ARTICLE: The letters between James Lamont and Charles Darwin on Arctic fauna

A 2015 article from Polar Record might be of interest to some readers, espeically since it’s freely available as a PDF:

The letters between James Lamont and Charles Darwin on Arctic fauna

C. Leah Devlin

Abstract In the summers of 1858 and 1859, the Scot Sir James Lamont of Knockdow embarked on two cruises to Svalbard (referred to by Lamont as Spitzbergen [sic]) to hunt, make geographical surveys, and collect geological and biological specimens. Lamont’s return from these voyages coincided with the publication of the joint Charles Darwin-Alfred Russel Wallace paper, ‘On the tendency of species to form varieties; on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection’ by the Linnean Society in August 1858 and, a year later, the publication of Darwin’s On the origin of species. Profoundly influenced by Darwin’s ideas, Lamont initiated a correspondence with the naturalist, relating examples of what he considered to be natural selection, observed during his hunting expeditions. In his Svalbard travelogue, Seasons with the sea-horses, Lamont expounded specifically upon walrus and polar bear evolution, ideas inspired by sporadic yet encouraging letters from the renowned naturalist.

GUEST POST: Darwin’s Polar Bear

The following guest post is from writer and wilderness guide Michael Engelhard, whose new book Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon is soon-to-be published by the University of Washington Press. Interested in doing a guest post about Darwin? Drop me an email at michaeldavidbarton AT gmail DOT com.

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polar-bear

 

Darwin’s Polar Bear

by Michael Engelhard

Any high school student knows (or should know) how the beaks of Galápagos “finches” (it was in fact the islands’ mockingbirds that were influential) – of species confined to different islands – helped Darwin to develop his ideas about evolution. But few people realize that the polar bear too, informed his grand theory.

Letting his fancy run wild, in On the Origin of Species, the man used to thinking in eons hypothesized “a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale.” Darwin based this speculation on a black bear the fur trader-explorer Samuel Hearne had observed swimming for hours, its mouth wide open, catching insects in the water. If the supply of insects were constant, Darwin thought, and no better-adapted competitors present, such a species could well take shape over time.

Systematic approaches to animals and their respective niches had long fertilized the intellectual landscape. Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, in his Histoire Naturelle (published serially between 1749 and 1788) clearly distinguished a “land-bear” from a “sea-bear.” But his land-bear category was still muddled: it included a “white bear of the forest” as well as a white sea-bear. The count would have likely become aware of polar bears in the boreal forests of Hudson Bay by 1782, when France occupied Prince of Wales Fort at the mouth of the Churchill River. In a 1785 German edition of the Histoire Naturelle, Buffon’s white land-bear looks different from his sea-bear, clearly showing the shorter neck and snout characteristic of brown bears and black bears. Perhaps the count knew about British Columbia’s white black bears or “spirit bears,” which could have confused him. (Other contributions by Buffon were significant. He discovered the first principle of biogeography, noticing that despite similar environments, different regions have distinct plants and animals.)

Buffon’s classifying of animals by region or habitat – as in the case of the two “different” white bears – prompted later naturalists to try to explain their origins and distribution as resulting from the characteristics of a place. Long before the idea of “habitat” began to infiltrate scientific discourse, the polar bear’s range and that of its prey had been linked to environmental conditions. Synthesizing the work of the Comte de Buffon and other naturalists, the Anglo-Irish Romantic writer Oliver Goldsmith thought the “Greenland bear” exceptional, because it is “the only animal that, by being placed in the coldest climate, grows larger than those that live in the temperate zones. All other species of animated nature diminish as they approach the poles, and seem contracted in their size by the rigours of the ambient atmosphere… In short, all the variations of its figure and its colour seem to proceed from the coldness of the climate where it resides and the nature of the food it is supplied with.” Food availability does play a role in body mass, as does a region’s mean annual temperature, and while polar bears are not the only compact animal thriving in the Arctic such biogeographic observations anticipated the theory of evolution and principles of ecology.

