of Charles Darwin and his most vocal supporters and colleagues: Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley, and Alfred Wallace. Beginning with the somber morning of April 26, 1882—the day of Darwin’s funeral—Darwin’s Armada steps back in time and recounts the lives and scientific discoveries of each of these explorers. The four amateur naturalists voyaged separately from Britain to the southern hemisphere in search of adventure and scientific fame. From Darwin’s inaugural trip on the Beagle in 1835 through Wallace’s exploits in the Amazon and, later, Malaysia in the 1840s and 1850s, each man independently made discoveries that led him to embrace Darwin’s groundbreaking theory of evolution. This book reveals the untold story of Darwin’s greatest supporters who, during his life, campaigned passionately in the war of ideas over evolution and who lived on to extend and advance the scope of his work.

McCalman also coedited a volume of papers, In the Wake of the Beagle: Science in the Southern Oceans from the Age of Darwin, based on a conference by the same name held at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney in March 2009:

Strange as it may seem, the long wake of the tiny HMS Beagle stretches from the nineteenth century into the future of our globe. Charles Darwin spent only three months in Australia, but Australasia and the Pacific contributed to his evolutionary thinking in a variety of ways. One hundred and fifty years after the publication of On the Origin of Species the internationally acclaimed authors of In the Wake of the Beagle provide new insights into the world of collecting, surveying and cross-cultural exchange in the antipodes in the age of Darwin. They explore the groundbreaking work of Darwin and his contemporaries Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley and Alfred Wallace, examine the complex trading relationships of the region’s daring voyagers, and take a very modern look at today’s cutting-edge scientific research, at a time when global warming has raised the stakes to an unprecedented level.

The film, Darwin’s Brave New World, is described as:

A 3 x 1hour drama-documentary TV series about how the Southern Hemisphere gave birth to the most controversial idea in science: evolution by means of natural selection. Interweaving dramatic reconstruction with documentary actuality and moving between the 19th century and the 21st, this series is the story of how Charles Darwin’s ‘dangerous idea’ developed during his epic voyage through South America, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and how that idea forever transformed society and science. A series to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’.

The film premieres at the University of British Columbia later this month, and airs on Australia’s ABC1 November 8th (ep. 1: Origins), 15th (ep. 2: Evolutions), and 22nd (ep. 3: Publish and Be Damned). An extended trailer:

Notice in the trailer a few historians or philosophers of science (Jim Moore, Michael Ruse, and Janet Browne), Richard Dawkins, and David Suzuki.

Recent & Forthcoming Darwin Books

Darwin’s Dogs: How Darwin’s Pets Helped Form a World-changing Theory of Evolution by Emma Townshend:

If you have ever looked at a dog waiting to go for a walk and thought there was something age-old and almost human about his sad expression, you’re not alone; Charles Darwin did exactly the same. But Darwin didn’t just stop at feeling that there was some connection between humans and dogs. English gentleman naturalist, great pioneer of the theory of evolution and incurable dog-lover, Darwin used his much-loved dogs as evidence in his continuing argument that all animals including human beings, descended from one common ancestor. From his fondly written letters home enquiring after the health of family pets to his profound scientific consideration of the ancestry of the domesticated dog, Emma Townshend looks at Darwin’s life and work from a uniquely canine perspective. 

Darwin’s Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (3rd ed.) by Gillian Beer:

Gillian Beer’s classic Darwin’s Plots, one of the most influential works of literary criticism and cultural history of the last quarter century, is here reissued in an updated edition to coincide with the anniversary of Darwin’s birth and of the publication of The Origin of Species. Its focus on how writers, including George Eliot, Charles Kingsley and Thomas Hardy, responded to Darwin’s discoveries and to his innovations in scientific language continues to open up new approaches to Darwin’s thought and to its effects in the culture of his contemporaries. This third edition includes an important new essay that investigates Darwin’s concern with consciousness across all forms of organic life. It demonstrates how this fascination persisted throughout his career and affected his methods and discoveries. With an updated bibliography reflecting recent work in the field, this book will retain its place at the heart of Victorian studies.

The Voyage of the “Beagle”: Journals and Remarks [ABRIDGED Audio CD] by Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins:

A definite precursor to “On The Origin of Species”, this non-fiction travel journal is a fascinating record of Darwin’s observations of far-flung civilisations and the flora, fauna and human life he found there. His journey took in: Santiago – Cape Verde Islands; Saint Peter and Paul Rocks; Rio de Janeiro; Maldonado; Rio Negro to Bahia Blanca; Bahia Blanca; Bahia Blanca to Buenos Aires; Buenos Aires and St. Fe; Banda Oriental and Patagonia; Santa Cruz, Patagonia, and The Falkland Islands; Tierra del Fuego; Strait of Magellan; Climate of the Southern Coasts; Central Chile; Chiloe Island and Chonos Islands; Concepcion: Great Earthquake; Passage of the Cordillera; Northern Chile and Peru Galapagos; Archipelago Tahiti and New Zealand; Australia; Keeling Island – Coral Formations; and Mauritius to England. Darwin spent much of the voyage exploring on-land rather than at sea, and his explorations led to the beginnings of ‘evolutionary’ theories. He observed, for example, how finches’ beaks varied and seemed localized in shape and form to particular islands or climates. Thus emerged the notion that a kind of ‘natural selection’ rather than a divine power may be responsible – each creature adapting physically to its particular environment over generations. This is an incredibly important and enlightening non-fiction work. 

Darwin in Scotland: Edinburgh, Evolution and Enlightenment by J.F. Derry:

This is the first book on Darwin and Darwinism that wholly concentrates on his time spent in Scotland and the key contributions to his future insights made by the Scottish Enlightenment and the University of Edinburgh. Darwin developed his theories because he attended Edinburgh University – although he participated little in formal tuition, it was through interaction with his tutors, peers and extracurricular groups that he was exposed to an ethos of naturalistic philosophy rooted in the Scottish Enlightenment and, by direct descent, the Ancient Greeks. If he had bypassed Scotland and gone straight to Cambridge, his education would have been theologically-based and unlikely to have given him the perspective that led him to question the prevailing doctrine. It is also the first book to explore the subsequent impact of his work on modern day biologists at the University of Edinburgh. How far have we moved on since Darwin made his discoveries? Are his theories still relevant to modern-day science? Can we say if they will be relevant in the future? And, what should we be teaching future generations? The relevance of Darwin in debate is as important and volatile now as when “The Origin of Species” was first published a century and a half ago. Science and religion seem to have reached an impasse. Intelligent Design, the conflicting view to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, is the new kid on the block that the science gang wants nothing to do with. All the major issues in evolutionary study are covered here, through interviews with scientists, educators and creationists. They include some of the world leaders in the biological sciences at Edinburgh University, and they are most revealing about what Darwin has meant to them and their work. 

