Author Archives: bramb

Heinrich Dohrn: photos

Wolfgang Ludwig Heinrich Dohrn (1838-1913) was born in northern Poland, then part of Prussia. He studied in Stettin and became especially known as malacologist and entomologist.

Through a link on the Wikipedia page we found a cryptic site [1] with photographs which are reproduced here:

The last photo is dated ‘1900’.


Season’s Greetings

Since I became so interested in networks between malacologists in the past, my Season’s Greetings for this year are devoted to this topic. Here you find the original of this card, with further context. But below is the explanation given for those who want to know if they know all these malacologists.

kn2016explanationAnd above (inverted in gray) is the answer on the question “Who is the man whose son can be seen here twice?”…

Eponyms as link: Orbigny and Dupin

Alcide d’Orbigny (1802–1857) was not only a malacologist but devoted much of his time to the study of fossils. He is well-known by his travels to South America and his voluminous paleontological works.


During an inventory of eponyms given by d’Orbigny to other persons, one of the outstanding names was ‘Dupin’, to whom not less than 32 eponyms were dedicated. In d’Orbigny (1842: 377–378) we read under the description of Conoteuthis Dupinianus “La seule espèce connue (…) a été découverte par le docteur Dupin (…) des environs d’Ervy (Aube). La science doit à cet habile observateur un très grand nombre de faits nouveaux. (…) il a réuni (…) l’énorme chiffre de 474 échantillons de Gastéropodes, dont il a bien voulu enricher ma Paléontologie française”. Indeed, d’Orbigny described many new species named after Dupin in this work (1840-1849) and in his Prodrome de paléontologie (1849-1852).

Curious to know more about Dupin, it was possible to find some data in the official journal of Dept. Aube (Anonymous, 1863). Georges Auguste Dupin finished his study medicine in Paris in 1825, and settled in Ervy-le-Châtel. Unfortunately, nothing more is known. Dupin was one of the ‘field collectors’ who trusted his material to d’Orbigny for identification.


Anonymous. 1863. Liste des médecins et officiers de Santé, dans l’ordre de leur inscription à la Préfecture de l’Aube. Annuaire administratief, statistique et commercial du département de l’Aube (1863): 222–227.
d’Orbigny, A. 1842. Mémoire sur deux genres nouveaux de Céphalopodes fossiles (les Conoteuthis et Spirulirostra) offrant des passages, d’un côté entre la Spirule et la Sèche, de l’autre entre les Bélemnites et les Ommastrèphes.  Annales des sciences naturelles (2) 17: 362–367.

Père David (1826-1900): biography, portraits

The priest Père David was born as Jean Pierre Armand David in 1826 as son of a doctor and mayor in a village in southwestern France. After his education in Bayonne he went to Paris to enter the congregation of the ‘Lazaristes’, who were missionaries in non-christian regions. Between 1850 and 1862 he was in a Lazarist cloister near Genua, where he devoted himself to natural sciences.


When in 1861 the Paris zoologist Milne-Edwards asked the cooperation of missionaries to collect animals and plants in – then still unexplored – China, the Lazarists sent Armand David to this country. Once in China he made several large expeditions; in 1866 to Mongolia, in 1868-1870 in central China and Sichuan, and in 1872-1874 in Central and Eastern China.


Probably dating from that time is the following portrait:


During the expedition a large amount of animals and plants were sent to the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris, where the material was studied and new species were described, many with an eponym after Père David (e.g. Davidia involucrata, Buddleja davidii), but of course also to other contacts of the describing author (e.g. Bulimus baudoni Deshayes, 1870).

In 1874 he returned to France, where he settled down in the headquarters of the congregation in Paris. He published on his expeditions, and also a large work on the birds of China. The following portrait was made by the photographer Ferdinand Bérillon (a malacologist himself) in Bayonne in 1884.



The back side of this photo tells the whole summary of his life…


[1] Unknown date. Le Père David.
[2] Wikipedia.
[3] BnF / Gallica.

