Constantine Samuel Rafinesque
|Died||18 September 1840 56) (aged|
|Author abbrev. (botany)||Raf.|
Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz, as he is known in Europe (22 October 1783 – 18 September 1840), was a nineteenth-century polymath born near Constantinople in the Ottoman Empire and self-educated in France. He traveled as a young man in the United States, ultimately settling in Ohio in 1815, where he made notable contributions to botany, zoology, and the study of prehistoric earthworks in North America. He also contributed to the study of ancient Mesoamerican linguistics, in addition to work he had already completed in Europe.
A polymath is an individual whose knowledge spans a significant number of subjects, known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems. The term entered the lexicon in the 20th century and has now been applied to great thinkers living before and after the Renaissance.
Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261) and of the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). In 1923 the capital of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, was moved to Ankara and the name Constantinople was officially changed to Istanbul. The city is located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul. The city is still referred to as Constantinople in Greek-speaking sources.
The Ottoman Empire, historically known to its inhabitants and the Eastern world as Rome (Rûm), and known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. Although initially the dynasty was of Turkic origin, it was thoroughly Persianised in terms of language, culture, literature and habits. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.
Rafinesque was eccentric, and is often portrayed as an erratic genius.He was an autodidact who excelled in various fields of knowledge, as a zoologist, botanist, writer and polyglot. He wrote prolifically on such diverse topics as anthropology, biology, geology, and linguistics, but was honored in none of these fields during his lifetime. Among his theories were that ancestors of Native Americans had migrated by the Bering Sea from Asia to North America, and that the Americas were populated by numerous black indigenous peoples at the time of European contact.
Eccentricity is unusual or odd behavior on the part of an individual. This behavior would typically be perceived as unusual or unnecessary, without being demonstrably maladaptive. Eccentricity is contrasted with normal behavior, the nearly universal means by which individuals in society solve given problems and pursue certain priorities in everyday life. People who consistently display benignly eccentric behavior are labeled as "eccentrics".
Anthropology is the scientific study of humans, human behavior and societies in the past and present. Social anthropology studies patterns of behaviour and cultural anthropology studies cultural meaning, including norms and values. Linguistic anthropology studies how language influences social life. Biological or physical anthropology studies the biological development of humans.
Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their physical structure, chemical processes, molecular interactions, physiological mechanisms, development and evolution. Despite the complexity of the science, there are certain unifying concepts that consolidate it into a single, coherent field. Biology recognizes the cell as the basic unit of life, genes as the basic unit of heredity, and evolution as the engine that propels the creation and extinction of species. Living organisms are open systems that survive by transforming energy and decreasing their local entropy to maintain a stable and vital condition defined as homeostasis.
Rafinesque was born on October 22, 1783in Galata, a suburb of Constantinople. His father F. G. Rafinesque was a French merchant from Marseilles; his mother M. Schmaltz was of German descent and born in Constantinople. His father died in Philadelphia about 1793. Rafinesque spent his youth in Marseilles, and was mostly self-educated; he never attended university. By the age of twelve, he had begun collecting plants for a herbarium. By fourteen, he taught himself Greek and Latin because he needed to follow footnotes in the books he was reading in his paternal grandmother's libraries. In 1802, at the age of nineteen, Rafinesque sailed to Philadelphia in the United States with his younger brother. They traveled through Pennsylvania and Delaware, where he made the acquaintance of most of the young nation's few botanists.
Galata was a neighbourhood opposite Constantinople, located at the northern shore of the Golden Horn, the inlet which separates it from the historic peninsula of old Constantinople. The Golden Horn is crossed by several bridges, most notably the Galata Bridge. The medieval citadel of Galata was a colony of the Republic of Genoa between 1273 and 1453. The famous Galata Tower was built by the Genoese in 1348 at the northernmost and highest point of the citadel. At present, Galata is a quarter within the borough of Beyoğlu (Pera) in Istanbul, and is known as Karaköy.
Philadelphia, known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city, with a 2018 census-estimated population of 1,584,138. Since 1854, the city has had the same geographic boundaries as Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.
A herbarium is a collection of preserved plant specimens and associated data used for scientific study.
In 1805 Rafinesque returned to Europe with his collection of botanical specimens, and settled in Palermo, Sicily, where he learned Italian.He became so successful in trade that he retired by age twenty-five and devoted his time entirely to natural history. For a time Rafinesque also worked as secretary to the American consul. During his stay in Sicily, he studied plants and fishes, naming many new discovered species of each. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1808.