On Svalbard expeditions in the summers of 1858 and 1859, the Scottish nobleman-explorer James Lamont watched polar bears frolic and dive. Intuiting that the animal had become what it is by living on seals, he deduced that the seal and the walrus must have originated first. Lamont assumed that polar bears had evolved from brown bears, “who, finding their means of subsistence running short, and pressed by hunger, ventured on the ice and caught some seals… so there is no impossibility in supposing that the brown bears, who by my theory were the progenitors of the present white bears, were accidently driven over to Greenland and Spitzbergen by storms or currents.” The palest brown bears with the greatest amount of external fat, Lamont thought, would have had the best chance to survive and therefore, reproduce. Upon his return, he wrote to Darwin, whose On the Origin of Species had been published in 1859. Encouraged by Darwin’s response, Lamont elaborated upon walrus and polar bear evolution in his 1861 travelogue, Seasons with the Sea-horses. Darwin approved of Lamont’s hypothesis and because Lamont’s thinking on the subject predated the publication of On the Origin of Species, he later credited Lamont (as he did Alfred Russell Wallace) with independently conceiving the theory of natural selection.

The oldest polar bear fossils found are from Svalbard and northern Norway and have been dated at 115,000–130,000 years old, before the beginning of the last Ice Age. But some biologists think that polar bears diverged from brown bears as early as 600,000 years ago. According to current research, polar bears evolved from brown bears that ventured onto the frozen ocean to stalk marine mammals, possibly after climate separated them from the main population descended from a common ancestor. This was not a single, clean-cut departure, and repeated pairings between both species have turned the family tree into a thicket. Shrinking sea ice could force polar bears to mingle with their southern cousins again, particularly as the latter now travel farther north. In coastal Arctic Alaska, grizzlies have been observed feasting on bowhead whale carcasses, sometimes in the company of polar bears and interbreeding has been documented.

After he had been ridiculed for his musings on a future, insect-eating cetacean bear, Darwin altered that passage in the second edition of Origin and removed it from subsequent ones. “The Bear case has been well laughed at, & disingenuously distorted by some into my saying that a bear could be converted into a whale,” he responded to the Irish algae specialist William Henry Harvey. Still, Darwin insisted that “there is no especial difficulty in a Bear’s mouth being enlarged to any degree useful to its changing habits,—no more difficulty than man has found in increasing the crop of the pigeon, by continued selection, until it is literally as big as whole rest of body.” Lamont’s observations and theorizing as well as the later findings about polar bear evolution vindicated the eminent naturalist and his thought experiment.

Image: L’ours de mer, the Comte de Buffon’s “sea-bear,” from his Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, 1776. The French polymath paved the way for theories about speciation. (Université de Bordeaux)

Michael Engelhard is the author of Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon (University of Washington Press). Trained as an anthropologist, he now lives in Fairbanks, Alaska and works as a wilderness guide in the Arctic.

ice-bear-240x300

 

L I N K S

When was the last time I put up a photo of the whole family?

Links:

History of geology: Darwin’s rat: a first geological view on mammalian evolutionGeology History in Caricatures: Exploring and Educating Geohistory

Panda’s Thumb: Don’t Make a Monkey out of Me

Why Evolution Is True: The late Ernst Mayr speaks

BBC: Botanist Sandy Knapp considers 19th-century naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace’s surprisingly radical views about our relationship with nature (audio)

The Renaissance Mathematicus: Where the pictures came from

Smithsonian: America’s True History of Religious Tolerance

Philadelphia Inquirer: Uncovering Edgar Allan Poe – the science buff

The Quackometer: The Curious Case of Oxford University Press, Homeopathy and Charles Darwin

Whewell’s Ghost: Representing astronomers: absent-minded or drunk?