Deshayes, GP. 1870. Diagnoses d’espèces nouvelles de mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles de la principauté de Moupin, Thibet oriental envoyées au Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris par M. l’Abbé Armand David missionaire. Bulletin des Nouvelles Archives du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris 6:19-27.

Hippolyte Mittre: an early malacologist

It is not known where and when Hippolyte Mittre was born. Mittre studied medicine, possibly in Montpellier where he defended in 1837 his thesis entitled ‘Essai sur la nostalgie’ (O’Sullivan 2012: 641). Later he became surgeon at the naval port in Toulon. From his papers it is clear that he travelled to the Caribbean and received material via others from localities overseas. He published only a few papers, but it is remarkable that he paid ample attention to the morphology of the animals. In that sense, he was one of the few malacologists among his contemporary conchologists and was ahead of his time. He died 1 January 1851 in French Guiana (Petit de la Saussaye, 1851).



His publication list is only modest and lists six papers:
1841 [March] Descriptions de quelques coquilles nouvelles. Revue zoologique par la Société Cuvierrienne (1841): 65–70.
1842 [September] Description de quatre coquilles nouvelles. Annales des sciences naturelles, Zoologie (2) 18: 188–191.
1844 Mémoire sur le genre Anatine. Magasin de Zoologie, d’Anatomie comparée et de Palentologie (2) 6: 1–18 [Mollusques Pl. 102-104].
1847 [February] Notice sur l’organisation des Galeolemma. Annales des sciences naturelles, Zoologie (3) 7: 169–181.
1850a [15 April] Notice sur le genre Cypricarde. Journal de Conchyliologie 1 (2): 125–130.
1850b [15 August] Notice sur les genres Diplodonta et Scacchia. Journal de Conchyliologie 1 (3): 238–246.

New taxa

The following new species were introduced by Mittre:

aquilinum, Cardium Mittre, 1842: 191. Type locality: la rade de Toulon (Bivalvia, Cardiidae).
brasiliensis, Diplodonta Mittre 1850b: 240. Type locality: le rade de Rio de Janeiro, dans la baie de Bon Voyage (Bivalvia, Ungulinidae).
fontenayi, Erycina Mittre, 1841: 65. Type locality: la rade de Toulon (Bivalvia, Lasaeidae).
guerinii, Physa Mittre, 1841: 68. Type locality: le Levant (Gastropoda, Physidae).
haliotidea, Succinea Mittre 1841: 65. Type locality: les environs de Fort-Royal (Martinique)(Gastropoda, Amphibulimidae).
jaumei, Auricula Mittre, 1841: 67. Type locality: aux environs de Hampton en Virginie (Gastropoda, Ellobiidae).
liautaudi, Anatina Mittre, 1844: 16, pl. 104. Type locality: Manille (Bivalvia, Laternulidae).
ludoviciana, Physa Mittre 1841: 68. Type locality: le bassin de sangsues de l’hôpital de Saint-Louis, au Sénégal (Gastropoda, Physidae).
micheli, Auricula Mittre, 1841: 66. Type locality: Toulon (Gastropoda, Ellobiidae).
minoricensis, Helix Mittre, 1842: 188. Type locality: Mahon (île Minorque) (Gastropoda, Helicidae).
nyeli, Helix Mittre, 1842: 190. Type locality: les environs de la ville de Mahon (île Minorque) (Gastropoda, Helicidae).
uniplicata, Auricula Mittre, 1841: 67. Type locality: environs de Saint-Louis, au Sénégal (Gastropoda, Ellobiidae).
telonensis, Helix Mittre 1842: 189. Type locality: les environs de Toulon, au Saint Trou, sur la montagne de Faron, etc. (Gastropoda, Helicidae).


The following taxa were named after Mittre:
Bombyx mittrei
Guérin-Méneville, 1847: 230 (Insecta, Lepidoptera).
Cephus mittrei Guérin-Méneville, 1844 [1829–1844]: 402 (Insecta, Hymenoptera).
Erodius mittrei Solier, 1834: 591 (Insecta, Coleoptera).
Nerita mittreana Récluz, 1842: 181 (Mollusca, Neritidae)
Pimelia mittrei Solier 1836: 134 (Insecta, Coleoptera).
Sepidium mittrei Solier, 1844: 228 (Insecta, Coleoptera).

