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assisting the falconer museum, forres


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Forbes Portrait

Edward Forbes 1815-1854
Marine Biologist and Naturalist

Edward Forbes was born in the Isle of Man and he began to collect insects, plants, minerals and fossils there when a child.

He entered Edinburgh University, in 1831, as a medical student. He wrote a paper " On Some Manx Traditions," which was published in the Mirror newspaper in 1831. In his first year at Edinburgh, he attended Knox's lectures on anatomy and Graham's on botany, and became a devoted student of natural history.

During the vacation of 1832 he investigated the natural history of the Isle of Man.

In the summer of 1834, he dredged in the Irish Sea and continued to explore the natural history of the Isle of Man.

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 gave lectures.

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.



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