Palermo is a city of Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Metropolitan City of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old. Palermo is located in the northwest of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf of Palermo in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. Founded in 1780, the Academy is dedicated to honoring excellence and leadership, working across disciplines and divides, and advancing the common good.
Rafinesque had a common-law wife. After their son died in 1815, he left her and returned to the United States. When his ship Union foundered near the coast of Connecticut, he lost all his books (50 boxes) and all his specimens (including more than 60,000 shells).Settling in New York, Rafinesque became a founding member of the newly established "Lyceum of Natural History." In 1817 his book Florula Ludoviciana or A Flora of the State of Louisiana was strongly criticized by fellow botanists, which caused his writings to be ignored. By 1818, he had collected and named more than 250 new species of plants and animals. Slowly he was rebuilding his collection of objects from nature.
Common-law marriage, also known as sui iuris marriage, informal marriage, marriage by habit and repute, or marriage in fact, is a legal framework in a limited number of jurisdictions where a couple is legally considered married, without that couple having formally registered their relation as a civil or religious marriage.
The molluscshell is typically a calcareous exoskeleton which encloses, supports and protects the soft parts of an animal in the phylum Mollusca, which includes snails, clams, tusk shells, and several other classes. Not all shelled molluscs live in the sea; many live on the land and in freshwater.
In the summer of 1818, in Henderson, Kentucky, Rafinesque made the acquaintance of fellow naturalist John James Audubon, and in fact stayed in Audubon's home for some three weeks. Audubon, although enjoying Rafinesque's company, took advantage of him in practical jokes involving fantastic, made-up species.
Henderson is a home rule-class city along the Ohio River in Henderson County in western Kentucky in the United States. The population was 28,757 at the 2010 U.S. census. It is part of the Evansville Metropolitan Area, locally known as the "Tri-State Area". It is considered the southernmost suburb of Evansville, Indiana and its population area of the Evansville metropolitan area was 58,702 as of 2018, making it the twelfth largest city, in the state the ninth most populous metro area in the state and, the fourteenth largest population center in the state when including micropolitan areas.
John James Audubon was an American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. He was notable for his extensive studies documenting all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats. His major work, a color-plate book entitled The Birds of America (1827–1839), is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed. Audubon identified 25 new species.
In 1819 Rafinesque became professor of botany at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, where he also gave private lessons in French, Italian and Spanish.He was loosely associated with John D. Clifford, a merchant who was also interested in the ancient earthworks which remained throughout the Ohio Valley. Clifford conducted archival research, seeking the origins of these mounds, and Rafinesque measured and mapped them. Some had already been lost to American development.
He was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1820.
Rafinesque started recording all the new species of plants and animals he encountered in travels throughout the state. He was considered an erratic student of higher plants. In the spring of 1826, he left the universityafter quarreling with its president.
He traveled and lectured in various places, and endeavored to establish a magazine and a botanic garden, but without success. He moved to Philadelphia, a center of publishing and research, without employment. He published The Atlantic Journal and Friend of Knowledge, a Cyclopædic Journal and Review,of which only eight issues were printed (1832–1833). He also gave public lectures and continued publishing, mostly at his own expense.
Rafinesque died of stomach and liver cancer in Philadelphia on September 18, 1840.It has been speculated that the cancer may have been induced by Rafinesque's self-medication years before with a mixture containing maidenhair fern. He was buried in a plot in what is now Ronaldson's Cemetery. In March 1924 what were thought to be his remains were transported to Transylvania University and reinterred in a tomb under a stone inscribed, "Honor to whom honor is overdue."
Rafinesque published 6,700 binomial names of plants, many of which have priority over more familiar names.The quantity of new taxa he produced, both plants and animals, has made Rafinesque memorable or even notorious among biologists.,
Rafinesque applied to join the Lewis and Clark Expedition, but was twice turned down by Thomas Jefferson.After studying the specimens collected by the expedition, he assigned scientific names to the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus), the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) and the mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus).
Rafinesque was one of the first to use the term "evolution" in the context of biological speciation.
