Tag Archives: biohistory

New edition of ‘2400 years’

Eugene Coan and Alan Kabat have recently published an update of their index to biographical and bibliographical works on malacologists. The main text has been updated with new information, as well as Annex 1 (collations of books); the other two annexes have not changed.

The download page may be here: http://www.malacological.org/2004_malacology.html.

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Just published: Crosse correspondence

My last paper this year deals with the correspondence of Hippolyte Crosse, managing director of the Journal de conchyliologie from 1861 till 1898. This archive contains nearly 3000 letters from 391 natural persons. We have listed all correspondents and provided examples of their handwriting of many persons, as well of photographs as far as these were available.

This archive is a rich source of information, which already has partly been studied in papers earlier this year, but much still waits for further research. The paper is available through the link on my publications page.

Reference:
Breure, A.S.H. & Audibert, C., 2017. ‘Mon cher Directeur’: an inventory of the correspondence addressed to Hippolyte Crosse during his years as director of the ‘Journal de conchyliologie’. – Folia conchyliologica, 44: 3-108.

Morelet and the Neotropics

Arthur Morelet (1809-1892) was a French amateur malacologist who has contributed much to malacology (nearly 100 publications, describing more than 700 taxa). He was one of the first malacologists who personally went on expedition to the Neotropics; a trip lasting more than a year during 1846-1848 which yielded nearly 150 new species collected on Cuba, and in Mexico and Guatemala. A few of these are illustrated below (scale: 5 mm).

The advantage of collecting in an unexplored area is indeed the reward to find many species new to science. But the legend above also shows one of the problems (possibly one of the least!) which Morelet faced: there was no Zoological Record or BHL mid-19th century, so there was a chance of introducing a name already used by someone else. Nevertheless, about 2/3 of the species described by Morelet from this expedition are still bearing his author name today.

In the 19th century not every author was able to give precise type localities; often they had to rely on information given by field collectors. So another advantage of collecting your own material: you knew where it had be found. Morelet, in many cases, gave (relatively) good locality data, but still described a number of species with a (relatively) imprecise locality; like “sylvis provinciae Vera-Paz”, a huge area.

As I had come across Morelet and his material for quite some years, I decided it was time to make an in-depth study of this man and his contributions to malacology. Since much of his type material has ended up in the London museum, Jonathan Ablett was willing to join me in this effort. And after more than 200 letters of Morelet became available, Cédric Audibert (Lyon) joined in as well. Together we are busy preparing a bio-bibliography with a list of taxa, illustrated with type material of as much taxa as possible. The transcription and translation of his correspondence will make it possible for the reader to get a much better idea of the life of a malacologist during the late 19th century. Currently we have located about 80% of his type material in several European and some American museums. The remaining taxa will be illustrated with reporductions from the original figures if these are available. Since Morelet started his career as a draftsman, he always paid special attention to the illustration of his papers.

To my surprise nobody has made an attempt to reconstruct the expedition of Morelet to the Neotropics, which brought him not only to the three countries mentioned above but also in Belize. Morelet was not only gifted with a special interest in malacology, but also in history and literature; his library had many travel accounts on its shelves. As Central America was largely unexplored in the 1840s, he published a few years after his taxonomic descriptions also a travel account of his own journey, aimed to a larger public, with many details on the geography and history of the areas visited. These two books allowed me, with some close reading, to reconstruct his trip.

One of the interesting things I discovered was the description of some species from areas, e.g. from eastern Cuba, which he apparently never visited. González Guillén (2014: 147) assumed that Morelet had confused the habours where his ship landed in eastern Cuba. However, from Morelet’s travel account it is clear that he never visited eastern Cuba. He must therefore have received the material from this area, on which he based his descriptions, from another person.

Our monograph is scheduled to appear during Spring 2018 as a book published by the Netherlands Malacological Society. The figures have been taken from a preliminary study which was just published (Breure, 2017).

References:
Breure, A.S.H., 2017. Een expeditie naar de Neotropen: reconstructie van Arthur Morelet’s reis naar Centraal Amerika, 1846-1848. – Spirula, 411: 4-11.[Dutch]
González Guillén, A., 2014. Polymita, the most beautiful land snail of the world. – [Miami]: Estévez & Associates, 359 pp.

New paper

This weekend a new paper was published related to the history of Neotropical malacology. It deals with three Polish naturalists who either collected in the Neotropics (Jelski, Stolczman) or received their material and published about it (Lubomirski).

Schermafbeelding 2017-04-02 om 08.48.45

The paper originated during my visit to Warschau in 2015, where I studied the Lubomirski collection. As we decided for the Archives of Natural History, we quickly learned that they would not publish to the underpinning data. These lists of new taxa and eponyms of the three persons is now available in an unabridged version at ResearchGate.

 

New preprint on science networks

Reconstructing historical science networks can be important for understanding the context of the historical core collection in natural history museums. For the reconstruction of such networks up till now one has to rely on correspondence between scientists in archives. These archives are very scarce and often have been lost or destroyed in the past. In taxonomy a proxy may be available in the form of new taxa described as eponyms for contacts of an author. This has been tested with some malacologists from the 19th/early 20th century for which data on their contacts are available, either as correspondence archive or by a re-construction of their network from different sources.

The resulting paper was just published as a preprint:

schermafbeelding-2016-11-11-om-07-30-42

Link: https://peerj.com/preprints/2587

New paper published

Dautzenberg again! After my paper on the autographs in the Dautzenberg archives, a second paper on this malacologist was published yesterday. It is based on Dautzenberg’s reprint administration, which allowed a reconstruction of his contacts network and an analysis with regards to different aspects; one of these was the ‘status’ of each person (‘amateur’, ‘professional’ or ‘dealer’).

schermafbeelding-2016-10-09-om-08-24-35

The paper was published in a special number of Basteria, dedicated to Rob M. Moolenbeek.

New paper published

Freshly pressed (but in bytes only): a new paper on the drawings of Vietnames land- and freshwater snails that was found in the Bavay archive, and the person who initiated this.

schermafbeelding-2016-09-25-om-11-42-10

We have added biographical data and a list of eponyms of Victor Demange, who was a contact of Bavay.

Reference:
Breure, A.S.H. & Ablett, J.D. The ‘Demange drawings’: known and unknown malacological contributions of Victor Demange (1870-1940). — Folia conchyliologica 36: 1–9. 95_demange