Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Thomson, C(harles) Wyville (Scotland
oceanography, natural history
Thomson rose rapidly through the ranks despite never
completing a college degree, eventually securing the chair of natural
history at the University of Edinburgh (he was also elected to the Royal
Society at the young age of thirty-nine, and knighted at forty-six). He
had rather wide interests early on, but eventually came to concentrate
on the study of marine invertebrates. Several deep sea dredging operations
he involved himself with circa 1868-1870 produced striking results (including
disproving Edward Forbes's theory that the deep oceans were lifeless),
and he was able to secure larger-scale funding for what became known as
the Challenger expedition. This yielded a cornucopia of specimens
and data that kept an army of specialists busy for nearly twenty years;
Thomson himself, however, had already lost his health to the experience
and died long before most of the results were published (he was forced
to delegate responsibility for seeing everything through to his assistant,
John Murray). Thomson, along with Murray, deserve recognition as the founders
of modern deep-sea oceanographic studies.
--born in Bonsyde, Linlithgow, Scotland, on 5 March
--1845-1848: studies medicine at the University of Edinburgh
--1850-1851: lecturer in botany, University of Aberdeen
--1853: made professor of natural history at Queen's College, Cork
--1854-1862: professor of mineralogy and geology, Queen's College, Belfast
--1862: made professor of natural history at Queen's College, Belfast
--1868, 1869, 1870: involved in dredging cruises around the British Isles
--1868-1869: professor of botany, Royal College of Science, Dublin
--1869: made a fellow of the Royal Society of London
--1870-1882: chair of natural history, University of Edinburgh
--1872: appointed scientific director for the H. M. S. Challenger
--1872-1876: oversees operations on the Challenger expedition
--1873: publishes his The
Depths of the Sea, with W. B. Carpenter and J. G. Jeffreys
--1877-1878: publishes his The
Voyage of the "Challenger": The Atlantic, in two volumes
--1878: honorary LL.D, Trinity College
--dies at Bonsyde, Linlithgow, Scotland, on 10 March 1882.
--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol.
--Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 54 (2004).
and Proceedings of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, Vol. 14 (1882):
--Founders of Oceanography and Their Work (1923): 37-67.
--Earth-Science Reviews, Vol. 8(2) (1972): 255-266.
Naturalist, N.S. Vol. 1 (1883-1884): 44-46.
--Journal of the History of Collections, Vol. 11 (1999): 51-70.
Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights
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