Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Fleming, John (Scotland 1785-1857)
zoology, geology

Fleming was ordained as a minister in 1808 and practiced his pastoral duties both directly and as a teacher for most of his adult life, but he especially made his professional mark as a naturalist, by 1815 rising to the top rank in Scotland as a zoologist. An early geological uniformitarian and anti-catastrophist free-thinker, he was nevertheless not a transmutationist and preferred the investigation of ways to reconcile theology with natural science. His A History of British Animals covered not only living but fossil species, and in general his defenses of the argument that climatic regimes changed, and that the extinct species of particular areas may have flourished under rather different environmental conditions than extant ones, was an important philosophical advance for the study of animal distribution.

Life Chronology

--born near Bathgate, Linlithgowshire, Scotland, on 10 January 1785.
--1805: completes studies at the University of Edinburgh
--1806: receives license as a minister in the Church of Scotland; appointed to the parish of Bressay, Scotland, and ordained there 1808
--1808-1834: serves as minister in various parishes
--1808: co-founding member of the Wernerian Society of Edinburgh
--1814: D.D., St. Andrews University, Scotland
--1814: made a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
--1822: publishes his The Philosophy of Zoology
--1824-1826: famous controversy with William Buckland on the deluge, as described by the Bible
--1828: publishes his History of British Animals
--1831: is the first to recognize fossilized fish remains in the Old Red Sandstone units at Fife
--1834: takes the chair of natural philosophy at University and King's College, Aberdeen
--1843: joins the Free Church of Scotland
--1845: made professor of natural science at New College (Free Church), Edinburgh
--1851: publishes his The Temperature of the Seasons, and Its Influence on Inorganic Objects, and on Plants and Animals
--dies at Edinburgh, Scotland, on 18 November 1857.

For Additional Information, See:

--Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 20 (2004).
--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 5 (1972).
--From Linnaeus to Darwin: Commentaries on the History of Biology and Geology (1985): 129-140.
--British Journal for the History of Science, Vol. 40(2) (2007): 205-225.

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Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.

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