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Early work on bird migration


Professor Stresemann
Ernst Mayr Scientist
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Germany wasn't big enough to have both [Erwin] Stresemann and me, and Stresemann was there first. He occupied the territory, and I'm quite sure that in due time I would have had to… shift into something very different which I could have possibly done, or get into continuous fighting with Stresemann. Now Stresemann was… in one respect he differed from me and I've just been discussing this with a man who's working on a Stresemann biography. Stresemann was outstanding, I have nothing but admiration for Stresemann, but he always was… he… he applied everything to birds, he never stepped outside; I always had interests outside of birds. In the course of my life I have worked on groups of insects, I have worked on marine invertebrates, I have worked even on plants and so forth. That never would have happened in Stresemann and I'm quite sure that if I had stayed in Germany I probably would in… in… very soon shifted to some other group of organisms.

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: Germany, Erwin Stresemann

Duration: 1 minute, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008