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Crustaceans/Selected biography

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Crustaceans/Selected biography

Selected biographies

William Elford Leach FRS (February 2, 1790 – August 26, 1836) was an English zoologist and marine biologist. In 1813, Leach was employed as assistant librarian in the Zoological Department at the British Museum. He set himself to sorting out the collections, many of which had been neglected since they had been left to the museum by Hans Sloane. During his time there he was made assistant keeper of the natural history department and became an expert on crustaceans and molluscs. In 1817, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. Leach also worked and published on insects, myriapods, arachnids, mammals and birds. Leach's nomenclature was a little eccentric - he named twenty-seven species after his friend John Cranch, who had collected the species in Africa and later died on HMS Congo. In 1818, he named nine genera after Caroline or anagrams of that name, possibly after his mistress. In 1821, he suffered a nervous breakdown due to overwork, and he resigned from the museum in March 1822. His elder sister took him to continental Europe to convalesce, and they travelled through France, Italy and Greece. He died of cholera in the Palazzo San Sebastiano, near Tortona, north of Genoa.


Charles Robert Darwin FRS (February 12, 1809 – April 19, 1882) was an English naturalist who established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection. In 1846, Darwin returned to a fascination in marine invertebrates, dating back to his student days with Robert Edmond Grant, by dissecting and classifying the barnacles (Cirripedia) he had collected on his voyages. In the following eight years of work on barnacles, Darwin's theory of natural selection helped him to find homologies, showing that slightly changed body parts served different functions to meet new conditions, and in some genera he found minute males parasitic on hermaphrodites, showing an intermediate stage in the evolution of distinct sexes. In 1853, this work earnt Darwin the Royal Society's Royal Medal, and it made his reputation as a biologist. Even without publication of his works on evolution, Darwin would have had a considerable reputation as the author of The Voyage of the Beagle, as a geologist who had published extensively on South America and had solved the puzzle of the formation of coral atolls, and as a biologist who had published the definitive work on barnacles.
Thomas Bell FRS (October 11, 1792 – March 13, 1880) was an English zoologist, surgeon and writer, born in Poole, Dorset, UK. Bell, like his mother Susan, took a keen interest in natural history which his mother also encouraged in his younger cousin Philip Henry Gosse. Bell left Poole in 1813 for his training as a dental surgeon in London. He combined two careers, becoming Professor of Zoology at King's College London in 1836 (on the strength of his amateur researches) and lecturing on anatomy at Guy's Hospital. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1844. He was President of the Linnean Society in 1858. Bell was at the heart of the scientific establishment and when Charles Darwin returned to London from the Beagle expedition on December 2, 1836, Bell was quick to take on the task of describing the reptile specimens. He was also entrusted with the specimens of crustaceans collected on the voyage. He was the authority in this field; his book British Stalked-eye Crustacea is a masterwork.
Jean Victoire Audouin. In 1832, Milne-Edwards became professor of hygiene and natural history at the Collège Central des Arts et Manufactures. In 1841, after the death of Audouin, Milne-Edwards succeeded him at the chair of entomology at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. In 1862, he succeeded Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in the long-vacant chair of zoology.

Much of his original work was published in the Annales des sciences naturelles, which he edited from 1834. His Histoire naturelle des Crustacés (1837–1841), long remained a standard work; other works include Histoire naturelle des coralliaires (1858–1860), Leçons sur la physiologie et l'anatomie comparée de l'homme et des animaux (1857–1881), and a work on the elements of zoology, originally published in 1834, but subsequently remodelled, which enjoyed an enormous circulation.


Edward J. Miers F.Z.S. F.L.S. (1851–1930) was a British zoologist and curator of the crustacean collection at the Natural History Museum in London. He contributed to the scientific reports from the Challenger expedition of 1872–1876, and described 32 new genera and at least 260 new species and subspecies of decapod crustaceans, along with four genera and 72 new species in other orders.

