Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Romer, Alfred Sherwood (United States 1894-1973)
vertebrate anatomy & paleontology

As the ANB succinctly puts it, "Romer contributed to the advance of paleontology by applying the techniques of comparative anatomy to the study of fossils. His work shed much light on the evolution of vertebrates from sea- to land-dwelling creatures and contributed to a better understanding of the origin of the continents." In Romer's early years, both at the University of Chicago and at Harvard University, he gave particular attention to late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic tetrapods in an effort to understand evolution within the vertebrates. In this endeavor he made use both of paleontologic sources and modern-day studies in anatomy and embryology. Romer gave relatively little attention to the immediate causes of evolution, however, preferring to dwell on the patterns it produced--both morphological, and biogeographic. He was able to recognize, for example, that the geographical pattern of Permian vertebrates argued in favor of the early existence of a super-continental mass (Gondwana) that had only later broken up into pieces. Several of Romer's books were extremely successful, both as texts and as authoritative technical sources made use of by generations of professionals.

Life Chronology

--born in White Plains, New York, on 28 December 1894.
--1917: A.B., Amherst College
--1917-1919: serves in the American Field Service and U. S. Air Service
--1921: Ph.D. in zoology, Columbia University
--1923-1931: associate professor of vertebrate paleontology, University of Chicago
--1931: advanced to full professor at the University of Chicago
--1933: publishes his Vertebrate Paleontology
--1933: publishes his Man and the Vertebrates
--1934-1965: professor of zoology at Harvard University and curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology
--1940: founds and is first president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
--1944: elected to the National Academy of Sciences
--1946-1961: director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology
--1947: made Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University
--1949: publishes his The Vertebrate Body
--1952: president, Society of Systematic Zoology
--1953: president, Society for the Study of Evolution
--1956: publishes his Osteology of the Reptiles; receives the National Academy of Sciences' Thompson medal
--1959: publishes his The Vertebrate Story
--1972: receives the Medal of the Linnean Society of London
--dies at Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 5 November 1973.

For Additional Information, See:

--Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences (U.S.A.), Vol. 53 (1982).
--American National Biography, Vol. 18 (1999).
--Copeia, (1) (1974): 293-294.
--Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol. 21 (1975).
--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 18 (1990).
--Geological Society of America Memorials, Vol. 5 (1977).
--Year Book of the American Philosophical Society for 1975 (1976): 148-157.
--Science, Vol. 147(3660) (1965): pp. 891-892.

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

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