The Darwins of Shrewsbury by Andrew Pattison:

Many people have written biographies of Charles Darwin, but the story of his family and roots in Shrewsbury is little known. This book, containing original research, fills that gap. The key player is Charles’ father, Dr Robert Darwin, a larger-than-life character whose financial acumen enabled Charles to spend his whole life on research unencumbered by money worries. Through Susannah, Charles’ mother, we are introduced to the Wedgwood family, whose history was so closely interwoven with the Darwins. The stories of Charles’ five siblings are detailed, and there is a wealth of local material, such as information on Shrewsbury School and its illustrious headmaster, Samuel Butler. The book is fully illustrated with contemporary and modern pictures, and will be of interest to anyone wanting to discover more about the development of Shrewsbury’s most famous son.

Darwin in the Archives: Papers on Charles Darwin from the Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History and Archives of Natural History, edited by Charles Nelson and Duncan M. Porter:

A Special Publication of the journal Archives of Natural History to coincide with the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth.

Philosophy After Darwin: Classic and Contemporary Readings by Michael Ruse

Charles Darwin: After the Origin by Sheila Ann Dean:

What did Charles Darwin do during the 22 years after the Origin of Species was published? “Charles Darwin: After the Origin,” a new book by Darwin scholar Sheila Ann Dean, answers that question and many others about the work Darwin undertook while controversies instigated by the Origin stirred the Victorian world. Published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the international Darwin Day celebration, the book serves as a companion piece to the to the collaborative 2009 exhibition at Cornell University Library and the Museum of the Earth at the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI). Dean is a guest curator and visiting scholar at the Library, and her book is published by Cornell University Library and PRI.

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation by Michael Keller and Nicholle Rager Fuller

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins:

In a brilliant follow-up to his blockbuster The God Delusion, Dawkins lays out the evidence for evolution. 

Darwin in Ilkley by Mike Dixon and Gregory Radick

Voyage Round the World: Charles Darwin and the Beagle Collections in Cambridge University by Alison M. Pearn

Darwin: Art and the Search for Origins:

2009 is a double jubilee for Charles Darwin (1809-1882). The world celebrates his 200th birthday and also the 150th anniversary of the first edition of his epoch-making title On the Origin of Species. This book revolutionized the knowledge of biology and led to hot debates between scientists around the world. The present work for the first time documents the influence of Darwinism to the fine arts. The famous Frankfurt museum Schirn presents 150 paintings, drawings and lithographs as well as rare and ex?ceptional documentations. The exhibition includes works by Frederic Church, Frantiek Kupka, Odilon Redon, George Frederic Watts, Arnold Bcklin, Max Ernst and many more thus covering a period from 1859 to the middle of the 20th century.

Darwin’s Notebook: The Life, Times, and Discoveries of Charles Robert Darwin by Jonathan Clements:

Darwin’s Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution by John Holmes:

Darwin’s Bards is the first comprehensive study of how poets have responded to the ideas of Charles Darwin in over fifty years. John Holmes argues that poetry can have a profound impact on how we think and feel about the Darwinian condition. Is a Darwinian universe necessarily a godless one? If not, what might Darwinism tell us about the nature of God? Is Darwinism compatible with immortality, and if not, how can we face our own deaths or the loss of those we love? What is our own place in the Darwinian universe, and our ecological role here on earth? How does our kinship with other animals affect how we see them? How does the fact that we are animals ourselves alter how we think about our own desires, love and sexual morality? All told, is life in a Darwinian universe grounds for celebration or despair? Holmes explores the ways in which some of the most perceptive and powerful British and American poets of the last hundred-and-fifty years have grappled with these questions, from Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning and Thomas Hardy, through Robert Frost and Edna St Vincent Millay, to Ted Hughes, Thom Gunn, Amy Clampitt and Edwin Morgan. Reading their poetry, we too can experience what it can mean to live in a Darwinian world. Written in an accessible and engaging style, and aimed at scientists, theologians, philosophers and ecologists as well as poets, critics and students of literature, Darwin’s Bards is a timely intervention into the heated debates over Darwin’s legacy for religion, ecology and the arts. 

In the Wake of the Beagle: Science in the Southern Oceans from the Age of Darwin, edited by Nigel Erskine and Iain McCalman:

This book shows the importance of the southern oceans to Darwin’s theories. Publication coincides with the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of publication of “On the Origin of Species”. This highly illustrated and beautifully designed full-colour book will examine Darwin (and his contemporaries) from a very modern perspective, linking their voyages with today’s scientific developments and debates about climate change, ecology and creationism. Strange as it may seem, the long wake of the tiny HMS Beagle stretches from the nineteenth century into the future of our globe. Charles Darwin spent only three months in Australia, but Australasia and the Pacific contributed to his evolutionary thinking in a variety of ways. One hundred and fifty years after the publication of “On the Origin of Species” the internationally acclaimed authors of “In the Wake of the Beagle” provide new insights into the world of collecting, surveying and cross-cultural exchange in the antipodes in the age of Darwin. They explore the groundbreaking work of Darwin and his contemporaries Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley and Alfred Wallace, examine the complex trading relationships of the region’s daring voyagers, and take a very modern look at today’s cutting-edge scientific research, at a time when global warming has raised the stakes to an unprecedented level.

The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution by Carl Zimmer:

The Tangled Bank is the first textbook about evolution intended for the general reader. Zimmer, an award-winning science writer, takes readers on a fascinating journey into the latest discoveries about evolution. In the Canadian Arctic, paleontologists unearth fossils documenting the move of our ancestors from sea to land. In the outback of Australia, a zoologist tracks some of the world’s deadliest snakes to decipher the 100-million-year evolution of venom molecules. In Africa, geneticists are gathering DNA to probe the origin of our species. In clear, non-technical language, Zimmer explains the central concepts essential for understanding new advances in evolution, including natural selection, genetic drift, and sexual selection. He demonstrates how vital evolution is to all branches of modern biology–from the fight against deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria to the analysis of the human genome. Richly illustrated with over 300 illustrations and photographs, The Tangled Bank is essential reading for anyone who wants understand the history of life on Earth.

Darwin’s Camera: Art and Photography in the Theory of Evolution by Philip Prodger:

Darwin’s Camera tells the extraordinary story of how Charles Darwin not only changed the course of science; he forever changed the way pictures are seen and made. In his illustrated masterpiece, Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1871), Darwin introduced the idea of using photographs to illustrate a scientific theory–his was the first photographically-illustrated science book ever published. Using photographs to depict fleeting expressions of emotion–laughter, crying, anger, and so on–as they flit across a person’s face, he managed to produce dramatic images at a time when photography was famously slow and awkward. The things he wanted to photograph changed too quickly to be photographed easily, and he struggled to get the pictures he needed. So he scoured the galleries, bookshops, and photographic studios of London, looking for pictures to satisfy his demand for expressive imagery. He finally settled on one the giants of photographic history, the eccentric art photographer Oscar Rejlander, to make his pictures. It was a peculiar choice. Darwin was known for his meticulous science, while Rejlander was notorious for altering and manipulating photographs. Their remarkable collaboration, and the lengths they went to to create the pictures Darwin needed, is one of the astonishing revelations in Darwin’s Camera. Darwin never studied art formally, but he was always interested in art and often drew on art knowledge as his work unfolded. He studied art as a student and befriended the artists on the voyage of HMS Beagle, he visited art museums to examine figures and animals in paintings, he made friends with artists, and read art history books. He befriended the celebrated animal painters Joseph Wolf and Briton Riviere, and accepted the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Thomas Woolner as a trusted guide. He corresponded with legendary photographers Lewis Caroll, Julia Margaret Cameron, and G.-B. Duchenne de Boulogne, as well as many lesser lights. Darwin’s Camera provides the first examination ever of these relationships and their effect on Darwin’s work, and how Darwin, in turn, shaped the history of art. 

The Darwin Experience: The Story of the Man and His Theory of Evolution by John van Wyhe

But Is It Science? The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy, Updated Edition, edited by Robert T. Pennock and Michael Ruse:

Updated Edition On December 20, 2005, a U.S. district court in Dover, Pennsylvania, ruled in Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School Board that teaching Intelligent Design in public school biology classes violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The judge explained that Intelligent Design is not science and “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.” This case was just the latest attempt by proponents of Intelligent Design or Creationism to undermine the teaching of evolution in high school biology classes. The emotionally charged controversy, which has been going on since the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, shows no sign of letting up. This excellent collection, now fully updated, will inform readers about the history of the debate and bring philosophical clarity to the complex arguments on both sides. The editors, both of whom served as expert witnesses in two different court cases, start by chronicling the heated discussion that surrounded the publication of Darwin’s famous work. In the next part, they present articles that explicate modern evolutionary theory, including philosophical critiques by Karl Popper and others. The selections that follow discuss so-called Creation Science, focusing in particular on the 1981 McLean court case in Arkansas. In the final section, the philosophical issues surrounding the distinction between religion and science in the most recent Kitzmiller case are considered. This outstanding overview of an important contemporary debate shows that philosophy has a vital role to play in major decisions affecting education and interpretations of science and religion. 

Charles Darwin’s Notebooks from the Voyage of the Beagle:

This is the first full edition of the notebooks used by Darwin during his epic voyage in the Beagle. It contains transcriptions of all fifteen notebooks, which now survive as some of the most precious documents in the history of science. The notebooks record the entire range of Darwin’s interests and activities during the Beagle journey, with observations on geology, zoology, botany, ecology, barometer and thermometer readings, ethnography, anthropology, archaeology and linguistics, along with maps, drawings, financial records, shopping lists, reading notes, essays and personal diary entries. Some of Darwin’s critical discoveries and experiences, made famous through his own publications, are recorded in their most immediate form in the notebooks, and published here for the first time. The notebook texts are accompanied by full editorial apparatus and introductions explaining Darwin’s actions at each stage, focussing on discoveries that were pivotal to convincing him that life on Earth had evolved.

Stephen Jay Gould and the Politics of Evolution by David F. Prindle:

Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould was, until his death in 2002, America’s best-known natural scientist. His monthly essays in Natural History magazine were widely read by both scientists and ordinary citizens with an interest in science. One of his books won the National Book Award, and another was a bestseller in three countries. Philosopher Daniel Dennett proclaimed him “America’s evolutionist laureate.” While many people have written about Gould’s science, pro and con, and a few have written about his politics, this is the first book to explore his science and politics as a consistent whole. Political scientist David F. Prindle argues that Gould’s mind worked along two tracks simultaneously –the scientific and the political. All of his concepts and arguments were bona fide contributions to science, but all of them also contained specifically political implications. As one example among many, Prindle cites Gould’s controversial argument that if the “tape of evolution” could be rewound and then allowed to unspool again, nothing resembling human beings would likely evolve. This was part of his larger thesis that people are not the result of a natural tendency toward perfection in evolution, but the result of chance, or as Gould put it, contingency. As Prindle notes, Gould s scientific ideas often sought to attack human hubris, and thus prepare the ground for the political argument that people should treat nature with more restraint. Prindle evaluates Gould’s concepts of punctuated equilibrium (developed with Niles Eldredge), “spandrels”, and “exaptation”; his stance on sociobiology, on human inequality and intelligence testing; his pivotal role in the culture wars between science and fundamentalist Christianity; and claims that he was a closet Marxist, which Prindle disputes. He continually emphasizes that in all these debates Gould’s science cannot be understood without an understanding of his politics. He concludes by considering whether Gould offered a new theory of evolution. Anyone with an interest in one of America’s great scientists, or in paleontology, evolutionary theory, or intellectual history will find Stephen Jay Gould and the Politics of Evolution to be a fascinating exploration of the man and his ideas. 

Defining Darwin: Essays on the History and Philosophy of Evolutionary Biology by Michael Ruse:

Michael Ruse is one of the foremost Charles Darwin scholars of our time. For forty years he has written extensively on Darwin, the scientific revolution that his work precipitated, and the nature and implications of evolutionary thinking for today. Now, in the year marking the two hundredth anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of his masterpiece, On the “Origin of Species”, Ruse re-evaluates the legacy of Darwin in this collection of new and recent essays. Beginning with pre-Darwinian concepts of organic origins proposed by the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant, Ruse shows the challenges that Darwin’s radically different idea faced. He then discusses natural selection as a powerful metaphor; Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution; Herbert Spencer’s contribution to evolutionary biology; the synthesis of Mendelian genetics and natural selection; the different views of Julian Huxley and George Gaylord Simpson on evolutionary ethics; and the influence of Darwin’s ideas on literature. In the final section, Ruse brings the discussion up to date with a consideration of ‘evolutionary development’ (dubbed ‘evo devo’) as a new evolutionary paradigm and the effects of Darwin on religion, especially the debate surrounding Intelligent Design theory. Ruse offers a fresh perspective on topics old and new, challenging the reader to think again about the nature and consequences of what has been described as the biggest idea ever conceived.

Darwin and the Memory of the Human: Evolution, Savages, and South America by Cannon Schmitt:

When the young Charles Darwin landed on the shores of Tierra del Fuego in 1832, he was overwhelmed: nothing had prepared him for the sight of what he called ‘an untamed savage’. The shock he felt, repeatedly recalled in later years, definitively shaped his theory of evolution. In this original and wide-ranging study, Cannon Schmitt shows how Darwin and other Victorian naturalists transformed such encounters with South America and its indigenous peoples into influential accounts of biological and historical change. Redefining what it means to be human, they argue that the modern self must be understood in relation to a variety of pasts – personal, historical, and ancestral – conceived of as savage. Schmitt reshapes our understanding of Victorian imperialism, revisits the implications of Darwinian theory, and demonstrates the pertinence of nineteenth-century biological thought to current theorizations of memory.

Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails) by Matt Young and Paul K. Strode:

Focusing on what other books omit, how science works and how pseudoscience works, Matt Young and Paul K. Strode demonstrate the futility of “scientific” creationism. They debunk the notion of intelligent design and other arguments that show evolution could not have produced life in its present form. Concluding with a frank discussion of science and religion, Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails) argues that science by no means excludes religion, though it ought to cast doubt on certain religious claims that are contrary to known scientific fact. 

The Art of Evolution: Darwin, Darwinisms, and Visual Culture, edited by Barbara Larson and Fae Brauer:

Inspired by the Charles Darwin bicentennial, The Art of Evolution presents a collection of essays by international scholars renowned for their ground-breaking work on Darwin. The book not only includes a discussion of the popular imagery that immediately followed the publication of On the Origin of Species, but it also traces the impact of Darwin’s ideas on visual culture over time and throughout the Western world. The contributors analyze the visual expression of a broad range of Darwin-inspired subjects, including eugenics, aesthetics and sexual selection, monera and protoplasm theories, social Darwinism and colonialism, the Taylorized body, and the natural history of surrealism. The visual imagery responding to Darwin and Darwinism ranges from popular caricature to state propaganda to major trends within Modern Art and Modernism. This rarely addressed subject will enrich our understanding of Darwin’s impact across disciplines and reveal how transformations in science were manifested visually in so many enticingly unexpected ways.

Charles Darwin, the Copley Medal, and the Rise of Naturalism 1862-1864 by Marsha Driscoll et al.:

Part of the “Reacting to the Past” series, this text consists of a game in which students experience firsthand the tension between natural and teleological views of the world–manifested especially in reconsideration of the design argument commonly known through William Paley’s Natural Theology or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity (1802).

“HMS Beagle in the Galápagos” by John Chancellor. © Dr Gordon Chancellor and reproduced with his kind permission.

“HMS Beagle in the Galápagos” by John Chancellor. © Dr Gordon Chancellor and reproduced with his kind permission.

About the painting see p. 49-60 of this special issue of the Linnean, “Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Darwin-Wallace theory of evolution” (3.7Mb PDF):

BBC’S In Our Time: The Beagle, the Mockingbird and the Megatherium

As mentioned here, BBC – Radio 4 will have several shows about Charles Darwin. In Our Time, hosted by Melvyn Bragg, continues with a 4-part series with “The Beagle, the Mockingbird and the Megatherium”:

Part 2 of 4 charts Darwin’s round the world voyage on the Beagle and the objects and the ideas he bought back.

In Our Time’s website is here, and a direct link to the mp3 here.

Today in Science History, notable botanists and entomologists died…

From Today in Science History:

Adolf Engler (Died 10 Oct 1930; born 25 Mar 1844). (Gustav Heinrich) Adolf Engler was a German botanist famous for his system of plant classification and for his expertise as a plant geographer. He emphasized the importance of geological history in the study of plant geography, and worked out an influential system of plant classification. He wrote several works on plant geography and taxonomy, and collaborated with Karl Prantl on the early volumes of Die natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien (32 vol. in 17, 1887–1909) and edited the early volumes of Das Pflanzenreich. The Engler and Prantl system of flowering plant classification was the principal one in use until the 1970s.

Sir Ferdinand von Mueller (Died 10 Oct 1896; born 30 Jun 1825). German-born Australian botanist and explorer. He migrated to Australia in 1848 for health reasons, and there became the country’s greatest 19th-century scientist. Mueller gained an international reputation as a great botanical collector and writer. His contributions covered a wide field of sciences such as geography, pharmacy, horticulture, agriculture, forestry, paleontology, and zoology. His activity as a botanist is shown by hundreds of Australian plant names which are followed by ‘F. Muell’. From 1853, he held the post as the first Government Botanist of Victoria until his death, 43 years later. He travelled widely throughout the colonies on botanical exploration, including as naturalist to the Gregory expedition to northern Australia (1855-57).

Thomas Say (Died 10 Oct 1834; born 27 Jun 1787). American self-taught naturalist often considered to be the founder of descriptive entomology in the United States. His taxonomic work was quickly recognized by European zoologists. Say was a founding member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. He was chief zoologist of Major Stephen Long’s exploring expedition to the tributaries of the Missouri River in 1819 and in 1823 for the expedition to the headwaters of the Mississippi. During the 1819 expedition, Say first described the coyote, swift fox, western kingbird, band-tailed pigeon, Say’s phoebe, rock wren, lesser goldfinch, lark sparrow, lazuli bunting, and orange-crowned warbler. His important work, American Entomology, remains a classic. He also wrote on paleontology and conchology.

Pierre Lyonnet (Died 10 Oct 1789; born 22 Jul 1708). Dutch naturalist and engraver who skillfully dissected insects and made detailed illustrations of their anatomy. He also had a career as an official codebreaker. In 1738 he entered the service of the States General as an administrator of secret expenses and as a code-clerk. In his leisure he turned to natural history. He believed that nature was a cipher that could be interpreted by tracing every detail of its perfect design. He designed a simple microscope which had each lens suspended at the end of a series of ball and socket joints over a small mahogony dissecting table mounted on a post above a wooden base with small drawers containing his instruments. After preparing engravings for several books written by others, he produced his own treatises.

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Carl Erich Correns (Born 19 Sep 1864; died 14 Feb 1933). German botanist and geneticist who in 1900, independent of, but simultaneously with, the biologists Erich Tschermak von Seysenegg and Hugo de Vries, rediscovered Gregor Mendel’s historic paper outlining the principles of heredity. In attempting to ascertain the extent to which Mendel’s laws are valid, he undertook a classic study of non-Mendelian heredity in variegated plants, such as the four-o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa) which he established (1909) as the first conclusive example of extrachromosomal, or cytoplasmic, inheritance (cases in which certain characteristics of the progeny are determined by factors in the cytoplasm of the female sex cell).

Florentino Ameghino (Born 19 Sep 1853; died 6 Aug 1911). Argentine paleontologist and anthropologist who made significant contributions to the field of vertebrate paleontology and established the Pampas region of Argentina as a rich source of fossils. He discovered over 6,000 fossil species and classified 35 suborders of mammals. Ameghino’s controversial discoveries of stone implements, carved bones, and other signs of a human presence in Argentina during the Pliocene, Miocene, and earlier periods served to increase his worldwide fame.

David Starr Jordan (Died 19 Sep 1931; born 19 Jan 1851). American naturalist, educator, and the foremost American ichthyologist of his time. Jordan was a renowned expert in many fields. For example, he served as an expert witness on the validity of the theory of evolution at the Scopes trial in Tennessee. He was known for his work in education, philosophy, and as a peace activist. He often approached the subject of peace from a biological angle, arguing that war was detrimental to the health of the species because it removed the strongest individuals from the gene pool. Although he campaigned vigorously against US involvement in World War I, once war was declared, he advocated aggressive measures to end the conflict quickly.

