biology

George Shaw and the unique Mammal Platypus

George Shaw and the unique Mammal Platypus

On July 22, 1813, English botanist and zoologist George Shaw passed away. Shaw published one of the first English descriptions with scientific names of several Australian animals including the very first scientific description of the platypus. “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Kearsley Shaw, as quoted in [9]…
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Frits Zernike and the Phase Contrast Microscope

Frits Zernike and the Phase Contrast Microscope

On July 16 , 1888, Dutch physicist and Nobel Laureate Frits Zernike was born. He is best known for his invention of the phase contrast microscope, an instrument that permits the study of internal cell structure without the need to stain and thus kill the cells. “I am impressed by the great limitations of the human mind. How quick are we to learn, that is, to imitate what others have done or thought before. And how…
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Ilya Mechnikov and the Discovery of Macrophages

Ilya Mechnikov and the Discovery of Macrophages

On May 16, 1845, Russian biologist, zoologist and Nobel Laureate Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov was born. He is best known for his pioneering research into the immune system. In particular, Mechnikov is credited with the discovery of macrophages in 1882. Mechnikov received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1908, shared with Paul Ehrlich, for his work on phagocytosis.[4] “The duration of the life of men may be considerably increased. It would be true progress to…
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Thomas Henry Huxley – Darwin’s Bulldog

Thomas Henry Huxley – Darwin’s Bulldog

On May 4, 1825, English biologist and anthropologist Thomas Henry Huxley was born. A specialist in comparative anatomy he is known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his advocacy of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution[8,9]. “If the question is put to me would I rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man highly endowed by nature and possessed of great means of influence and yet who employs these faculties and that…
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John James Audubon’s Birds of America

John James Audubon’s Birds of America

On April 26, 1785, French-American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter John James Audubon was born. He was notable for his expansive studies to document all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats. His major work, a color-plate book entitled The Birds of America (1827–1839), is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed. “Never give up listening to the sounds of birds.” –…
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Nikolaas Tinbergen and the Study of the Instinct

Nikolaas Tinbergen and the Study of the Instinct

On April 15, 1907, Dutch biologist, ornithologist, and Nobel Laureate Nikolaas Tinbergen was born. He studied the behavior of animals in their natural habitats and shared (with Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch) the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1973 for their discoveries concerning “organization and elicitation of individual and social behavior patterns.” Nikolaas Tinbergen – Early Years Nikolaas Tinbergen was born in The Hague, Netherlands, as the third of…
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The Botanical Collections of José Celestino Mutis

The Botanical Collections of José Celestino Mutis

On April 6, 1732, Spanish priest, botanist and mathematician José Celestino Mutis was born. Between 1783 and 1808, Mutis tirelessly led an extraordinary endeavor to collect and illustrate the plants of Colombia, assembling one of the richest botanical collections in the world of his time. José Celestino Mutis – Becoming a Botanist José Celestino Mutis began studying medicine at the College of Surgery in Cádiz. There, Mutis also studied physics, chemistry, and…
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Charles de l’Écluse and the Dutch Tulips

Charles de l’Écluse and the Dutch Tulips

On April 4, 1609, Flemish doctor and pioneering botanist Charles de l’Écluse, L’Escluse, or with his Latin name Carolus Clusius passed away. He is considered perhaps the most influential of all 16th-century scientific horticulturists. He travelled and collected botanical information throughout Europe, and introduced new plants from outside Europe. In the history of gardening he is remembered not only for his scholarship but also for laying the foundations of Dutch tulip breeding…
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Charles Elton and  the beginning of Modern Animal Ecology

Charles Elton and the beginning of Modern Animal Ecology

On March 29, 1900, English zoologist and animal ecologist Charles Sutherland Elton was born. Elton‘s name is associated with the establishment of modern population and community ecology, including studies of invasive organisms. In 1927, Elton published his now classic book Animal Ecology, in which he took up the concept of food chains that had been originally introduced by the African-Arab scientist and philosopher Al-Jahiz in the 9th century. “Food is the burning…
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Andrea Cesalpino and the Classification of Plants

Andrea Cesalpino and the Classification of Plants

On February 23, 1603, Italian physician, philosopher and botanist Andrea Cesalpino passed away. He classified plants according to their fruits and seeds, rather than alphabetically or by medicinal properties. He helped establish botany as an independent science and also made contributions to medical science and physiology. Andrea Cesalpino – Early Years Andrea Cesalpino was probably born on June 5, 1525 in Arezzo, Tuscany. However, some sources suggest also 1519 as his actual year…
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