Rafinesque proposed a theory of evolution before Charles Darwin.In a letter in 1832, Rafinesque wrote:
The truth is that Species and perhaps Genera also, are forming in organized beings by gradual deviations of shapes, forms and organs, taking place in the lapse of time. There is a tendency to deviations and mutations through plants and animals by gradual steps at remote irregular periods. This is a part of the great universal law of perpetual mutability in everything. Thus it is needless to dispute and differ about new genera, species and varieties. Every variety is a deviation which becomes a species as soon as it is permanent by reproduction. Deviations in essential organs may thus gradually become new genera.
In the third edition of On the Origin of Species published in 1861, Charles Darwin added a Historical Sketch that acknowledged the ideas of Rafinesque.
Rafinesque's evolutionary theory appears in a two-page article in the 1833 spring issue of the Atlantic Journal and Friend of Knowledge (a journal founded by himself). Rafinesque held that species are not fixed, they gradually change through time. He used the term "mutations". He also held the view that evolution had occurred "by gradual steps at remote irregular periods." This has been compared to the concept of punctuated equilibrium.
In 1836 Rafinesque published his first volume of The American Nations. This included Walam Olum , a purported migration and creation narrative of the Lenape (also known by English speakers as the Delaware Indians). It told of their migration to the lands around the Delaware River. Rafinesque claimed he had obtained wooden tablets engraved and painted with indigenous pictographs, together with a transcription in the Lenape language. Based on this, he produced an English translation of the tablets' contents. Rafinesque claimed the original tablets and transcription were later lost, leaving his notes and transcribed copy as the only record of evidence.
For over a century after Rafinesque's publication, the Walam Olum was widely accepted by ethnohistorians as authentically Native American in origin. But, as early as 1849, when the document was republished by Ephraim G. Squier, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, an ethnologist who had worked extensively in Michigan and related territories, wrote to Squier saying that he believed the document might be fraudulent.In the 1950s the Indiana Historical Society published a "re-translation" of the Walam Olum, as "a worthy subject for students of aboriginal culture".
Since the late 20th century, studies especially since the 1980s in linguistic, ethnohistorical, archaeological and textual analyses, suggest that the Walam Olum account was largely or entirely a fabrication. Scholars have described its record of "authentic Lenape traditional migration stories" as spurious.After the publication in 1995 of David Oestreicher's thesis, The Anatomy of the Walam Olum: A 19th Century Anthropological Hoax, many scholars concurred with his analysis. They concluded that Rafinesque had been either the perpetrator, or perhaps the victim, of a hoax. Other scholars, writers, and some among the Lenape continue to find the account plausible and support its authenticity.
Rafinesque made a notable contribution to North American prehistory with his studies of ancient earthworks of the Adena and Hopewell cultures, especially in the Ohio Valley. He was the first to identify these as the "Ancient Monuments of America." He listed more than 500 such archaeological sites in Ohio and Kentucky.Rafinesque never excavated; rather, he recorded the sites visited by careful measurements, sketches, and written descriptions. Only a few of his descriptions were published, with his friend John D. Clifford's series "Indian Antiquities," eight long letters in Lexington's short-lived Western Review and Miscellaneous Magazine (1819-1820). Clifford died suddenly in 1820, ending his contributions.
Rafinesque's work was used by others. For instance, he identified 148 ancient earthworks sites in Kentucky. All sites in Kentucky which were included by E. G. Squier and Davis in their notable Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (1848), completed for the Smithsonian Institution, were first identified by Rafinesque in his manuscripts.
Rafinesque also made contributions to Mesoamerican studies. The latter were based on linguistic data which he extracted from printed sources, mostly those of travelers. He designated as Taino , the ancient language of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.Others later also used the term to identify the ethnicity of indigenous Caribbean peoples.
Although mistaken in his presumption that the ancient Maya script was alphabetical in nature, Rafinesque was probably first to insist that studying modern Mayan languages could lead to deciphering the ancient script. In 1832 he was the first to partly decipher ancient Maya. He explained that its bar-and-dot symbols represent fives and ones, respectively.
John Jeremiah Sullivan's essay La-Hwi-Ne-Ski: Career of an Eccentric Naturalist, which appears in his 2011 collection, Pulphead , chronicles the life and times of Rafinesque.