The eponyms that were given to Mittre were either from malacologists (Récluz) or by entomologists for whom he collected material in northern Africa (Solier from Marseille, Guérin-Méneville from Paris).

[1] Mittre, 1844: pl. 103.


Guérin-Méneville MFE. 1829–1844. Iconographie du règne animal de G. Cuvier, ou représentation d’après nature de l’une des espèces les plus remarquables, et souvant non encore figurées, de chaque genre d’animaux. Insectes. Paris: Baillière, 1–576.
Guérin-Méneville MFE. 1847. Description d’un Bombyx nouveau découvert par M. Mittre à Nose-Bé, île de Madagascar. Revue zoologique par la Société Cuvierrienne (1847): 229–230.
Petit de la Saussaye SAA. 1851. Notice sur M. le docteur Mittre [Obituary]. Journal de Conchyliologie 2 (2): 235–236.
Récluz CA. 1842. Description de plusieurs espèces de Nérites nouvelles vivantes. Revue zoologique par la Société Cuvierrienne (1842): 177–187.
Solier AJJ. 1834. Essai d’une division des coléoptères hétéromères, et d’une monographie de la famille des Collaptèrides. Annales de la Société entomologique de France 3: 479–636.
Solier AJJ. 1836. Essai sur les Collaptèrides (Suite). Annales de la Société entomologique de France 5: 5–200.
Solier AJJ. 1844. Essai sur les Collaptèrides de la tribu des Molurites. Memorie della Reale Accademia delle scienze di Torino (2) 6: 213–339.

Malacology and its social context (3)

Of most malacologists no archival data is preserved, and especially complete correspondence archives are rare. So if one tries to reconstruct the contact network one may use a few sources; e.g., in publications often several names turn up as suppliers of material (either as field or as cabinet collectors), in the collection (if preserved) labels may point to collectors or colleagues with whom material was exchanged, and (in some rare cases) correspondence may reveal some of the contacts.

In the case of Henri Drouët (1829–1900) all three sources could be used and revealed a quite extensive contact network of more than 100 persons. The following figure gives a picture of his network, distinguished according to the following roles: malacological authors (MA), authors from other disciplines (AO), field collectors (FC), and other contacts (OT). The persons in the first three categories all received one or more eponyms.



This picture also makes clear that  eponyms may be used as a proxy for contacts of an author.

Malacology and its social context (2)

Social network analysis (SNA) is currently mainly a theme within sociology, but the study of networks has received some attention from other disciplines as well (e.g, physics). Since it is possible to build social networks from empirical data and use software to visualise the results in graphics, it becomes interesting to see if historical data relating to malacologists may be usefully applied with these methods.

An important distinction in SNA is between ‘egocentric social networks’ (hereafter ‘egonets’) and ‘whole social networks’ (hereafter ‘networks’). In the historical context we are interested in, an egonet always takes always the perspective from one person and tries to study his/her relationships. In the case of malacologists thus the relationship between malacologist A (‘ego’) and malacologist B, C, D, etc. (the ‘alter(i)’).


But this figure makes also clear that there may relationships between the alter(i). So one has to define the network boundary, or alternatively one studies a large group (of which the egonet of malacologist A is only a part); this is a ‘whole social network’ (also with a defined boundary, e.g. the European malacologists, which does not mean that alter(i) from outside Europe may not be included; it all depends on the research question).


One example of a question that one could ask is: What flows through the network from one individual to another? In a malacological network e.g., one could make a distinction in the development of contacts between two persons of the following, nested categories: (a) the exchange of questions, ideas or informal knowledge (through correspondence or meetings); (b) the exchange of material (i.c. dry shells or preserved molluscs), and (c) the exchange of formal knowledge (i.c. in publications or through reprints).

[1] Herz et al., 2016: 4/38.

Herz A, Heidler R, Gamper M, Stark M, Düring M. 2016. Erhebung von Netzwerkdaten. Syllabus 10. Trier Summer School on Social Network Analysis.