Skulls in the Stars: Benjamin Franklin shocks the world! (1752)

Cambridge Trip #7: Beetles, Finches and Barnacles at the University Museum of Zoology

13 July 2009

After the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, Richard and I headed across the street to the University Museum of Zoology. Again, as with the Sedgwick, the museum was free. All the university museums at Cambridge are free! The zoology museum had another – although much smaller – Darwin exhibit, Beetles, Finches and Barnacles: The Zoological Collections of Charles Darwin. Here are some general shots from the museum:

What you see as you approach the Zoology Museum

What you see as you approach the University Museum of Zoology

Cambridge is a bike city

Cambridge is a bike city

Horse, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Horse, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Spider crab, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Spider crab, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Darwins rhea, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Darwin's rhea, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Cephalopods, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Cephalopods, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Crocodilians & Dinosaurs, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Crocodilians & Dinosaurs, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

A little in-house research, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

A little in-house research, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Leatherback turtle, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Leatherback turtle, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Lepidoptera, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Lepidoptera, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Birds, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Birds, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Okapi, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Okapi, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Elephant seal, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Elephant seal, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Mammals, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Mammals, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Giraffe, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Giraffe, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Rhinoceros, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Rhinoceros, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Primates, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Primates, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Taking his place:

The Descent of Richard Carter, FCD

The Descent of Richard Carter, FCD

Crab, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Crab, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Spider crab, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Spider crab, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Centipede, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Centipede, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Pareiasaur, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Pareiasaur, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Whale, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Whale, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Now for the Darwin exhibit:

Label in the lobby informing of the Darwin exhibit

Label in the lobby informing of the Darwin exhibit

Close up of the Darwin painting

Close up of the Darwin painting

While the Darwin exhibit at the zoology museum highlights beetles (university Darwin), finches (Beagle Darwin), and barnacles (1840/50s Darwin), the image of Darwin that greets visitors to the museum is of a much older, bearded Darwin. Granted, there is an image of the young Darwin in the exhibit, but the old seems to be favored over the young:

Young Darwin, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Young Darwin, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Darwin exhibit, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Darwin exhibit, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Darwin exhibit, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Beagle specimens, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Darwin exhibit, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Darwin books, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Darwin exhibit, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Beagle specimens, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Darwin exhibit, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Barnacle slides, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Darwin exhibit, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Darwin exhibit, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Finches, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Finches, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Richard photographing beetles, University Museum of Zoology, Museum

Richard photographing beetles, University Museum of Zoology, Museum

Check out Richard’s post about the beetles here.

Darwin exhibit, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Darwin exhibit, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Darwins beetle box, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Darwin's beetle box, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Also at the zoology museum was a glass art exhibit by Tolly Nason, Finch by Finch, a series lighted beaks:

Finch by Finch, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Finch by Finch, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Finch by Finch, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Finch by Finch, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Finch by Finch, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Finch by Finch, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

And Richard caught me in the background in a video of the exhibit:

Other specimens of or similar to Darwin’s were placed throughout the museum:

Glyptodon, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Glyptodon, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Pheasant feathers, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Pheasant feathers, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Megatherium, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Megatherium, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Octopus, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Octopus, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Richard also has a post about the octopus up on The Red Notebook.

In my next post I will share some images from the the exhibit Darwin’s Microscope at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science.

You can view all the photos from my trip here, if you feel so inclined. Some of Richard’s Cambridge photos are here.

PREVIOUS: Cambridge Trip #6: Darwin the Geologist at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth SciencesCambridge Trip #5: Darwin Groupies Explore CambridgeCambridge Trip #4: Darwin in the Field Conference, Pt. 2Cambridge Trip #3: Darwin in the Field ConferenceCambridge Trip #2: Finding My WayCambridge Trip #1: Traveling

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

George Gaylord Simpson (Died 6 Oct 1984; born 16 June 1902). U.S. paleontologist known for his contributions to evolutionary theory and to the understanding of intercontinental migrations of animal species in past geological times. Simpson specialized in early fossil mammals, leading expeditions on four continents and discovering in 1953 the 50-million-year old fossil skulls of dawn horses in Colorado. He helped develop the modern biological theory of evolution, drawing on paleontology, genetics, ecology, and natural selection to show that evolution occurs as a result of natural selection operating in response to shifting environmental conditions. He spent most of his career as a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History.