Miers published his Catalogue of the stalk- and sessile-eyed Crustacea of New Zealand in 1876 and revised the Plagusiinae, Hippidae, Majidae, Squillidae and Idoteidae in monographs dated 1878–1881. He also reported on the collections donated by the Admiralty from a number of voyages, including the survey of the coast of Japan by H.M.S. Sylvia (1870–1877), an expedition to view the Transit of Venus in Kerguelen and Rodrigues (1874–1875), a survey of the Galápagos Islands by H.M.S. Petrel, Novaya Zemlya by H.M.S. Isbjorn (1879), Baron Hermann-Maltzan's voyage to Gorée in 1881, and the voyages of H.M.S. Alert to Patagonia and the Strait of Magellan (1881–1882). The upheavals at his workplace and the quantity of work to be done may have taken their toll on Miers, and he was "completely prostrated with illness" for three months.

Miers was still working on material from the Alert expedition, when six boxes containing the crabs from the Challenger expedition arrived, sent by John Murray. Describing these crabs would be Miers' largest taxonomic work, one which was published in 1886 as Report on the Brachyura collected by H. M. S. Challenger during the years 1873–1876 in 1886. Miers' honorarium for this work was £63 (60 guineas).


Charles Chilton (1860–1929) was a New Zealand zoologist, the first rector to be appointed in Australasia, and the first person to be awarded a D.Sc. degree in New Zealand.

Chilton was born on September 27, 1860 at Little Marstone, Pencombe (near Leominster, Herefordshire, England) but emigrated with his family to New Zealand in 1862. They settled on a farm at East Eyreton, North Canterbury. He was troubled by his hips from an early age, and had his left leg amputated, using an artificial leg and a crutch thereafter. In 1881, he gained an M.A. with first class honours from Canterbury College, having been taught by Frederick Wollaston Hutton, who inspired him to take up biology, especially the study of crustaceans, which had been little studied in New Zealand up to that time.

Chilton's first scientific publication followed that same year, when he described three new species of crustacean (two crabs and one isopod) from Lyttelton Harbour and Lake Pupuke. He surprised the scientific world later that year by describing four species of amphipod and isopod from groundwaters at the family farm in Eyreton. He went on to discover the isopod Phreatoicus typicus in the same location, the first example ever described of the suborder Phreatoicidea, the "earliest derived isopod[s]".

Charles Chilton became rector of Christchurch University College in 1921, the first time such a post had been granted in Australia or New Zealand. Chilton died on October 25, 1929 of a sudden attack of pneumonia, before he could collect his life's work into a single monograph. He had published 130 papers on crustaceans, mostly amphipods, isopods and decapods, from all around the world, but especially from New Zealand, subterranean and sub-Antarctic waters.


The Reverend Thomas Roscoe Rede Stebbing F.R.S., F.L.S. (February 6, 1835 – July 8, 1926) was a British zoologist, who described himself as "a serf to natural history, principally employed about Crustacea".

Having trained as an evangelical Anglican, Stebbing expected to be a staunch opponent of Charles Darwin's recently published theory of evolution by natural selection. Following a critical review of The Descent of Man in The Times in 1871, Stebbing gained prominence by responding in Nature. Stebbing wrote a number of essays on the topic of Darwinism, in which he dissected the argument posited against it, and questioned various aspects of Christianity. His outspoken stance resulted in his being banned from preaching, and he was never offered a parish by the church.

Most of Stebbing's scientific works, comprising more than 110 papers, covered amphipod crustaceans. Stebbing produced a monograph on the amphipods collected on the 1872–1876 expedition by HMS Challenger. He also produced a monograph of the Cumacea, a natural history of the Crustacea, and a biography of the Scottish naturalist and founder of the University Marine Biological Station, Millport, David Robertson. In 1906, Stebbing published the volume on Gammaridea for the series Das Tierreich.


