Category Archives: Biographical data

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.

Sikora: an Austrian dealer based in Reunion

Franz Sikora (1863–1902) was an Austrian collector and dealer.

He was born on 12 January 1863 in Stockerau, near Vienna, Austria. As a youngster, he left Austria for Africa, where he married with Marie Amalie Teia in Zanzibar and moved to Reunion with his family. He explored Reunion island (Cilaos, Saint-Leu etc.) and collected many zoological specimens which he sold to different buyers in Europe.

During seven years from end of 1880s, he was entrusted with a scientifical mission by the Austrian gouverment; he lived in Antananarivo or Tananarive (Madagascar) and he frequented the Protestant mission based in Andrangoloaka (Battistini & Richard-V., 1972) from where he brought back important collects (insects, plants, shells…). After Beolens et al. (2011): “he discovered some remains of giant lemurs and early human settlers at Andrahomana Cave, Madagascar (1899)”. He was in contact with Alfred Grandidier (1836-1921), a great naturalist who explored Madagascar as nobody else (His Histoire physique, naturelle et politique de Madagascar count ab. 30 vol.). We know that Sikora took many photographs of plants, and several photographs were given to Grandidier (e.g. the plant Pachypodium ramosum wlas described on a specimen of Grandidier and on a photograph that Sikora who had given him) and conserved in his herbarium (MNHN). Some photographs taken by Sikora are present in the photographic library Grandidier in ORSTOM (Feller & Sandron, 2010).

After his stay in Tananarive, he moved to Fort-Dauphin before returning to Reunion until his death.

He worked with some museums (e.g., Wien, MNHN, BMNH, Turin). Various animals, vertebrates and invertebrates, were named after him; included two molluscs: Ampelita sikorae Ancey, 1890 and Cyclostoma sikorae Fulton, 1901.


Example of publicity in the Feuille des Jeunes Naturalistes

He died in Reunion Island in May 1902, but the day and the locality seemed unknown until now. The Ultramarine Archives (ANOM) on line allowed to find these information, in searching for each municipality one after the other! It appeares he died on 23 May 1902 in La Plaine-des-Palmistes (Reunion Isl.). The act is written in French, the name is francized: François Sikora. We learn also he was in resort since two years in this municipality and was known there as naturalist.


Click to access Siebenrock_Friedrich_ex_Zapfe.pdf

Lacroix M. “Hannetons”. (consulted in 2016)

Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M. 2011. The eponym dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1–296 (Sikora: p. 243).
Battistini R., Richard-Vindard G. 1972. Biogeography and Ecology in Madagascar. The Hague, Springer-Science, 765 p.
Feller C., Sandron F. 2010. Parcours de recherche à Madagascar. L’IRD-Orstom et ses partenaires.Marseille, IRD, 424 p.

Miot: bio, collection

Henri (or Henry) Calixte Miot (1841-1938) was linked by his family ties to the Diderot family, and hence to the famous encyclopedist Diderot. He was born on 3 June 1841 in Langres (France, Haute-Marne) in a family of lawyers. His major commitment in his career was about justice, and also the protection of animals. In particular he wrote a little book on the legal implementation of animal protection (domestic animals mistreated) (Miot, 1870b). Member of the Société protectrice des Animaux, he was convinced (just as Duméril) that the birds, the reptiles and the insects were useful to regulate the populations of the insect pests, and that we need to protect them (Miot, 1870a).

Settled in the surroundings of Dijon, he was in the magistracy as substitute for the Imperial Prosecutor in Semur-en-Auxois (France, Côte-d’Or), and later as investigating judge in Beaune. He was also a great collector. We know in particular that he was interested in philately [1] and in bibliophily. In natural sciences, he was interested in entomology, geology and malacology. His collection is housed in the geological collections of the University of Burgundy (UBG).


It consists of seven drawers exclusively dedicated to Unionid shells, with some Cyclas and Corbicula species (233 lots). The material originates from North America (United States and Canada), Africa and Middle-East (Gabon, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq) and Europa (Spain, France and Italy). The majority of the specimens is from France, and their provenance shows they originate from the Drouët collection. Henri Drouët (1829-1900) was an administrator and a famous conchologist specialized in the Unionidae family, living in Troyes before moving to Dijon. The two persons were in close connection but probably only at the end of Drouët’s life. He mentioned him for the first time in 1898 in Unionidés du Bassin de la Seine, and probably he did not have time to give him an eponym. Besides Drouët, some other collectors appears in the provenance data of his collection, such as Léon Provancher (1820-1892) and Mr. Pétot.





I thank Mrs. Monique Léquy for the information kindly provided.
[2] Provided by courtesy of Guy Peaudecerf. Henri Miot
Ex libris & collectis. C. Audibert, private collection.
Signature in a dedication inside a book (British Museum)

Audibert C, Thomas J. 2014. Une autre collection de mulettes de Drouët à l’université de Bourgogne : la collection “Henri Miot”. Folia Conchyliologica 27: 4–7.
Miot H. 1870a. Les insectes auxiliaires et les insectes utiles. Paris: Librairie agricole, 1–101.
Miot H. 1870b.
De la répression des mauvais traitements exercé envers les animaux domestiques. Commentaire de la loi des 2-9 juillet 1850 (loi Grammont). Paris: Librairie agricole, 1–24, 1 pl.