Bernard-Germain-Étienne Lacépède (Died 6 Oct 1825; born 26 Dec 1756). (Bernard-Germain-) Étienne de La Ville-sur-Illon, comte de (count of) Lacépède, was a French naturalist interested in herpetology and ichthyology. Buffon secured him a position at the Jardin du Roi (later the Jardin des Plantes) and invited him to continue his work Histoire Naturelle in animal classification. To supplement Buffon’s work, Lacépède published several volumes which dealt with the oviparous quadrupeds (1788), reptiles (1789), fishes (1798-1803), and whales (1804). After the French Revolution, he became a politician, which activity prevented him making any further contribution of importance to science.

"What’s New" at Darwin Online

These were added to The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online between August 4 and September 18, 2008:

Darwin, C. R. [Edinburgh notebook]. (1827; 1828-1829; 1837-1839). Text Image The first complete transcription of this notebook- which also contains Cambridge beetle notes and post-Beagle voyage zoology notes.

Darwin, C. R. [1868]. The variation of animals and plants under domestication. With a preface by Asa Gray. New York: Orange Judd and Co. 1st American edition. Vol. 1 Image PDF

Darwin, C. R. 1882. [Extract from a letter on the origin of mammals]. In Savile, B. W. 1882. The late Mr. Darwin. Record n.s. 1: 149. Text Image

Darwin, C. R. 1845. [Testimonial.] In Hooker, Joseph Dalton ed., Testimonials in favour of Joseph Dalton Hooker R.N., M.D., F.L.S. as a candidate for the vacant chair of botany in the University of Edinburgh. Second series [of four]. Edinburgh: Neil and Co., p. 25. Text Image

Hooker, Joseph Dalton ed., 1845. Testimonials in favour of Joseph Dalton Hooker R.N., M.D., F.L.S. as a candidate for the vacant chair of botany in the University of Edinburgh. In four series. Edinburgh: Neil and Co. Image PDF

Darwin, C. R. [c. 1827.] [Notes on reading Sumner’s Evidence of Christianity]. Text & Image Rare reading notes for Darwin’s preparation to become a clergyman.

Darwin, C. R. [5.1865.] Hypothesis of Pangenesis. Text & Image

Bibron, G. 1841. Le rhinoderme de Darwin. Rhinoderma Darwinii. In Duméril, A. M. C. & Bibron, G. eds. Erpétologie générale, ou Histoire naturelle compléte des reptiles. Paris: Librairie Encyclopedique de Roret, vol. 8, p. 659. Text Image

Chancellor, Gordon. Introduction to ‘Chiloe Janr. 1835’ [Beagle notes].

Lyell, Charles. 1830-3. Principles of geology, being an attempt to explain the former changes of the Earth’s surface, by reference to causes now in operation. London: John Murray. Volume 1. Text Volume 2. Text Volume 3. Text

[Buob, L.] 1882. Darwin’s Heim. Ueber Land und Meer. Allgemeine illustrierte Zeitung No. 34: 691-2, 1 plate, p. 688. [with English translation] Text

Darwin, C. R. 1881. [Letter to G. E. Mengozzi on design in nature]. Roma Etrusca no. 2 (15 July): 10. Text Image

Darwin, C. R. ed. 1840. Fossil Mammalia Part 1 of The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle. by Richard Owen. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith Elder and Co. Text Image PDF

Darwin, C. R. ed. 1839. Mammalia Part 2 of The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle. by George R. Waterhouse. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith Elder and Co. Text Image PDF

Darwin Online has been awarded the prestigious Thackray Medal by the Society for the History of Natural History which writes; ‘The medal is awarded for a significant achievement in the history of those areas of interest to the Society in memory of John Thackray. … [Darwin Online is] a monumental achievement: making freely available an exhaustive collection of primary sources and doing so in a way that is easy to use by both novices and experts’. The medal will be awarded by the President of the Society at its AGM on 28 March 2009 at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.

