Naturalists are the individuals who are expert in natural history. They are primarily zoologists or botanists who help the people in gaining an appreciation for the natural world. They act as the link between environment and the uninformed public whom they educate about the natural world and its processes. Naturalists teach the people how human activity affects the environment, natural resources and the living beings that inhabit the earth, and also demonstrate how interested parties can protect the environment. Charles Darwin the 19th century naturalist made significant contributions to the evolutionary theory. The famous painter John James Audubon was also a naturalist who published the Birds of America. American ornithologist Florence Merriam was a pioneer in her field who campaigned against the mistreatment and unnecessary killing of birds. The prolific writer Rachel Carson was one of the first people who made people understand the evils of pollution and played a key role in the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. One very famous naturalist of our time is Jane Goodall who is not just the worlds foremost expert on chimpanzees but also the UN Messenger of Peace. This section provides you information about the life and works of various famous naturalists from all over the world.
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(Naturalist known for His Contributions to Evolutionary Biology)
The Mount House, Shrewsbury, England
Widely regarded as one of the most influential personalities in the history of mankind, Charles Darwin was an English biologist, naturalist, and geologist. He is credited with publishing theTheory of Evolution, which explains the evolution of life from a unicellular organism to human beings. A prolific writer, Charles Darwin also wrote important books on plants and barnacles.
Henry David Thoreau was an American philosopher, essayist, poet, and naturalist. He is credited with popularizing transcendentalism and simple living. His philosophy of civil disobedience, which was detailed in his essay of the same name, later influenced world-renowned personalities like Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi.
AmericanAustralian naturalist Terri Irwin is best known as the co-host ofThe Crocodile Hunter, along with her husband, the late animal expert Steve Irwin. She has also been part of shows such asCroc FilesandCrikey! Its the Irwins, and helped in the development ofAustralia Zoo.
Pliny the Elder was a Roman natural philosopher, author, and army and naval commander of the Roman Empire. His workNaturalis Historiabecame an editorial model for the present-day encyclopedias. Today, his statue greets the visitors ofCathedral of S. Maria Maggiorein his hometown, Como.
Leominster, Massachusetts, United States
Nurseryman John Chapman, better known to people as Johnny Appleseed, is remembered for introducing apple trees in areas across the American states of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois, and West Virginia. His aim as a missionary of
was to help local settlers make cider.
(Zoologist & Evolutionist Who Was a Strong Proponent of Darwinism)
Ernst Haeckel had initially practiced medicine before he gained an interest in Charles Darwins theory and began exploring zoology and related fields. He not only coined terms such asecology, but also named numerous species and created a genealogical tree. He drew numerous figures of animals and sea creatures, too.
Bob Irwin, better known to the world as the father of legendary Australian conservationist Steve Irwin, is a conservationist in his own right. Initially a plumber, he later built the Beerwah Reptile Park, which later becameAustralia Zoo. Following Steves death, he cut all ties with the zoo.
As a child, Alexander von Humboldt was sickly and a bad student. After failing to shine in economics and engineering, he grew up to revolutionize the domain of geography. He is remembered for his research on magnetic storms and his treatise on nature,Kosmos. He also spoke about climate change.
French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck acquired his love for plants while serving as a soldier in the French army. Following an injury, he quit his military career but retained his love for botany. He later taught zoology, studied the classification of invertebrates, and also coined the termbiology.
Georges Cuvier was a French zoologist and naturalist. A major figure in the early 19th centurys research of natural sciences, Cuvier played an important role in establishing the fields of comparative paleontology and anatomy by comparing fossils with living animals, for which he is sometimes regarded asthe founding father of paleontology.
British naturalist Joseph Banks is remembered for accompanying Captain James Cook on his voyage across places such as Brazil and Tahiti. He had also been the president of theRoyal Societyfor over 40 years. Both his herbarium and library now find a place at theBritish Museum.
Best known for her iconic bookBorn Free, which describes her experiences of raising a lion cub named Elsa, Joy Adamson was a noted Austro-Hungarian wildlife conservationist. She excelled in music and medicine in her younger days and later settled in Kenya with her third husband, conservationist George Adamson.