Francis Darwin (Died 19 Sep 1925; born 16 Aug 1849). English botanist who was the third son of Charles Darwin, and published the results of his collaboration with his father in the publication of The Movement of Plants (1880).

Georg August Schweinfurth (Died 19 Sep 1925; born 29 Dec 1836). German botanist who travelled in the interior of East Africa (from 1868) and studied the inhabitants together with the flora and fauna of the region. During this journey, in Mar 1870, he discovered the River Welle (Uele), explored the upper Nile basin, and charted the western feeders of the White Nile. He wrote about the cannibalistic practices of the Mangbettu, and his discovery of the pygmy Akka confirmed the existence of dwarf races in tropical Africa (The Heart of Africa, 1873). During 1875-88, he lived in Cairo, where he founded the Royal Geographical Society of Egypt. He made historical, geological, ethnographical and botanical investigations ranging from there to the Arabian desert.

Giacomo Doria (Died 19 Sep 1913; born 1 Nov 1840). Italian naturalist and explorer who conducted important research in systematic zoology. Pursuing his work, he made expeditions to Persia (1862), Borneo (1865-66) and Tunisia (1879). In 1867, he founded the civic museum of natural history in Genoa. The collection he donated became the nucleus of the museum, which he directed for more than 40 years. He was also director of Societa Geografica Italiana (1891-1900). The museum he founded now contains important zoolological, paleontological, botanical, and mineralogical collections from all over the world. These collections are continually growing, now estimated to be more than 3.5 million exhibits.

Olof Swartz (Died 19 Sep 1818: born 21 Sep 1760). Swedish botanist who left a legacy of a collection of plants from his botanical tours of the West Indies, Jamaica, North America, Puerto Rico, Haiti and Cuba between 1783-87. On his return, he described nearly 900 species, most of them new, in Flora Indiae occidentalis (3 vols., 1797-1806). The Swedish Museum of Natural History now holds the collection, about 6000 specimens of phanerogams and ferns, mostly from the West Indies. It is a part of their Regnellian herbarium. He is also noted for his taxonomic studies of specific plant groups, including orchids, mosses and especially ferns. He also published Nova Genera et Species Plantarum seu Prodromus (1788) and Observationes botanicae (1791).

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Sir John Graham Kerr (Born 18 Sep 1869; died 21 Apr 1957). English embryologist whose research advanced knowledge of the evolution of vertebrates. He also promoted ideas in naval camouflage for WWI. Early in his career, pursuing his zoological interests, Kerr went on two expeditions to the Pilcomayo River in South America. Much of his subsequent research was based on samples collected during these expeditions. In a letter to Winston Churchill, dated 24 Sep 1914, he referred to observing animal camouflage in South America, and recommended painting war ships with graduated shading. He also communicated with Ernest Bevin and Clement Atlee and others concerning camouflage. Although sometimes credited with invention of the dazzle scheme of camouflage, his ideas were less extreme.

Constantine Samuel Rafinesque (Died 18 Sep 1840; born 22 Oct 1783). Naturalist, traveler, and writer who made major and controversial contributions to botany and ichthyology. Rafinesque believed that each variety of a species is a “deviant,” which, through reproduction, may become a permanent species; thus, he anticipated, to some extent, part of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Although Rafinesque’s scientific abilities were recognized in his lifetime, he was also severely criticized for sometimes doing careless work and for his tendency to establish new genera and species. Throughout his life he traveled extensively, collected specimens wherever he went, and wrote and published constantly.

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John Gould (Born 14 Sep 1804; died 3 Feb 1881). English ornithologist whose life work produced 41 lavishly illustrated volumes on birds from all over the world, containing in all about 3,000 plates, all lithographed and hand-painted. Of these, his Birds of Australia was particularly significant (1840-69) as the first comprehensive record of the continent’s birds and mammals. With its plates of the birds were descriptions, notes on their distribution and adaptation to the environment. He assisted Charles Darwin with identification of the specimens collected during the voyage of the Beagle. By informing Darwin that the finches belonging to separate species, he provided essential information giving Darwin insight leading to his later development of the theory of evolution.

Alexander von Humboldt (Born 14 Sep 1769; died 6 May 1859). (Baron) Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt was a German natural scientist, archeologist, explorer and geographer, who made two major expeditions to Latin America (1799-1804) and to Asia (1829). During the first, equipped with the best scientific instruments, he surveyed and collected geological, zoological, botanical, and ethnographic specimens, including over 60,000 rare or new tropical plants. He charted and made observations on a cold ocean current along the Peruvian coast, now named, the Humboldt Current. In geology, he made pioneering observations of stratigraphy, structure and geomorphology; he understood the connections between volcanism and earthquakes. Humboldt named the Jurassic System.

Charles Valentine Riley (Died 14 Sep 1895; born 18 Sep 1843). British-born American entomologist who pioneered the scientific study of insects for their economic impact in agriculture. He was a keen observer of relationships in nature, and enhanced his written observations with drawings. He initiated biological control. After studying the parasites and predators of the cottony cushion scale, which was destroying the citrus industry in California, he introduced (1888) a natural enemy of the scale from Australia. The effectiveness of the Vedalia cardinalis beetle in reducing the populations of the cottony cushion scale promoted the study of biological control of pests. He helped establish the Division of Entomology of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Stephen Jay Gould (Born 10 Sep 1941; died 20 May 2002). American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and science writer who grew up in New York City. He graduated from Antioch College and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1967. Since then he has been Professor of Geology and Zoology at Harvard University. He consider[ed] himself primarily a palaeontologist and an evolutionary biologist, though he teaches geology and the history of science as well. A frequent and popular speaker on the sciences, his published work includes both scholarly study and many prize-winning popular collections of essays.

Lilian Gibbs (Born 10 Sep 1870; died 30 Jan 1925). Lilian Suzette Gibbs was an independent English botanist who organized botanical expeditions to some of the most remote places on Earth. After her education at Swanley Horticultural College and in botany at the Royal College of Science, she made a botanical trip to Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1905, followed by expeditions in 1907 to Fiji and New Zealand, Queensland and Tasmania. In 1910, she became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Kinabulu in Borneo. She contributed over 1,000 botanical specimens from that trip to the British Museum. Bambusa gibbsiae (Miss Gibbs’s bamboo) was named for her. In 1912 she made a botanical trip to Iceland, and in 1913, to the East Indies and Dutch New Guinea.

John Needham (Born 10 Sep 1713; died 30 Dec 1781). John Turberville Needham was an English naturalist and Roman Catholic priest. He experimented, with Buffon, on the idea of spontaneous generation of life. After boiling mutton broth and sealing it in glass containers which were stored for a few days, then reopened, he found numerous microorganisms therein. His conclusion was that the organisms had arisen from non-living matter. (However, two decades later, Spallanzani indicated this was invalid since some spores could still survive the short period of boiling temperature Needham used.) He was the first clergyman of his faith to become a member of the Royal Society of London (1768).

