Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Osborn, Henry Fairfield (United States
vertebrate paleontology, museology
|Photo courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History.
|Henry Fairfield Osborn was the leader of the American
Museum of Natural History for a quarter of a century, and to him must
go the lion's share of the credit for its movement into the limelight
during that period as the world's top such institution. Osborn was also
a professor at Columbia and head of the vertebrate paleontology department
at the AMNH for many years. Further, he was a world-renowned vertebrate
paleontologist who published nearly a thousand works and well over ten
thousand pages of writings. Osborn had a bent for theorizing, especially
when it came to evolution: he was not a fan of natural selection, preferring
to recognize various "laws," mostly of morphological trends, that were
based on his paleontological investigations. At the same time, he distrusted
experimental approaches, or the advances being made in genetics. He was
not considered a good taxonomist (many of the names he applied have since
been overturned), and had some strange views in the direction of eugenics.
Still, for all these foibles he was a force to be reckoned with, both
as a synthesizer of information and popularizer of same, and as a progressive
--born in Fairfield, Connecticut, on 8 August 1857.
--1873: enters Princeton University
--1877: A.B., Princeton University
--1877, 1878: takes part in field expeditions to Wyoming; meets E. D.
--1879-1880: studies at Cambridge University under Huxley and Balfour;
--1881: Sc.D., Princeton University
--1881-1890: assistant professor of natural sciences and comparative anatomy,
--1891-1910: Da Costa professor of biology/zoology; curator of the department
of vertebrate paleontology, American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)
--1892-1895: dean of the faculty of pure science, Columbia University
--1894: publishes his From
the Greeks to Darwin
--1898-1899: president, New York Academy of Sciences
--1908-1933: president, AMNH
--1909-1924: president of the New York Zoological Society
--1910: publishes his The
Age of Mammals in Europe, Asia and North America
--1915: publishes his Men of the Old Stone Age
--1917: publishes his The
Origin and Evolution of Life
--1918: receives the Darwin medal of the Royal Society of London
--1921: receives the medal of the Pasteur Institute of Paris
--1926: awarded the Wollaston medal of the Geological Society of London
--1928: president, A.A.A.S.
--dies at Garrison-on-Hudson, New York, on 6 November 1935.
--1936-1942: posthumously publishes his Proboscidea.
A Monograph of the Discovery, Evolution, Migration and Extinction of the
Mastodonts and Elephants of the World, in two volumes
--Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences
(U.S.A.), Vol. 19 (1938).
--American National Biography, Vol. 16 (1999).
--Bios, Vol. 7(1) (1936): 4-24.
--Obituary Notices of
Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol. 2 (1936): 67-71.
--Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and
--National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 26 (1937).
--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 10 (1974).
--An Agenda for Antiquity: Henry Fairfield Osborn & Vertebrate
Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, 1890-1935
--Henry Fairfield Osborn: Race, and the Search for the Origins of
Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights
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