A person who deserves to be mentioned before the list of three famous zoologists is Aristotle, because it was after he wrote “History of animals” that Zoology was recognized as a field of science. The first documented person to classify animals, he divided animals into two groups on the basis of the presence of blood. Here are three zoologists who have made a significant contribution to the field:
1. Achille Valenciennes (1794-1865)
Born in Paris, Achille Valenciennes was a student of Georges Cuvier. He contributed significantly to the study of parasitology through his research on parasitic worms in the human body.
In the early days of his career, the famous zoologist got the opportunity to classify animals that Alexander von Humboldt saw in the American tropics. Valenciennes is considered the binomial authority for several fish species. He collaborated with Cuvier on the 22-volume Natural History of Fish (1828–1848) and carried on the work after Cuvier’s death in 1832.
2. Addison Emery Verrill (1839-1926)
Born in Greenwood, Maine, Addison Emery Verrill studied at Harvard with Louis Agassiz as his teacher. He was the first Zoology professor at Yale.
Between 1868 and 1870, the famous zoologist taught entomology and comparative anatomy in the University of Wisconsin. Verrill researched the Atlantic coast’s invertebrate fauna, and was considered an expert on living cephalopods, particularly colossal squids. In collaboration with S.I. Smith, he created a piece entitled Report upon the Invertebrate Animals of Vineyard Sound in 1874. This report is considered to be a standard on southern New England’s marine zoology.
Verrill also investigated Bermuda Islands’ marine animal life. His book The Bermuda Islands was published in 1903.
He has over 350 monographs and papers to his credit, and has described over a thousand animal species in nearly all major taxonomy groups.
In 1959, the Peabody Museum at Yale established an award called the Addison Emory Verrill Medal which is provided to people who achieve something in the field of natural sciences.
3. Rachel Louise Carson (1907 – 1964)
An American marine biologist and conservationist, Rachel Carson’s writings are considered to have played a vital role in the advancement of the global environmental movement. She was a biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. In the 50’s, she became a full-time nature writer. The famous zoologist is the author of The Sea Around Us, The Edge of the Sea and Under the Sea Wind.
In the late 50’s, Carson became interested in nature conservation and the environmental problems resulting from the use of synthetic pesticides. Her book Silent Spring (1962) made the American public aware of environmental issues and was unwelcomed by chemical companies. The book helped in bringing about a reversal in the U.S. pesticide policy — leading to a ban on DDT as well as other pesticides throughout the country. The book also inspired a grassroots environmental movement which resulted in the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. U.S. president Jimmy Carter posthumously awarded the famous zoologist the Presidential Medal of Freedom.