Sunday 11 July 2010

'Science Spotlight’ 7/12 Sir Richard Owen

Sir Richard Owen KCB (1804-1892)
Born in Lancaster, apprenticed to a local surgeon in 1820. He enrolled as a medical student at the University of Edinburgh in 1824, completing his medical course in London only to abandon the medical practice instead perusing a career in anatomical research. In 1827, Owen was appointed Assistant Curator of the Royal College of Surgeons. To further his understanding of anatomy he dissected deceased specimens donated by London zoo, acquiring a vast knowledge of comparative anatomy.
Owen had a particular interest in extinct animals, naming many species, publishing several scientific papers on the subject also coining the word Dinosauria (meaning "Terrible Reptile" or "Fearfully Great Reptile"). An astute politician, and friend to the Royal family Prince Albert requested he tutor the royal children and supervise the construction of the prehistoric life exhibition at the Crystal Palace. Having being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and Superintendent of the Natural History Departments of the British Museum, he established the British Museum of Natural History in South Kensington in 1881. Notorious for discrediting his fellow scientists, and claiming the scientific discoveries of others as his own, he continued to work until his official retirement at the age of 79. He was made a knight of the Order of the Bath in 1883.

© Arfon Jones 2010. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

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