Chancellor, Gordon. ‘Coccatoos & Crows’: An introduction to the Sydney Notebook

Darwin, C. R. 1882. [Quotation from a letter on civilizing the Fuegians]. Leisure Hour p. 533. Text Image

[Leifchild, John R.] 1859. [Review of] On the origin of species. Athenaeum no. 1673 (19 November): 659-660. Image

Anon. 1859. Charles Darwin on the origin of species. Chambers’s Journal 11: 388-391. Image

Lewes, G. H. 1860. Studies in animal life. Cornhill Magazine 1: 438-447. (Reprinted from John Bull 24 December 1859) Image

Anon. 1860. Natural selection. All the Year Round 3 no.63 (7 July): 293-299. Image

D. T. A. 1860. Palaeontology. Dublin University Magazine 55 (June): 712-722. Image

Hooker, J. D. 1859. [Review of] On the origin of species. Gardeners’ Chronicle (31 December): 1052. part 1 Image

[Church, W. R.] 1860. [Review of] On the origin of species. Guardian (London) (8 February): 134-135. Image

Hibberd, Shirley. 1861. The genesis of organic forms. Recreative Science 2 (January): 266-267. Image

Anon. 1859. [Review of] On the origin of species. Saturday Review (London) (24 December): 775-776. Image [Including 15 October 1859 advertizement for Origin of species]

Anon. 1839. [Review of] Narrative… [and] Journal of researches… Quarterly Review 65, no. 129 (December): 194-234. Image

[Pelligrini, Carlo]. 1873. Men of the day, no. 57. “Old Bones.” [Richard Owen]. Vanity Fair (1 March). Image

Ape [Carlo Pelligrini]. 1869. Statesmen no. 25: [Samuel Wilberforce]. Vanity Fair (24 July): 50. Image

Ape [Carlo Pelligrini]. 1871. Men of the day no 19: [Thomas Henry Huxley]. Vanity Fair (28 January): 306. Image

Darwin, C. R. 1866. L’origine des espèces par sélection naturelle ou des lois de transformation des êtres organisés. Traduit en Français avec l’autorisation de l’auteur par Clémence Royer avec une préface et des notes du traducteur. Deuxième édition augmentée d’après des notes de l’auteur. Paris: Victor Masson et fils; Guillaumin et Cie. Text Image PDF (Interim images from Google books)

Darwin, C. R. 1870. De la fécondation des orchidées par les insectes et des bons résultats du croisement. Trans. by Louis Rérolle. Paris: C. Reinwald. Text Image PDF (Interim images from Bibliothèque nationale de France http://gallica.bnf.fr/)

1873. L’origine des espèces au moyen de la sélection naturelle, ou La lutte pour l’existence dans la nature. Text Image PDF (Interim images from Bibliothèque nationale de France http://gallica.bnf.fr/)

Darwin, C. R. 1877. Les mouvements et les habitudes des plantes grimpantes. Ouvrage traduit de l’anglais sur la deuxième édition par le Dr Richard Gordon. Paris: C.Reinwald et Cie. Text Image PDF (Interim images from Bibliothèque nationale de France http://gallica.bnf.fr/)

Darwin, C. R. 1877. Des effets de la fécondation croisée et de la fécondation directe dans le règne végétal. Ouvrage traduit de l’anglais et annoté avec autorisation de l’auteur, par le Dr Edouard Heckel. Paris: C.Reinwald et Cie. Text Image PDF (Interim images from Bibliothèque nationale de France http://gallica.bnf.fr/)

Darwin, C. R. 1879-1880. De la variation des animaux et des plantes à l’état domestique. Traduit sur la seconde édition anglaise par Ed. Barbier; préface de Carl Vogt. Paris: C. Reinwald et Cie. (Interim images from Bibliothèque nationale de France http://gallica.bnf.fr/) Vol. 1 Text Image PDF Vol. 2 Text Image PDF

