Tilly Edinger vs. the Nazis. | Letters from Gondwana.

“Tilly” Edinger was born on November 13, 1897, in Frankfurt, Germany. She was the youngest daughter of the eminent neurologist Ludwig Edinger and Dora Goldschmidt, a leading social advocate and acti…

Source: Tilly Edinger vs. the Nazis. | Letters from Gondwana.

The legacy of Ernst Haeckel | Letters from Gondwana.

Ernst Haeckel and his assistant Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay, photographed in the Canary Islands in 1866. From Wikimedia Commons.

Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel was born on February 16, 1834, in Potsdam, Prussia. He wanted to be a botanist and his hero was Alexander Humboldt, but his father, a lawyer and government of…

Source: The legacy of Ernst Haeckel | Letters from Gondwana.

Forgotten women of Paleontology: Emily Dix | Letters from Gondwana.

Dr Emily Dix and her assistant Miss Elsie White.

In the 18th and 19th centuries women’s access to science was limited, and science was usually a ‘hobby’ for intelligent wealthy women. It was common for male scientists to have women assista…

Source: Forgotten women of Paleontology: Emily Dix | Letters from Gondwana.

Mary Anning and the flying dragon. | Letters from Gondwana.

The holotype specimen of Dimorphodon macronyx found by Mary Anning in 1828 (From Wikimedia Commons)

The nineteen century was the “golden age” of Geology. The Industrial Revolution ushered a period of canal digging and major quarrying operations for building stone. These activities exposed sedimen…

Source: Mary Anning and the flying dragon. | Letters from Gondwana.

Dorothea Bate: cave explorer and paleontologist. | Letters from Gondwana.

Dorothea Bate excavating in Bethlehem 1935.

During the 18th and 19th centuries women’s access to science was limited, and science was usually a ‘hobby’ for intelligent wealthy women. A good example is Barbara Hastings (1810–1858), 20th Baron…

Source: Dorothea Bate: cave explorer and paleontologist. | Letters from Gondwana.

Forgotten women of Paleontology: Erika von Hoyningen-Huene | Letters from Gondwana.

Erika von Huene at the Tuebingen University.

Erika Martha von Hoyningen-Huene was born in Tübingen, Germany, on September 30, 1905.  Descendant of a noble Baltic German family, Erika grew up in a deeply religious home. Her father,  Professor …

Source: Forgotten women of Paleontology: Erika von Hoyningen-Huene | Letters from Gondwana.

Once upon a time, there was a Dodo. | Letters from Gondwana.

Painting of the Dodo by Roelandt Savery executed in ca. 1626 and held at the NHMUK, London.

The Dodo (Raphus cucullatus Linnaeus, 1758) a giant, flightless pigeon endemic to the Mascarene island of Mauritius, became extinct just three centuries ago. As one of the earliest species to be id…

Source: Once upon a time, there was a Dodo. | Letters from Gondwana.

Darwin and the flowering plant evolution in South America.

Charles Darwin’s fascination and frustration with the evolutionary events associated with the origin and early radiation of flowering plants are legendary. In a letter to Oswald Heer, a famous Swiss botanist, and paleontologist, Darwin wrote: “the sudden appearance of so many Dicotyledons in the Upper Chalk appears to me a most perplexing phenomenon to all who believe in any form of evolution, especially to those who believe in extremely gradual evolution, to which view I know that you are strongly opposed”. Heer discussed about the early angiosperm fossil record with Darwin, in a letter dated 1 March 1875: “if we say that the…

Source: Darwin and the flowering plant evolution in South America.

Annie Montague Alexander, Naturalist and Fossil Hunter. | Letters from Gondwana.

Originally posted on Letters from Gondwana.
Annie Montague Alexander was born on December 29, 1867, in Honolulu, Hawaii. She was the oldest daughter of Samuel Thomas Alexander and Martha Cooke. Both of her parents were the children of missionaries from New England who had come to the Hawaiian Archipelago in 1832. Her father pioneered in the raising of sugar cane on Maui, and founder of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., one of the biggest companies in Hawaii.

Annie was educated at home by a governess until age fourteen, when she attended Punahou School in Honolulu for one year. In 1882, she moved with her family to Oakland, California. In the fall of 1887, she attended the Lasell Seminary for Young Women, a junior college in Auburndale, Massachusetts. At Lasell, she would join a close childhood friend from Maui, Mary Beckwith. During the two years she spent there she not enrolled in any science classes but studied nineteenth-century history, political economy, civil government, German, French, logic, dress cutting, and photography. Shortly after, she started to study painting in Paris. Unfortunately she began to suffer severe headaches after long hours at the easel and was warned of the possibility of blindness. Later, she enrolled in a training program for…

Source: Annie Montague Alexander, Naturalist and Fossil Hunter. | Letters from Gondwana.

Remembering Mary Anning.

Letters from Gondwana.

BECHE_Mary_Annings Sketch of Mary Anning by Henry De la Beche. From Wikimedia Commons.

Mary Anning, ‘the greatest fossilist the world ever knew’, died of breast cancer on 9 March, 1847, at the age of 47. She was buried in the cemetery of St. Michaels. In the last decade of her life, Mary received  three accolades. The first was an annuity of £25, in return for her many contributions to the science of geology. The second was in 1846, when the geologists of the Geological Society of London organized a further subscription for her. The third accolade was her election, in July 1846, as the first Honorary Member of the new Dorset County Museum in Dorchester (Torrens, 1995). After her death, Henry de la Beche, Director of the Geological Survey and President of the Geological Society of London, wrote a very affectionate obituary published in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society on February…

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