Richard Sabin, the curator of large mammals at the Natural History Museum, explains why father of comparative anatomy Edward Tyson is his Natural History Hero.
Edward Tyson, a physician and scientist, is regarded as the father of the study of comparative anatomy. Tyson was one of an early group of scientists who started to look inside animals in order to understand them and therefore learn more about ourselves. In a time before the category 'mammal' even was recognised Tyson's anatomy of a porpoise described an animal more similar to a pig than a fish without resorting to mythical explanations for this incongruity. Later Tyson was the first to note that a chimpanzee is physically more in akin to a human than to a monkey. These observations were only made possible due to Tyson's incredible dissection skills and knowledge of anatomy. Richard Sabin curator of large mammals at the Natural History Museum explains why Edward Tyson is his Natural History Hero.
He is special advisor to the NHM’s UK Strandings Project, carries out endangered species identification work for UK and international law enforcement, and develops internationally recognised protocols and techniques for the extraction of genetic material from the Museum's research specimens.
He demonstrated for the first time the probability of a relationship between the anatomy of man and other animals, which was not established more clearly until Charles Darwin published 'The Descent of Man', 150 years later.
'The Anatomy of a Pygmie compared with that of a Monkey, an Ape and a Man', was the first work to study tailless apes and for the first time distinguished them as a separate group to monkeys and man.
Picture: © Royal College of Physicians