Friday, 23 March 2012

PhD week 3: Francis Polkinghorne Pascoe

Taxonomy has had a long history, with the current system of naming organisms being proposed by Carolus Linnaeus in 1758. As you can imagine, the task of naming the world's biodiversity has engaged a large number of people throughout the past 250 years. As part of the process of identifying species and describing new ones, we come across the names of the people who have gone before and worked on the same creatures. Learning more about the lives of these people can serve practical ends, such as resolving when and where specimens may have originated from. Often though, it is simply very satisfying to learn more about the people who have been fascinated by the same subject, and makes one feel part of a story with a past and a future.

Francis Polkinghorne Pascoe
Portrait of Francis P Pascoe. Courtesy of the Royal Entomological Society via Zimmerman (1994).

Francis Polkinghorne Pascoe (1813–1893) was an English entomologist who was originally trained in the medical profession and served in the British Navy for a time, and travelled widely during this time. He returned to England and got married. It proved to be a tragically short marriage, and upon his wife's death in 1851 he devoted himself to natural history, focusing particularly on the taxonomy of beetles. He was fairly broad in this work, though he made particularly important contributions on the longhorn beetles and the weevils; and the fauna of Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. He was made a fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, and was president of that prestigous organisation for a time.

He described a number of the genera of New Zealand weevils. Most importantly for me, he described Irenimus and its type species, Irenimus parilis. This species is important as it fixes the identity of the genus to those species that are similar to it. It will be an important addition to my collection.

Zimmerman EC. 1993. Australian Weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionoidea). Volume III - Nanophyidae, Rhynchophoridae, Erirhinidae, Curculionidae: Amycterinae, Literature consulted. CSIRO, Australia

Deans AR, Yoder MJ, Balhoff JP. 2012. Time to change how we describe biodiversity. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 27(2): 78-84

Wilkins JS. 2009. Defining Species. A Sourcebook from Antiquity to Today. Peter Lang, New York

McCulloch D. 2010. A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years London: Penguin

Kirkpatrick R. 2008. Dark Heart. Sydney: Voyager

Psalms 22–27; 1 Corinthians 13

Open DELTA project

Jon Chui—Pictoral guide to interpreting IR spectra

How to Interpret Near Infrared Spectra for a Variety of Applications—McMurdo Sound's toothfish population at risk—A helping hand for Hutton's shearwater

Tetepare: The last wild island

Rvd Dr John Polkinghorne—An introduction to the science and religion dialogue (mp3 file)

Blindside—With Shivering Hearts We Wait

Alaskan Audubon Society—Godwit Migration

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