biology

Maurice WIlkins and the DNA

Maurice WIlkins and the DNA

On December 15, 1916, New Zealand-born British physicist, molecular biologist, and Nobel Laureate Maurice Wilkins was born. Wilkins’ research contributed to the scientific understanding of phosphorescence, isotope separation, optical microscopy and X-ray diffraction, and to the development of radar. He is best known for his work at King’s College London on the structure of DNA. Maurice Wilkins was born in Pongaroa, north Wairarapa, New Zealand where his father, Edgar Henry…
Evolution is not Reversible – Louis Dollo

Evolution is not Reversible – Louis Dollo

On December 7, 1857, French-born Belgian palaeontologist Louis Dollo was born. Dollo is best known for his work on dinosaurs. He also posited that evolution is not reversible, known as Dollo’s law. Together with the Austrian Othenio Abel, Dollo established the principles of paleobiology. Louis Dollo was born in Lille, Nord-Pas-de-Calais. At the École Centrale de Lille, Dollo studied with the Jules Gosselet and the zoologist Alfred Giard. In 1877, Louis…
Sir William Henry Flower on Mammals and the Human Brain

Sir William Henry Flower on Mammals and the Human Brain

On November 30, 1831, English comparative anatomist and surgeon William Henry Flower was born. Flower became a leading authority on mammals, and especially on the primate brain. He supported Thomas Henry Huxley in an important controversy with Richard Owen about the human brain, and eventually succeeded Owen as Director of the Natural History Museum. William Henry Flower matriculated in Arts in 1849 and later joined the Medical School at University…
The Discovery of the Taung Child

The Discovery of the Taung Child

On November 28, 1924, workers at the Buxton Limeworks near Taung, South Africa, showed a fossilised primate skull to Raymond Dart, an Australian anatomist and anthropologist, who described it as a new species in the journal Nature in 1925. The fossil was soon nicknamed the Taung Child and the new species was named Australopithecus africanus – the “southern ape from Africa” – and described by Dart as “an extinct race…
Karl von Frisch and the Dancing Bees

Karl von Frisch and the Dancing Bees

On November 20, 1886, Austrian ethologist and Nobel Laureate Karl Ritter von Frisch was born. His work centered on investigations of the sensory perceptions of the honey bee and he was one of the first to translate the meaning of the waggle dance, which he described in his 1927 book “Aus dem Leben der Bienen” (The Dancing Bees). He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1973, along with Nikolaas…
Salim Ali – the Birdman of India

Salim Ali – the Birdman of India

On November 12, 1896, Indian ornithologist and naturalist Sálim Ali was born. Sometimes referred to as the “birdman of India“, Salim Ali was among the first Indians to conduct systematic bird surveys across India and several bird books that he wrote helped popularise ornithology in India. Along with Sidney Dillon Ripley he wrote the ten volume Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan. Salim Ali was born into a Sulaimani…
Seymour Benzer and Behavioural Genetics

Seymour Benzer and Behavioural Genetics

On October 15, 1921, American physicist, molecular biologist and behavioral geneticist Seymour Benzer was born. Benzer is known for having developed a method for determining the detailed structure of viral genes. He coined the term cistron (1957) to denote functional subunits of genes. He also did much to elucidate the nature of genetic anomalies, called nonsense mutations, in terms of the nucleotide sequence of DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid. Seymour Benzer early developed…
Christian de Duve and the Cell Organelles

Christian de Duve and the Cell Organelles

On October 2, 1917, Belgian cytologist, biochemist and Nobel Laureate Christian de Duve was born. Duve made serendipitous discoveries of two cell organelles, peroxisome and lysosome, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1974 with Albert Claude and George E. Palade. Christian de Duve was born as son of Belgian shopkeeper Alphonse de Duve and wife Madeleine Pungs in the village of Thames Ditton, near…
Karl Gegenbaur and Comparative Anatomy

Karl Gegenbaur and Comparative Anatomy

On August 21, 1826, German anatomist Karl Gegenbaur was born. Gegenbaur demonstrated that the field of comparative anatomy offers important evidence supporting of the theory of evolution. He was a strong supporter of Charles Darwin‘s theory of organic evolution, having taught and worked, beginning in 1858, with Ernst Haeckel. Karl Gegenbaur noted that the most reliable clue to evolutionary history is homology, the comparison of anatomical parts which have a…
Edward Drinker Cope and the Neo-Lamarckian School of Thought

Edward Drinker Cope and the Neo-Lamarckian School of Thought

On July 28, 1840, American paleontologist and comparative anatomist Edward Drinker Cope was born. Being s well as a noted herpetologist and ichthyologist, he was a founder of the Neo-Lamarckism school of thought. This school believed that changes in developmental (embryonic) timing, not natural selection, was the driving force of evolution. Cope thought that groups of species that shared similar developmental patterns could be grouped into more inclusive groups (i.e.…
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