George Bentham (Died 10 Sep 1844; born 22 Sep 1800). British botanist whose classification of seed plants (Spermatophyta), based on an exhaustive study of all known species, served as a foundation for modern systems of vascular plant taxonomy. Sir William Hooker, invited him to establish permanent quarters at Kew gardens, where Bentham participated in the Gardens’ definitive survey of floras of the British colonies and possessions, for which he prepared the Flora Hongkongensis (1861) and the Flora Australiensis (7 vol., 1863-78), cataloging and describing more than 7,000 species. Collaborating with Hooker’s son Sir Joseph, Bentham spent 27 years in research and examination of specimens for the work Genera Plantarum (3 vol., 1862-83), which covered 200 “orders” of 7,569 genera, and 97,200 species.

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Elliott Coues (Born 9 Sep 1842; died 25 Dec 1899). American army surgeon and ornithologist whose Key to North American Birds (1872) was the first work of its kind to present a taxonomic classification of birds according to an artificial key and promoted the systematic study of North American [birds]. Beginning the U.S. army as a medical cadet during the Civil War (1862), he became an assistant surgeon (1864-81). His interest in the study of birds began while a boy. He met many naturalists at the Smithsonian Institution and published his first technical paper at age 19. As his army assignments took him to various locations throughout the West, he continued studying the bird life in each new area, and found new species. He also did valuable work in mammalogy and wrote a book, Fur-Bearing Animals (1877).

Joseph Leidy (Born 9 Sep 1823; died 30 Apr 1891). American zoologist, who made significant contributions in a remarkably wide range of earth and natural science disciplines, including comparative anatomy, parasitology, and paleontology. As the Father of American Vert[e]brate Paleontology, he described not only the first relatively complete dinosaur skeleton, but the diversity of fossil finds in the American West. His knowledge of comparative anatomy enabled him to make sense of even fragmentary fossil remains. He was also a competant microscopist, scientific illustrator, and published papers in human biology and medicine. His microscopic examination of parasite cysts in cooked ham and microorganisms in housefly mouthparts enabled him to improve public heath.

William Lonsdale (Born 9 Sep 1794; died 11 Nov 1871). English geologist and paleontologist whose study of coral fossils found in Devon, suggested (1837) certain of them were intermediate between those typical of the older Silurian System (408 to 438 million years old) and those of the later Carboniferous System (286 to 360 million years old). Geologists Roderick Murchison and Adam Sedgwick agreed. They named (1839) this new geologic system after its locale – the Devonian System. Lonsdale’s early career was as an army officer (1812-15) and later he became curator and librarian of the Geological Society of London (1829-42). He recognised that fossils showed how species changed over time, and more primitive organisms are found in lower strata. Darwin used this to support his evolution theory.

Andreas Franz Wilhelm Schimper (Died 9 Sep 1901; born 12 May 1856). German botanist whose Pflanzentogeographie (1898) was one of the first and finest mapping of the floral regions of the continents. He coined (1885) the term chloroplasts (the organelles in plant cells that conduct photosynthesis), and distinguished them from chromatophores (pigment-containing cells found in many marine animals). In 1880, he proved that starch is the source of stored energy for plants. His explorations included Florida, the West Indies, South America, and Indonesia. On the Valdivia expedition (1898) he studied the oceanic plankton of numerous oceanic islands and coastal Africa. His father, Wilhelm Philipp Schimper was an expert on mosses and whose cousin Karl Friedrich Schimper studied plant morphology.

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Loren Eiseley (Born 3 Sep 1907; died 9 Jul 1977. Loren (Corey) Eiseley was a U.S. anthropologist, educator, and was one of the preeminent literary naturalists of our time. He wrote for the lay person in eloquent, poetic style about anthropology, the history of the civilatization and our relationship with the natural world. Scientific American published Loren Eisleys’ first popular essay, The Folsum Mystery (1942). Eiseley’s best-known book, The Immense Journey, combines science and humanism in a collection of essays, many with origins to his own early Nebraska experiences. Eiseley became known internationally, winning major prizes and honorary degrees for his unique work.

Abraham Trembley (Born 3 Sep 1710; died 12 May 1784). Swiss naturalist, is best known for his studies of the freshwater hydra, mainly Chlorohydra viridissima. He discovered the freshwater hydra in 1740. His extensive systematic experiments foreshadowed modern research on tissue regeneration and grafting. In 1744, Trembley published that he found that a complete hydra would be regenerated from as little as 1/8th of the parent body. He also succeeded in turning these animals inside out, a remarkably delicate operation which he performed by threading them on horse hairs. Trembley showed that the hydras would survive even this drastic operation. A thorough researcher, Trembley studied three species of hydra and published his findings in 1744.

Joseph de Jussieu (Born 3 Sep 1704; died 11 Apr 1779). French botanist who went with French physicist Charles-Marie de la Condamine’s expedition to Peru to measure an arc of meridian (1735). Therafter, he remained in South America for 35 years, supporting himself chiefly by the practice of medicine. By sending the seed to his brother Bernard, he introduced the common garden heliotrope (Heliotropium peruvianum) into Europe. His extended and arduous explorations in Peru took place mainly in the years 1747-50. The botanical results of these journeys were large, but the greater part of his manuscripts and collections was lost. He returned to Paris in 1771, in poor health. His brothers Antoine and Bernard were also notable botanists.

Barbara McClintock (Died 3 Sep 1992; born 16 Jun 1902). American scientist regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of genetics. In the 1940s and 1950s McClintock’s work on the cytogenetics of maize led her to theorize that genes are transposable – they can move around – on and between chromosomes. McClintock drew this inference by observing changing patterns of coloration in maize kernels over generations of controlled crosses. The idea that genes could move did not seem to fit with what was then known about genes, but improved molecular techniques of the late 1970s and early 1980s allowed other scientists to confirm her discovery. She was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the first American woman to win an unshared Nobel Prize.

Martin Heinrich Rathke (Died 3 Sep 1860; born 25 Aug 1793). German physiologist and pathologist who was one of the founders of modern embryology. He was the first to describe the embryonic precursors of gill slits and gill arches in the embryos of higher animals – mammals and birds – which have none when fully grown. Rathke compared the development of the air sacs in birds and the larynx in birds and mammals. In 1839, he traced the origin of the anterior pituitary gland from a depression in the roof of the mouth, which embryonic structure is now known as Rathke’s pouch. Rathke also did pioneering work in marine zoology, as being first to describe lancet fish.

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Darwin wishes to be Beagle naturalist In 1831, Charles Darwin replied to the letter from Revd. Henslow telling him of the offer to sail on the H.M.S. Beagle. Darwin’s had learned natural history from Henslow, who had recommended him for the unpaid position as a naturalist. Darwin told Henslow that his father would not permit him to leave on such a the voyage. Meanwhile, his father had written to his brother-in-law, Josiah Wedgwood II, about his concerns regarding the proposed two-year jaunt. This afternoon Darwin prepared to join the Wedgwoods for the next day’s beginning of the shooting season by riding to Maer Hall, the Wedgwood home. The Darwin family was related to the Wedgwood family through the marriage of Darwin’s father to the daughter of the first Josiah Wedgwood, the famous potter.