Darwin, C. R. 1880. Erasmus Darwin und seine Stellung in der Geschichte der Descendenz-Theorie von Ernst Krause. Mit seinem Lebens- und Charakterbilde von Charles Darwin. Leipzig: E. Günther. Text Image PDF (Interim images from Bibliothèque nationale de France http://gallica.bnf.fr/)

Darwin, C. R. 1887. Über den Instinkt. In G. J. Romanes, Die geistige Entwicklung im Tierreich. Leipzig: E. Günther. Text Image PDF (Interim images from Bibliothèque nationale de France http://gallica.bnf.fr/)

Darwin, C. R. 1890. L’expression des Émotions chez l’homme et les animaux. 2d ed. Trans. by S. Pozzi and René Benoit. Paris: C. Reinwald. Text Image PDF (Interim images from Bibliothèque nationale de France http://gallica.bnf.fr/)

Darwin, C. R. 1891. La descendance de l’homme et la sélection sexuelle. Trans. by Edmond Barbier. Preface by Carl Vogt. Paris: C. Reinwald. Text Image PDF (Interim images from Bibliothèque nationale de France http://gallica.bnf.fr/)

Darwin, C. R. 1902. Observations géologiques sur les iles volcaniques: explorées par l’expédition du “Beagle” et notes sure la géologie de l’Australie et du Cap de Bonne-Espérance. Trans. by A. F. Renard. Paris: C. Reinwald. Text Image PDF

Darwin, C. R. ed. 1838-1840. Fossil Mammalia Part 1 of The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle. by Richard Owen. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith Elder and Co. Image PDF

Darwin, C. R. ed. 1838-1839. Mammalia Part 2 of The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle. by George R. Waterhouse. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith Elder and Co. Image PDF

Beck, R. 1865. [Darwin’s dissecting microscope.] A treatise on the construction, proper use, and capabilities of Smith, Beck, and Beck’s achromatic microscopes. London: J. Van Voorst, pp. 102-104. Text Image

Darwin, C. R. 1870. [Note on the age of certain birds]. In Lankester, E. R. On comparative longevity in man and the lower animals. London: Macmillan, p. 58. Text Image A NEWLY DISCOVERED DARWIN PUBLICATION!

Keynes, Neville. 1877. [Recollection of Darwin’s honorary LLD degree]. Diary. Text

Anon. 1883. Mr. Charles Darwin on infant development. The Field Naturalist pp. 5-7. Text Image

Darwin, C. R. Charles Darwin on animal mimicry. The Field Naturalist p. 134. Text Image

Geldart, E. M. 1883. Anecdote of the late Charles Darwin. The Field Naturalist p. 21. Text Image

Anon. 1883. Darwin’s handwriting. The Field Naturalist p. 78. Text Image

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

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.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

George Dobson (Born 4 Sep 1844; died 26 Nov 1895). Irish zoologist, chiefly remembered for his laborious investigation into the structure and classification of the chiroptera and insectivora, on both of which he became the chief authority of his time. After graduating with medical training (1867) from Trinity College, Dublin, he rose to the rank of surgeon lieutenant colonel in the army. He also served in the Zulu war of 1879. He was awarded the gold medal of the Dublin Pathological Society for his essay on Diagnosis and Pathology of the Injuries and Diseases of the Shoulderblade. He contributed the sections for Insectivora, Chiroptera, and Rodentia, in the article Mammalia and the articles Mole, Shrew, and Vampire to the ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Spencer Fullerton Baird (Died 19 Aug 1887; born 3 Feb 1823). American naturalist, vertebrate zoologist, and in his time the leading authority on North American birds and mammals. A pioneer in museum collecting and display, he was named the Smithsonian Institution’s second Secretary upon the death of the first Secretary, Joseph Henry. Whereas Henry had envisioned the Smithsonian primarily as a research institute, Baird saw Smithson’s gift as the means to develop a national museum. By 1878, Congress had formally given responsibility for the U.S. National Museum to the Smithsonian Institution. During the Baird years, the Smithsonian became a showcase for the nation’s history, resources, and treasures. By the end of his tenure, the National Museum housed more than 2.5 million specimens and artifacts.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

