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Publishing a facsimile of the first edition of On the Origin of Species


Travelling in Australia
Ernst Mayr Scientist
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I used three months that I spent in Australia to see a… a great deal of Australia owing to the friendliness of my friends over there who took me on excursions right up to Queensland, through the interior of New South Wales, and finally from Perth into the heart of the Australian desert. And it was quite a remarkable experience to see all this, and in the interior of Australia when night comes you just stop your vehicle and you spread out maybe a bit of a… a plastic sheet and then you just lie down and sleep under the open sky because the one thing that you don't have to be afraid of… that there would be suddenly rain! It just doesn't happen there. Although there was a… a hurricane coming in at the coast and we had to rush away from the… one of the interior areas because there was a very flat area and every 15 or 20 years there is such a hurricane coming in and then there will be 15 or 20 inches of rain and this flat area will be just one single lake, and that's exactly what happened after we had escaped from there.

The late German-American biologist Ernst Mayr (1904-2005) was a leading light in the field of evolutionary biology, gaining a PhD at the age of 21. He was also a tropical explorer and ornithologist who undertook an expedition to New Guinea and collected several thousand bird skins. In 1931 he accepted a curatorial position at the American Museum of Natural History. During his time at the museum, aged 37, he published his seminal work 'Systematics and Origin of the Species' which integrated the theories of Darwin and Mendel and is considered one of his greatest works.

Listeners: Walter J. Bock

Walter J. Bock is Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Columbia University. He received his B.Sc. from Cornell and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. His research lies in the areas of organismal and evolutionary biology, with a special emphasis on functional and evolutionary morphology of the skeleto-muscular system, specifically the feeding apparatus of birds.

Tags: Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Perth

Duration: 1 minute, 21 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008