In the summer of 1835, he visited France, Switzerland,
and Germany, and was so much attracted by the Jardin des Plantes
that he resolved to spend the winter of 1836-7 in Paris, studying
it the Jardin. When there he attended the lectures of De Blainville
and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, which impressed him with the necessity
of studying the geographical distribution of animals. During the
winter he travelled in the South of France and in Algeria, collecting
many natural history specimens.
In 1837-8, he was back in Edinburgh, working at natural history,
and bringing out his book "Manx Mollusca." More papers
followed and at the British Association meeting of 1839 obtained
a grant for dredging researches in the British seas, with a view
to illustrating the geographical distribution of marine animals.
He completed his "History of British Starfishes" 1841
and also in that year was appointed naturalist to HMS Beacon, engaged
in surveying work in the Levant. He made extensive collections of
marine animals, and learned many facts of importance in the natural
history of the Aegean Sea.
He was elected curator of the museum of the Geological Society around
this time and despite his onerous duties still published papers and
He became a Fellow of the Geological Society in 1844, and of the
Royal Society in 1845.
In the spring of 1850, he gave twelve lectures at the Royal Institution
on the " Geographical Distribution of Organised Beings."
In 1853 he was elected President of the Geological Society, an
office never before held by so young a man, and, in 1854, he became
Professor of Geology at Edinburgh.
His name is carved on the outside of the museum as 'Edmund' - but
this appears to be a mistake.