David Grandison Fairchild (Died 6 Aug 1954; born 7 Apr 1869). American botanist and plant explorer who supervised the introduction of over 20,000 exotic plants and varieties of established crops into the U.S., including soya beans, mangos, alfalfa, nectarines, horseradish, and flowering cherries. He spent 37 years seeking new and useful plants by travelling the world including the South Sea Islands, Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Japan, China, the Persian Gulf, Africa, the West Indies, and South America. In 1898 he set up a small plant introduction garden on a six-acre plot near Miami, Florida, especially interested in aesthetically valuable or economically useful exotic fruits and plants. He managed the Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction program of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (1906-28).

Florentino Ameghino (Died 6 Aug 1911; born 19 Sep 1853). 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.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

William J. Hamilton (Died 27 Jul 1990; born 11 Dec 1902). William J(ohn) Hamilton, Jr. was an American mammalogist and environmentalist who stressed the vital ecological role of predators and the importance of conserving fur-bearing populations. His interest in plants and animals began in childhood, and working while a teenager for three summers for Daniel C. Beard (a naturalist, artist, and cofounder of the Boy Scouts of America). Hamilton’s research dealt with mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and horticulture, with a major interest was in life histories and ecology. He wrote books, including American Mammals (1939), and over 200 papers. He also made some pioneering studies of microtine life cycles.

Salim Ali (Died 27 Jul 1987; born 12 Nov 1896). Indian ornithologist, the “birdman of India,” who championed conservation of India’s biological diversity. His fieldwork provided scientific guidance for the Indian government’s conservation efforts. His love of birds began at age 10, when he began writing his observations. Eventually, he undertook professional education in ornithology. In 1930 he began a bird survey of Hyderabad State. By 1976, he had published several popular regional field guides of Indian birds for which he is famous. These surveys were based on extensive travels throughout India and Pakistan. The title of his autobiography “The Fall of a Sparrow” (1987) recalls the first sparrow that drew his interest as a boy.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Sir William Henry Flower (Died 1 Jul 1899; born 30 Nov 1831). British zoologist who made significant contributions to comparative anatomy and clarification of the classification of mammals, including carnivores (1869), rhinocerosces (1875), and edentates (1882). He was superintendent, and subsequently followed Sir Richard Owen as director of Natural History Departments of the British Museum of Natural History (1884-98). Flower’s innovations in museum displays greatly improved their educational value to the public. His main research interest dealt with marsupials, primates and especially whales, through which he was the first to demonstrate that lemurs are primates. Further, in thorough anthropological studies, he recorded detailed measurements of over 1,300 human skulls.

Evolution theory In 1858, the Wallace-Darwin theory of evolution was first published at the Linnean Society in London*. The previous month Charles Darwin received a letter from Alfred Wallace, who was collecting specimens in the East Indies. Wallace had independently developed a theory of natural selection – which was almost identical to Darwin’s. The letter asked Darwin to evaluate the theory, and if worthy of publication, to forward the manuscript to Charles Lyell. Darwin did so, almost giving up his clear priority for he had not yet published his masterwork The Origin of Species. Neither Darwin nor Wallace were present for the oral presentation at the Linnean Society, where geologist Charles Lyell and botanist Joseph Hooker presented both Wallace’s paper and excerpts from Darwin’s unpublished 1844 essay.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Oliver Perry Hay (Born 22 May 1846; died 2 Nov 1930). American paleontologist whose catalogs of fossil vertebrates greatly organized existing knowledge and became standard references. From 1912, he conduct his research at the United States National Museum where he assisted in working up and describing the museum’s collections in vertebrate paleontology. Hay’s primary scientific interest was the study of the Pleistocene vertebrata of North America. He is renowned for his work on skull and brain anatomy. His first major work was his Bibliography and Catalogue of the Fossil Vertebrata of North America (1902), supplemented by two more volumes (1929-30). Hay also wrote on the evidence of early humans in North America.

