Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
The early death of G. K. Noble robbed herpetology of the talents of an individual who might otherwise have been destined to become its greatest twentieth century figure. Industrious and focused, Noble was a rarity among naturalists: a man who was equally adept as a field worker, taxonomist, experimentalist, and science administrator. His Ph.D. dissertation, published as The Phylogeny of the Salientia in 1922, showed that he well understood how to draw evolutionary conclusions from body structure; in 1931 he expanded on this start with his classic book The Biology of the Amphibia, which quickly became the standard overall work on these animals. Noble took an early interest in animal behavior--of birds, lizards, snakes and fish as well as amphibians--and explored this subject in depth through a combination of field studies and laboratory-based experimental work. In the latter arena he became a pioneer, linking behavior to physiology, endocrinology, and neurology. Meanwhile, he was serving as the curator of herpetology at the American Museum of Natural History, supporting the efforts of others; his collaborations included work on materials collected in, among other places, Peru, the Belgian Congo, Colombia, and Nicaragua. Noble's stature as an experimentalist enabled him to convince the American Museum of Natural History to open up a new experimental biology department; he became curator there while maintaining his curatorship of herpetology. Noble became a central figure in a notorious event in the history of evolutionary biology when in 1926 he debunked Paul Kammerer's claims of having induced newly inheritable traits in lab animals: the famous "midwife toad incident."
--born in Yonkers, New York, on 20 September 1894.
For Additional Information, See:
--National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol.31 (1944).
Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights