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Paz: bio, portrait


Patricio Paz y Membiela (1808–1874) was marine and military and was selected as President of the the ‘Comisión Científica del Pacifíco’ (CCP), a group of six Spanish scientists who made an expedition through many parts of South, and some of Central, America from mid-1862 till end 1865. This expedition was part of a larger military expedition to the west coast of South America under the command of the frigate “Triunfo” (Puig-Samper, 1988).


Paz travelled all over the world visiting South America three times (Barreiro 1992: 438), but apart from the visit with the CCP no dates nor itineraries of his travels are known. He formed an excellent shell collection , which probably originated from his relation with the Cuban naturalists Felipe Poey and Nicolás Gutiérrez in Matanzas and La Habana respectively. His continuous confrontations with the commandant of the “Triunfo” lead to his resignation to Queen Isabel II in 1863; he left the CCP in Callao. Once the CCP had returned to Spain, he was entrusted with Francisco de Paula Martínez the preparation of the zoological material for a public exhibition in the Botanical Garden in Madrid in 1866 (López-Ocón & Badia, 2003). After his death, his mollusc collection comprising 12,000 species and 40,000 specimens was sold to the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid (Barreiro, 1992: 437). He was befriended with Joaquin Hidalgo, who helped him with the study of the molluscs collected by the CCP.

Barreiro AJ. 1992. El Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (1771–1935). Aranjuez: Doce Calles, 509 pp.
López-Ocón L, Badía S. 2003. Overcoming obstacles: the triple mobilization of the Comisión Científica del Pacífico. Science in Context 16: 505–534.
Puig-Samper MA. 1988. Crónica de una expedición romántica al Nuevo Mundo. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 459 pp.

[1] MNCN archives.