Joseph Wood Krutch (Died 22 May 1970; born 25 Nov 1893). American naturalist, conservationist, writer, and critic.

Mastodon and Man In 1979, the discovery of a Clovis type projectile point found in association with mastodon remains provided the first solid evidence of the coexistence of humans and the American mastodon in Eastern North America. Paleontologist Russell W. Graham of the Illinois State Museum made the discovery during a state sponsored excavation in the Kimmswick Bone Bed, near Imperial, Missouri. The first recorded report of bones of mastodons and other now-extinct animals in the vicinity of the town of Kimmswick, Missouri, was in the early 1800s. St. Louis Museum owner, Albert C. Koch, in 1839 excavated bones weathering out of the banks along Rock Creek. The site is now the Mastodon State Historic Site and excavations have been halted.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Henry Horatio Dixon (Born 19 May 1869; died 20 Dec 1953). Irish botanist who, with John Joly, investigated plant transpiration and originated the tension theory of sap ascent in trees (1894) building on the work of Eduard Strasburger, François Donny and Berthelot. Dixon’s earlier work was in cytology and had developed sterile culture methods for seedlings (1892). After the 1894 publication, he made further transpiration experiments to consolidate his theory which he published in 1909 and 1914. He resolved the debate over the mechanism of xylem transport by proposing a compromise between the pulling power of the leaf and the tensile strength of the water columns. From 1910, he was curator of a new herbarium at Trinity College Dublin.

Carl E. Akeley (Born 19 May 1864; died 17 Nov 1926). Carl Ethan Akeley was an American naturalist and explorer who developed the taxidermic method for mounting museum displays to show animals in their natural surroundings. His method of applying skin on a finely molded replica of the body of the animal gave results of unprecedented realism and elevated taxidermy from a craft to an art. He mounted the skeleton of the famous African elephant Jumbo. He invented the Akeley cement gun to use while mounting animals, and the Akeley camera which was used to capture the first movies of gorillas. In the 1920’s Akeley made a large specimen collection, part of the American Museum’s famous African mammal hall.

Previous post on Akeley.

Born This Day: Roy Chapman Andrews

From Today in Science History:

Roy Chapman Andrews (Born 26 Jan 1884; died 11 Mar 1960). American naturalist, explorer, and author, who spent his entire career at the American Museum of Natural History. He led many important scientific expeditions with financial support through his public lectures and books, particularly in central Asia and eastern Asia. On his 1925 central Asian expedition, the first known dinosaur eggs were discovered, also: a skull and parts of Baluchitherium, the largest known land mammal; extensive deposits of fossil mammals and reptiles previously unknown; evidence of prehistoric human life; and geological strata previously unexplored. During his career he was not known as an influential scientist, yet Andrews was the museum promoter, creating immense excitement and successfully advancing research there.

"What’s New" at Darwin Online

These were added to The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online on August 24, 2007:

Improvements to the search engine and search results pages: for example, Darwin is now the default name and English the default language.

Darwin, C. R. 1861. Dun horses. The Field 17 (27 April): 358. Text Images Text & images

Darwin, C. R. 1861. Influence of the form of the brain on the character of fowls. The Field 17 (4 May): 383. Text Images Text & images

Bennett, T. 1861. Dun horses. The Field 17 (18 May): 431. Images

Darwin, C. R. 1861. On dun horses, and on the effect of crossing differently coloured breeds. The Field 17 (25 May): 451. Text Images Text & images

‘Eques (Argyllshire)’. 1861. Dun horses. The Field 17 (8 June): 494-5. Images

Darwin, C. R. 1861. Dun horses. The Field 17 (15 June): 521. Text Images Text & images

Herschel, J. F. W. 1840. A preliminary discourse on the study of natural philosophy. Part of Dionysius Lardner’s Cabinet cyclopædia. London. Images [Images from Google books]