Two-timeBAFTA-winning naturalist and explorer Steve Backshall soared to fame with theBBCprogramDeadly 60. He has also worked with theDiscovery Channeland theNational Geographic Channel. He has writtenThe Falcon Chronicles, a series of childrens novels, among other books, and loves mountaineering and martial arts.
A pioneer of physical anthropology, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach laid down one of the first racial classification systems for humans after studying human skulls, dividing mankind into five racial groups. Born into a family of academics, he was a prodigy. He was against scientific racism, though his theory promoted the degenerative hypothesis.
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was a French mathematician, encyclopdiste, cosmologist, and naturalist. He is best known for authoring and publishingHistoire Naturelle, an encyclopaedic collection of 36 volumes, which he worked on for 50 years. His work had a strong influence on two subsequent generations of naturalists, including popular French scientists like Georges Cuvier and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.
British doctor Hans Sloane traveled to Jamaica as a personal physician of the 2nd duke of Albermarle and was soon engrossed in the natural species of the region. He documented his collections, and they eventually helped form theBritish Museum. He is also known as the inventor of drinking chocolate.
Called thefounder of experimental biologyandfather of modern parasitology, Italian physician, biologist, naturalist and poet Francesco Redi did the first major experiment to challenge spontaneous generation. His bookEsperienze intorno alla generazione deglinsettiincludes most of his famous experiments, while his poem bookBacco in Toscanais counted among the finest works of 17th-century Italian poetry.
Roy Chapman Andrews was an American adventurer, explorer, and naturalist. He is best remembered for his association with theAmerican Museum of Natural Historywhere he also served as the director. Andrews is credited with bringing to the museum the first-known fossil dinosaur eggs. His life and career are said to have inspired George Lucas famous character,Indiana Jones.
Born to a poor fur dealer, Conrad Gessner was sent to study under an uncle who dealt in medicinal herbs. He then studied theology but later grew up to become a Renaissance polymath, excelling in subjects such as natural history and medicine. HisBibliotheca universalisremains a major work in bibliography.
English nun Mary Ward was one of the first to show how influential women could be in the Church. Her work led to the development of theCongregation of JesusandBlessed Virgin Mary, or theLoreto Sisters. She traveled on foot all across Europe, establishing schools and was often criticized by traditionalists.
Eduard Schnitzer, or Emin Pasha, was born into a German Jewish family in modern-day Poland. A qualified physician, he moved to Constantinople after being disqualified in Germany. He not only served the Ottoman rulers but also surveyed and explored Africa extensively. He was eventually killed by Arab slave raiders.
British-Argentine author, naturalist, and ornithologist William Henry Hudson not just published a number of ornithological studies but also several novels, such asGreen Mansions. He criticized Darwinism and was inspired by Samuel Butlers writings. He was also part of theRoyal Society for the Protection of Birds.
(American childrens author and naturalist)
Sandwich, Massachusetts, United States
(Anthropologist, Politician, Archaeologist, Prehistorian, Banker, Statistician, Naturalist, Zoologist, Entomologist)
British banker John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury, better known as Sir John Lubbock, had also been an MP. However, he is best known for his contribution to ethnography and archaeology. He is also credited with coining the termsPaleolithicandNeolithic, and is known for his books on animal behavior.
Seventeenth-century German physician and traveler Engelbert Kaempfer had been on trade missions across the world, including places such as Russia, Iran, Java, and Japan. His written experiences about his stay in Japan became a valuable source of information on the flora and fauna of the country.
George Crabbe was an English surgeon, poet, and clergyman. He began his career as a doctors apprentice in the 1770s and later become a surgeon. After a few years, he pursued a living as a poet and also served as a clergyman in various capacities. He wrote poetry mainly in the form of heroic couplets. He was also a coleopterist.
Dutch naturalist Jan Swammerdam was the first to detect red blood cells. Though a qualified doctor, he never practiced medicine, and took to research instead. Known for his research on anatomy, he also revolutionized the study of insects, proving that the egg, larva, pupa, and adult are all the same organism.
Jos Bonifcio de Andrada was a Brazilian statesman. He was also a naturalist, mineralist, and professor. He was a significant proponent of Brazilian independence and also spearheaded the abolition project in Brazil. He was of the opinion that a new national capital should be created in Brazils underdeveloped interior. As a naturalist, he discovered four new minerals.