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Richard Darwin Keynes (Born 14 Aug 1919). British physiologist who did pioneering work on the mechanisms underlying the conduction of the action potential along nerve fibres. Early in his career, he worked with the giant nerve fibers of squid, which would help discover how nerve impulses are transmitted in all animals. In later resarch, he determined how electric eels project electric fields outside their bodies. Keynes was the first to use radioactive sodium and potassium tracer atoms to follow the movements of these atoms when an impulse is transmitted along a nerve fibre. He has written extensively about the life and work of his great-grandfather, Charles Darwin, beginning with The Beagle Record (1979).

Paul Bartsch (Born 14 Aug 1871; died 24 Apr 1960). German-American zoologist who was an authority on molluscs, but had broad interests in natural history including plants and birds. He began his career as assistant curator of marine invertebrates at the US National Museum, Washington, DC., but then worked until retirement for the Smithsonian Institution (1896-1942). He represented that organisation on numerous zoological expeditions. In 1902, he initiated a systematic, scientific bird banding program (credited as the first in North America since John James Audubon) by banding 23 Black-crowned Night-herons at Washington, DC. During WW I, he invented a gas detector for the Chemical Warfare Service in 1918. Bartsch organized the first Boy Scout troop in Washington.

Ernest Thompson Seton (Born 14 Aug 1860; died 23 Oct 1946). Anglo-American naturalist, writer and illustrator who applied these skills in over forty books on wild life, woodcraft, Indian lore and animal-fiction stories. As a capable naturalist, in his field observations he made detailed studies of morphology, physiology, distribution, and behaviour. His fame as author began with Wild Animals I Have Known (1898) – still in print a century later. Over a period of twenty years he delivered over three thousand lectures. Believing in promoting the values of ethology and ecology, he was chairman of the committee that established the Boy Scouts in the U.S. (1910). Seton envisioned the North American Indian as a model for the movement, but Baden-Powell’s military structure was adopted as in Britain.

Frederic Ward Putnam (Died 14 Aug 1915; born 16 Apr 1839). American archeologist, naturalist and museum administrator who played a major role in the popularization of anthropology, its acceptance as a university study, and instigated more anthropological museums. After entering Harvard College as a student (1856), he was much influenced by Louis Agassiz. As Curator of the Peabody Museum (1875-1909), Putnam organized numerous pioneering expeditions in Southwest and Central American archeology. As director of the anthropological section of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago (1891-93), he mounted an impressive exhibit. It created wide-spread interest in anthropology, and subsequently became the nucleus of the great collections of the Field Museum in Chicago.

Richard Jefferies (Died 14 Aug 1887; born 6 Nov 1848). (John) Richard Jefferies, born near Swindon was a naturalist, novelist, and essayist. He began his literary career as a local reporter in Wiltshire, and from then on he wrote many works of natural history and country life, and essays in journals and magazines. Jefferies relied greatly on ‘field notebooks’, where he entered his meticulous observations on the life of the countryside. Wild Life in a Southern Country, in which the author, sitting on a Wiltshire down, observes in ever widening circles the fields, woods, animals, and human inhabitants below him, was published with success in 1879. He wrote his autobiography, Story of My Heart (1883). His vision was unappreciated in his own Victorian age but has been increasingly recognized and admired since his death.

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Ernst Haeckel (Died 9 Aug 1919, Born 16 Feb 1834). German biologist who separated the animal kingdom into unicellar and multicellular organisms, and was an enthusiastic supporter of Darwin‘s theories. He led numerous scientific expeditions, and cataloged 4,000 new species of lower marine animals. However, he held an erroneous concept, popularized an expression, “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” (meaning that he supposed any animal embryo progresses through all previous evolutionary stages as it develops) which he based on the striking resemblance of the early embryos of many early vertibrate embryos. Such interpretation may not have lasted, but he nevertheless stimulated enquiry. He coined many words used by biologists today, such as ecology, phylum and phylogeny.

Playing Chess with Pigeons: Darwin’s embryo drawings flawed? (on Haeckel’s embryos)

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William Beebe (Born 29 July 1877; died 4 June 1962). (Charles) William Beebe was an American biologist, explorer, and writer on natural history who combined careful biological research with a rare literary skill. As director of tropical research for the New York Zoological Society from 1919, he led scientific expeditions to many parts of the world. He was the coinventor of the bathysphere, a spherical diving-vessel for use in underwater observations. In 1934, with Otis Barton, he descended in his bathysphere to a then record depth of 3,028 feet (923 metres) in Bermuda waters on 15 Aug 1934. Later dives reached depths of around 1.5 km (nearly 1 mile).

Charles-Lucien Bonaparte (Died 29 July 1857; born 24 May 1803). (Prince) French zoologist who was a nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte. From 1822 to 1828, he was in the United States, where he wrote four volumes of American Ornithology (1825-33) adding to the body of work left unfinished by Alexander Wilson at his death. Bonaparte’s scientific reputation was established by these volumes, with which he had the assistance of the artist Titian Peale, who found and painted birds for him from the Rocky Mountains and Florida. In 1848-49, Bonaparte’s scientific career experienced a brief hiatus when he took part in the political agitation for Italian independence against the Austrians and he was forced to leave Italy in July 1849. He went to Holland and then to France.

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Henry David Thoreau (Born 12 July 1817; died 6 May 1862). Thoreau, an American born in Concord, Mass., was an author, philosopher, poet and naturalist. He was a pacifist who always had Ralph Waldo Emerson around to bail him out of trouble. Thoreau was known as the “Hermit of Walden” because he lived in the woods around Walden pond for several years.As Henry got older, his attentions turned more towards the observing and recording of natural history in Concord. Henry kept thorough journals of natural history and the citizens of Concord regarded him as the town naturalist. Many scholars consider Henry David Thoreau to be the father of the American conservation movements.

Claude Bernard (Born 12 July 1813; died 10 Feb 1878). French physiologist (born near Villefranche) known chiefly for his discoveries concerning the role of the pancreas in digestion, the glycogenic function of the liver, and the regulation of the blood supply by the vasomotor nerves. On a broader stage, Bernard played a role in establishing the principles of experimentation in the life sciences. His Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865) is a scientific classic.

Ynes Mexia (Died 12 July 1938; born 24 May 1870). Ynes Enriquetta Julietta Mexia was an American botanical collector, who developed her passion for botany and fieldwork in her 50’s, and yet was able to make about 150,000 collections in 12 years on seven expeditions. She was aged 55 when she made her first collecting trip. She accompanied Stanford’s Assistant Herbarium Curator, Roxanna Ferris, in Mexico. Her activity was remarkable, as she spent several years exploring for specimens in remote reaches of Central and South Americas. At age 59, she began a 2-1/2 year expedition in Peru and Brazil which included a three-month period trapped by floods with her team in a 600-m deep gorge which they escaped eventually by building a raft and running the river and its rapids.

