Investigators of animal behavior since the eighteenth century have sought to make their work integral to the enterprises of natural history and/or the life sciences. In their efforts to do so, they have frequently based their claims of authority on the advantages offered by the special places where they have conducted their research. The zoo, the laboratory, and the field have been major settings for animal behavior studies. The issue of the relative advantages of these different sites has been a (...) persistent one in the history of animal behavior studies up to and including the work of the ethologists of the twentieth century. (shrink)
When the Muséum d’histoire naturelle in Paris learned in 1836 that it had the chance to buy a live, young orangutan, it was excited by the prospect. Specimens were the focus of the Museum’s activities, and this particular specimen seemed especially promising, not only because the Museum had very few orangutan specimens in its collection, but also because of what was perceived to be the orangutan’s unique place in the natural order of things, namely, at the very boundary between the (...) animal kingdom and humans. Frédéric Cuvier, the superintendent of the Museum’s menagerie, urged that studying the orangutan’s mental faculties would help resolve fundamental questions regarding the similarities and differences between animals and humans. Archival and printed sources allow one to reconstruct the orangutan’s capture, acquisition, and subsequent career at the menagerie in greater detail than has generally been possible for animals of nineteenth-century zoos. Scientists, artists, the public, the press, and even musicians sought to engage with the orangutan, seeing in it not just another ape or monkey but a special creature unto itself at the animal/human boundary. Key to their fascination with the orangutan was the question of proximity—just how close was the orangutan to humans? The orangutan’s story illuminates not only how the animal-human boundary was conceived at the time but also the problematic status of the zoo as a site for scientific research and the roles of scientific and non-scientific actors alike in constructing how the orangutan was understood. (shrink)
Just as biologists have their favored places for doing research, so do historians. As someone who likes working in archives, the most surprising thing the present author ever found was a particular letter that had been written to him by the ethologist Niko Tinbergen—but that Tinbergen had never sent. The letter included a detailed critique of the intellectual style and conceptual shortcomings of Tinbergen’s career-long friend and colleague Konrad Lorenz. The present author first saw the letter 3 years after Tinbergen’s (...) death and 10 years after the letter was composed. Here we discuss the contents and historical context of that letter. (shrink)
French naturalists at the Muséum Nationale d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris in the early nineteenth century recognized that their individual and collective successes were intimately linked to questions of power over specimens. France’s strength abroad affected the growth of the museum’s collections. At the museum, preserving, naming, classifying, displaying, interpreting, and otherwise deploying specimens went hand in hand with promoting scientific theories, advancing scientific careers, and instructing the public. The control of specimens, both literally and figuratively, was the museum’s ongoing concern. (...) The leopard in this essay’s title, a live specimen confiscated from the streets of Paris in 1793, serves here to represent the tensions created in an existing order of things by the introduction of a potentially disruptive agent. The essay explores the life of the museum and the interrelations among its naturalists, the special challenges created by the establishment of a menagerie, and the histories of particular specimens and ideas. (shrink)
Ernst Mayr''s historical writings began in 1935 with his essay Bernard Altum and the territory theory and have continued up through his monumentalGrowth of Biological Thought (1982) and hisOne Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought (1991). Sweeping in their scope, forceful in their interpretation, enlisted on behalf of the clarification of modern concepts and of a broad view of biology, these writings provide both insights and challenges for the historian of biology. Mayr''s general intellectual formation (...) was guided by the GermanBildung ideal, with its emphasis on synthetic and comprehensive knowledge. His understanding of how to write history was inspired further by the example of the historian of ideas Arthur Lovejoy. Some strengths and limitations of this approach are explored here through attention to Mayr''s treatment of the French biologist J.-B. Lamarck. It is contended that Mayr''s contributions to the history of biology are not restricted to his own very substantial historical writings but also include his encouragement of other scholars, his development of an invaluable archive of scientific correspondence, and his insistence that historians who write about evolution and related subjects acquire an adequate understanding of the principles of Darwinian biology. (shrink)
On the basis of critical discussions which have taken place in recent years in the Federal Republic of Germany, certain methodological, ethical and legal problems arising in relation to controlled trials are discussed. Because of methodological inconsistencies inherent in the experimental approach, the efficacy of a drug must in any case be judged by physicians. This leads to major ethical and even--at least in Germany--legal problems which impose considerable limits on the feasibility of controlled trials in Germany. Editor's note: This (...) paper is written at the invitation of the journal, following the considerable controversy on the ethics of clinical trials in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (8-11). A critical commentary follows the paper with a short response from the authors and a further response from the commentator. (shrink)
D. Boulanger. Colloque Lamarck Paris, Vrin, 1980 EVOLUTION DU GROUPE DES NUMMULITES C'est en 1801 que Lamarck dans son Système des animaux sans vertèbres proposa le genre Nummulites qu'il considéra comme le 89e des ...