Monday, January 30, 2006

Who the Hell was Horsfield anyway...?

I expect you're wondering who Horsfield was? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway! You'll be pleased to know this is the 'potted' version.
Thomas Horsfield (1773-1859) was an American hailing from Philadelphia. He trained as a medical doctor and visited Java while in the American Navy working as a ship's surgeon. He was very taken with Java and returned there to work and pursue his interest in Natural History. He collected insects and flowers and wrote several scientific papers on the subject. Later, when Java came under the control of the British, he collected for Thomas Raffles of East India Company fame. (I was surprised to come across a statue of Raffles in the Bogor Botanical Gardens--just South of Jakarta--by the way a great place to birdwatch). I digress. In 1819, ill health caused him to travel to London, where he became keeper and curator of the East India Co.'s museum. He was a founder member and Assistant Secretary of the Zoological Society of London. There he, together with Nicholas Vigor's, classified a number of birds, including many Australian species in the Linnaean Society's collection and together wrote a paper on the subject. I'd like to think that he noticed a difference in the plumages of the bronze cuckoos and for his efforts the species was named after him, but that's conjecture. He also had a tortoise and a hawk named after him.
The wonders of the internet! Aren't you glad that's the potted version!

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