David Douglas (Died 12 July 1834; born 25 Jun 1799). Scottish botanist who was one of the most successful of the great 19th century plant collectors. He established about 240 species of plants in Britain. His first foreign plant-hunting expedition (1824) was made throughout the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. The Douglas fir, which he cultivated from 1827, is named after him. He introduced other conifers including the Sitka spruce, now commercially important to the timber industry, and numerous garden plants and shrubs, including the lupin, California poppy and the flowering currant. At age 35, he died in by accident in Hawaii, when he fell into a pit dug by the islanders to trap wild cattle where he was trapped with a bull that also fell into the pit. He was gored to death by the bull.

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Ernst Mayr (Born 5 Jul 1904; died 3 Feb 2005). German-born American biologist known for his work in avian taxonomy, population genetics, and evolution. In 1928, he led the first of three expeditions to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands where he studied the effects of geographic distribution among various animal species. He led development of the modern synthetic theory of evolution (the interplay of gene mutation and recombination, changes in structure and function of chromosomes, reproductive isolation and natural selection). In 1940, he proposed a definition of species that became accepted in scientific circles. He began bird watching as a young boy, and by the age of ten, he could recognize all of the local bird species by call as well as sight.

[ “Darwin’s Influence on Modern Thought” by Ernst Mayr, and his books here, Johnson, Kristin. “Ernst Mayer, Karl Jordan, and the History of Systematics,” History of Science 43 (2005): 1-35, Haffer, Jurgen and Franz Bairlein, “Ernst Mayr – ‘Darwin of the 20th century’,” Journal of Ornithology 145 (2004): 161-162, and Haffer, Jurgen. Ornithology, Evolution, and Philosophy: The Life and Science of Ernst Mayr 1904-2005 (Springer, 2007)]

Robert Fitzroy (Born 5 Jul 1805; died 30 Apr 1865) British naval officer, hydrographer, and meteorologist who commanded the voyage of HMS Beagle, aboard which Charles Darwin sailed around the world as the ship’s naturalist. That voyage provided Darwin with much of the material on which he based his theory of evolution. Fitzroy retired from active duty in 1850 and from 1854 devoted himself to meteorology. He devised a storm warning system that was the prototype of the daily weather forecast, invented a barometer, and published The Weather Book (1863). His death was by suicide, during a bout of depression.

A Fitzroy podcast from the Royal Society.

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Sir Ferdinand von Mueller (Born 30 Jun 1825; died 10 Oct 1896). German-born Australian botanist and explorer. He migrated to Australia in 1848 for health reasons, and there became the country’s greatest 19th-century scientist. Mueller gained an international reputation as a great botanical collector and writer. His contributions covered a wide field of sciences such as geography, pharmacy, horticulture, agriculture, forestry, paleontology, and zoology. His activity as a botanist is shown by hundreds of Australian plant names which are followed by ‘F. Muell’. From 1853, he held the post as the first Government Botanist of Victoria until his death, 43 years later. He travelled widely throughout the colonies on botanical exploration, including as naturalist to the Gregory expedition to northern Australia (1855-57).

Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (Born 30 Jun 1817; died 10 Dec 1911). English botanist who was assistant on Sir James Ross’s Antarctic expedition and whose botanical travels to foreign lands included India, Palestine and the U.S., from which he became a leading taxonomists in his time. His Student’s Flora of the British Islands became a standard text. He was a great friend of Charles Darwin, and they collaborated in research. With Charles Lyell, Hooker encouraged the publication of Darwin’s theory of evolution. He served (1855-65) as assistant director to his father, Sir William Jackson Hooker, of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, whom he succeeded as director for another 20 years. He was also a president of the Royal Society. At age 94, he died in his sleep and was buried at Kew.

See Jim Endersy’s website on J.D. Hooker, and his new book, Imperial Nature: Joseph Hooker and the Practices of Victorian Science. Also, my post on Hooker from March 2008, and today’s post from Mystery of Mysteries.

Abraham Werner (Died 30 Jun 1817; born 25 Sep 1750). Abraham Gottlob Werner was a German geologist who founded the Neptunist school, holding that all rocks have aqueous origins. This contrasts with the Plutonists, or Vulcanists, who maintain that granite among other rocks were of igneous origin. Werner also rejected the idea of uniformitarianism whereby geological evolution has been a uniform and continuous process.

And on this day in 1860, Bishop Samuel Wilberforce and Thomas Henry Huxley squared off in a debate. Prof. Olsen has more, but also read Did Huxley really mop the floor with Wilberforce? from Brian at Laelaps.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Frank Rattray Lillie (Born 27 Jun 1870; died 5 Nov 1947). American zoologist and embryologist, known for his discoveries concerning the fertilization of the egg (ovum) and the role of hormones in sex determination. In 1914, Lillie hypothesized the existence of a substance, fertilizin, in the jelly coat of eggs which causes sperm cells to clump together. In 1916, he demonstrated the role of sex hormones in freemartinism. His embryological investigations reached into all aspects of cellular and embryonic development. He is best known for his dedicated efforts in shaping the Marine Biological Laboratory and the Oceanographic Institute at Woods Hole, Mass. He wrote The Development of the Chick (1908), a leading embryology text, and The Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (1944).

Thomas Say (Born 27 Jun 1787; died 10 Oct 1834). American self-taught naturalist often considered to be the founder of descriptive entomology in the United States. His taxonomic work was quickly recognized by European zoologists. Say was a founding member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. He was chief zoologist of Major Stephen Long’s exploring expedition to the tributaries of the Missouri River in 1819 and in 1823 for the expedition to the headwaters of the Mississippi. During the 1819 expedition, Say first described the coyote, swift fox, western kingbird, band-tailed pigeon, Say’s phoebe, rock wren, lesser goldfinch, lark sparrow, lazuli bunting, and orange-crowned warbler. His important work, American Entomology, remains a classic. He also wrote on paleontology and conchology.

Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz (Died 27 Jun 1907; born 5 Dec 1822). (née Cary) U.S. naturalist and educator who was the first president of Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Mass. She married the Swiss naturalist, Louis Agassiz, in 1850. They traveled together on scientific expeditions, and founded the Anderson school of Natural History, a Marine laboratory, located on Penikese Island in Buzzard’s Bay, Mass. When her husband died in1873, Elizabeth became interested in the idea of college for women to be taught by the “Harvard Annex” in Cambridge. In 1894 the Annex became Radcliffe College. She served as president until 1899, then honorary president until 1903. Her books include A First Lesson in Natural History (1859), and A Journey in Brazil (1867).

James Smithson (Died 27 Jun 1829; born 1765). English scientist who provided funds in his will for the founding of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” He had inherited his fortune chiefly through his mother’s family. He was a chemist and minerologist who published 27 scientific papers. The mineral smithsonite (carbonate of zinc) was named for him.