Humblot: collector

Léon Joseph Henry Humblot (1852–1914) was a French naturalist and botanical collector. He worked as a gardener for the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle in Paris, then in 1878 embarked on a research trip to Madagascar, where he set up an experimental garden and collected orchid species. In 1884 he entered the Comoros Islands as part of a geographical survey conducted by the natural history museum. In 1885 he procured the signature of a treaty with the Sultan of Bambao, thus establishing a basis for a “Grande Comore protectorate”. During the following year, the French had overall rule of the Comoros (Grande Comore, Anjouan, Mayotte and Moheli islands) [1].

Humblot [2]

Although he mainly collected botanical specimens, he also collected snails on the islands and these were identified by Arthur Morelet, who published two papers on the results (Morelet, 1886, 1888). He named three species after him: Otopoma humbloti Morelet, 1886 (fig. 4); Ennea humbloti Morelet, 1886 (fig. 2); Bulimus humbloti Morelet, 1888.


Morelet A. 1886. Malacologie des Comores (4e article). Récolte de M. Humblot à la Grande Comore. Journal de Conchyliologie 33:288–301.
Morelet A. 1888. Malacologie des Comores (Cinquième article). Deuxième voyage de M. Humblot. Journal de Conchyliologie 35:281–291.

[2] Léon Humblot à la Grande Comore

Welwitsch: collector

Arthur Morelet (1809–1892) started his malacological career with a privately funded collecting trip to Portugal (Morelet, 1845). He visited the natural history museum in Lisbon, which he described as “je ne sais trop dans quels termes en parler; un Français aurait mauvaise grâce à critiquer la pauvreté de cet établissement (…) est plutôt un musée de parade qu’une collection scientifique”. So he clearly was not impressed at all with the state of affairs in natural history. Nevertheless he also met with “M. Frédéric Wolwich, directeur du jardin botanique de Lisbonne, [who] a mis généreusement à ma disposition les matériaux qu’il avait recueillis dans les environs de cette capitale”. He named a freshwater mussel after him, Unio wolwichi.
In 1867 he published a large paper on molluscs from Angola collected by “Dr Friederich Welwitsch” and dedicated several new species to him.

These seemingly unrelated persons appeared to be one and the same when I looked up biographical data of the latter. Friedrich Martin Josef Welwitsch (1806–1872) was born in Austria and studied medicine and botany in Vienna. He worked a few years as physician but abandoned in 1839 the medical profession altogether. With the financial aid of a Württemberg botanical association Welwitsch travelled to Portugal where he became the director of the botanical gardens. His claim to fame came when with the further support of the Portuguese agent of the Württemberg botanical society he did research on the Canary Islands, on Madeira, and, in the interest of the Portuguese government, from 1853 in Angola, then a Portuguese colony. After eight strenuous years of exploring and collecting, Welwitsch returned to Portugal in 1861. Because of better working conditions, he went to London in 1863. There, he worked at first at the Natural History Museum and later at the Kew Gardens, categorising and cataloguing its enormous collection.


Apparently Morelet and Welwitsch kept in contact after they met in Lisbon, and Welwitsch trusted to him the malacological collection he made during his stay in Angola. This is still an important paper about the Angolan non-marine fauna.

Morelet A. 1845. Description des mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles du Portugal. Paris: Baillière, i–vii + 1–415.
Morelet A. 1867. Voyage du Dr Friederich Welwitsch exécuté par ordre du Gouvernement Portugais dans les royaumes d’Angola et de Benguella (Afrique équinoxiale). Mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles. Paris/London/New York: Baillière et fils, 1–102.


General de Lamothe: collection and collectors

General Léon de Lamothe (1849–1936) is a French geologist and malacologist whose collections are housed in Muséum d’Histoire naturelle in Grenoble. He brought together a large collection, building upon his father’s collection. Benjamin de Lamothe (1799–1884) was a colonel and we know he had collected molluscs himself, as evidenced by some labels (“collection de mon père et recueilli par lui”). This collection contained a few hundreds lots of specimens. His son Léon increased this collection by collecting especially in Algeria, when he was there in garrison during the 1910s. With an important network of conchologists, he practiced exchanges and purchases to constitute a worlwide collection that contained both marine and continental, with local and exotical species. L. de Lamothe worked in close cooperation with Philippe Dautzenberg (1849–1935), the most frequent name who appears in his collection. Dautzenberg gave him (or exchanged with him) many specimens, identified his samples and validated them before publication (e.g.: de Lamothe published some catalogues for the Algerian malacofauna, in particular Arzew and Mostaganem).


Another important collaborator of de Lamothe was the Commandant L. Morlet (1823–1892) who provided him with many exotical species.
The names of many other collectors can also be found in his collection: General Léon de Beylié (1849–1910), a patron for Musée de Grenoble (ethnology and archeology), Captain Le Chatelier, Marquis de Monterosato, Henri Gouin, Chaper, Darbois, Flamand, Sowerby, Newcombe, Smith, etc. He purchased molluscs from Vigné, Géret and most of all, Boulanger. Ancey is mentioned as a persons who performed the determinations. Finally a large serie of molluscs came from the Gruvel mission in 1909–1910 (with Chudeau along the coast of the West African) and another from “Germain’s mission in 1907” (probably the mission of Chudeau in Lake Chad).

[1] Annotated copy of L. de Lamothe’s work about marine malacology in MHNGr.