Mary J. Rathbun (1860–1943) was an American zoologist, specialising in crustaceans. She was born on June 11, 1860 in Buffalo, New York the youngest of five children. Her mother died when she was only one year old, and Mary was therefore "thrown on her own resources". She was schooled in Buffalo, graduating in 1878, but never attended college. Mary first saw the ocean in 1881 when she accompanied her brother, Richard Rathbun, to Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He was employed as a scientific assistant to Addison Emery Verrill, alongside Verrill's chief assistant, the carcinologist Sidney Irving Smith. Mary helped label, sort and record Smith's specimens, and worked on crustaceans ever since.

For three years, Mary worked on a George Washington University in 1917.


Robert Gurney (July 31, 1879 – March 5, 1950) was a British zoologist most famous for his monographs on British Freshwater Copepoda (1931–1933) and the Larvae of Decapod Crustacea (1942). He was born in 1879 as the fourth son of John Gurney and Isabel Charlotte Gurney (later Baroness Talbot de Malahide) of Sprowston Hall, Norfolk. He went to school at Eton College, and went on to study at New College, Oxford, graduating with first class honours in 1902. He was never associated with any institution, but worked from his home, initially in Norfolk, but later at Boars Hill. Realising the need for a specialist field station for freshwater biology to match the marine biological stations at Plymouth and Naples, Robert and his brother Eustace set up Great Britain's first freshwater laboratory at Sutton Broad. Gurney's two great study objects were the Copepoda and the larvae of Decapoda (zoea larva of Homarus gammarus pictured), and his greatest works were the three-volume monograph British Freshwater Copepoda, published by the Ray Society in 1931–1933, and his Larvae of Decapod Crustacea published by the Ray Society in 1942. Gurney travelled to North Africa and Bermuda, and received material from other foreign expeditions, including the Terra Nova Expedition (1910–1913) and the Discovery Investigations of the 1920s and 1930s.
Pierre André Latreille (November 20, 1762 – February 6, 1833) was a French zoologist, specialising in arthropods. Latreille was born illegitimately on November 29, 1762 in the town of Brive, then in the province of Limousin. Having trained as a Roman Catholic priest before the French Revolution, Latreille was imprisoned after the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, and only regained his freedom after recognising a rare species he found in the prison, Necrobia ruficollis.

He published his first important work in 1796 (Précis des caractères génériques des insectes), and was eventually employed by the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. His foresighted work on arthropod systematics and taxonomy, using all available characters and rejecting anthropocentrism and teleology, gained him respect and accolades. He was considered the foremost entomologist of his time, and was described by one of his pupils as "the prince of entomologists". He helped found the Société entomologique de France, acting as honorary president, and was honoured by having dozens of species and genera named after him.


Michèle de Saint Laurent (December 9, 1926 – July 11, 2003) was a French carcinologist. She was born on December 9, 1926 at Fontainebleau, near Paris. She studied general biology at the University of Paris under Pierre-Paul Grassé, earning her Diplôme de Licence in 1954. She started undertaking scientific research even before finishing her degree, and the resulting paper brought her into contact with staff at the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle in Paris. From 1955 until 1960, she worked at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), at their laboratory at Banyuls-sur-Mer; thereafter, she returned to the Paris museum.

The first major focus of Michèle de Saint Laurent's work was the systematics of hermit crabs. She also investigated other decapod crustaceans, particularly the Thalassinidea. As a result of this work, she was invited in 1974 to visit the Smithsonian Institution and was given an unidentified specimen which had been caught by the Albatross expedition in 1908. She and Jacques Forest realised that it represented a living relative of the Glypheoidea, a group previously thought to have been extinct since the Eocene. They described the new genus together in 1975, as Neoglyphea. De Saint Laurent's later work included a new classification of crabs (involving the recognition of a new section, Eubrachyura), and three new superfamilies (Axioidea, Enoplometopoidea and Retroplumoidea), as well as various works on the decapods of hydrothermal vents.


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