Sparrows are a family of small passerine birds. They are also known as true sparrows, or Old World sparrows, names also used for a particular genus of the family, Passer. They are distinct from both the American sparrows, in the family Passerellidae, and from a few other birds sharing their name, such as the Java sparrow of the family Estrildidae. Many species nest on buildings and the house and Eurasian tree sparrows, in particular, inhabit cities in large numbers, so sparrows are among the most familiar of all wild birds. They are primarily seed-eaters, though they also consume small insects. Some species scavenge for food around cities and, like gulls or rock doves will happily eat virtually anything in small quantities.
Bustards, including floricans and korhaans, are large, terrestrial birds living mainly in dry grassland areas and on the steppes of the Old World. They range in length from 40 to 150 cm. They make up the family Otididae. Bustards are omnivorous and opportunistic, eating leaves, buds, seeds, fruit, small vertebrates, and invertebrates.
Laridae is a family of seabirds in the order Charadriiformes that includes the gulls, terns and skimmers. It includes around 100 species arranged into 22 genera. They are an adaptable group of mostly aerial birds found worldwide.
The flowering plant genus Ipheion belongs to Allioideae, a subfamily of the family Amaryllidaceae. The World Checklist of Selected Plant Families no longer recognize the genus, regarding it as a synonym of Tristagma, although The Plant List accepts two species.
Thomas Say was an American entomologist, conchologist, and herpetologist. His definitive studies of insects and shells, numerous contributions to scientific journals, and scientific expeditions to Florida, Georgia, the Rocky Mountains, Mexico, and elsewhere made him an internationally known naturalist. Say has been called the father of American descriptive entomology and American conchology. He served as librarian for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, curator at the American Philosophical Society, and professor of natural history at the University of Pennsylvania.
Daniel Garrison Brinton was an American surgeon, historian, archaeologist and ethnologist.
The various cultures collectively termed "Mound Builders" were inhabitants of North America who, during a circa 5,000-year period, constructed various styles of earthen mounds for religious, ceremonial, burial, and elite residential purposes. These included the pre-Columbian cultures of the Archaic period, Woodland period, and Mississippian period; dating from roughly 3500 BCE to the 16th century CE, and living in regions of the Great Lakes, the Ohio River Valley, and the Mississippi River valley and its tributary waters.
The Starchild skull is part of a malformed human skull of a child who likely died as a result of congenital hydrocephalus. It received widespread publicity after paranormalist Lloyd Pye claimed it was of extraterrestrial origin.
Caleb Atwater was an American politician, historian, and early archaeologist in the state of Ohio. He served several terms as a state politician and was appointed as United States postmaster of Circleville, Ohio. He was known best during the 19th century for his publication History of the State of Ohio (1838), the first book-length history of the new state. It also included much natural lore.
Big Bone is an unincorporated community in southern Boone County, Kentucky, United States. It is bounded on the west by the Ohio River, and Rabbit Hash, on the south by Big Bone Creek, which empties into the river at Big Bone Landing. The northern extent is along Hathaway Road, and the eastern portion extends not further than U.S. 42, and is approached from that direction by Beaver Road coming from either Richwood or Walton. Big Bone took its name from a nearby prehistoric mineral lick of the same name. Geographical features of interest include Big Bone Lick State Park and the now disappeared Big Bone Island.
The Walam Olum or Walum Olum, usually translated as "Red Record" or "Red Score," is purportedly a historical narrative of the Lenape (Delaware) Native American tribe. The document has provoked controversy as to its authenticity since its publication in the 1830s by botanist and antiquarian Constantine Samuel Rafinesque. Ethnographic studies in the 1980s and analysis in the 1990s of Rafinesque's manuscripts have produced significant evidence that the document is a hoax. Some Delaware people, however, believe Rafinesque based his writing on actual Lenape stories.
Glenn Albert Black was an American archaeologist, author, and part-time university lecturer who was among the first professional archaeologists to continuously study prehistoric sites Indiana. Black, a pioneer and innovator in developing archaeology field research techniques, is best known for his excavation of Angel Mounds, a Mississippian community near present-day Evansville, Indiana, that he brought to national attention. Angel Mounds was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964. Black was largely self-taught and began serious work on archaeological sites in Indiana in the 1930s, before there were many training opportunities in archaeology in the United States. He is considered to have been the first full-time professional archaeologist focusing on Indiana's ancient history, and the only professional archaeologist in the state until the 1960s. During his thirty-five-year career as an archaeologist in Indiana, Black also worked as a part-time lecturer at Indiana University Bloomington from 1944 to 1960 and conducted a field school at the Angel site during the summer months.
Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (1848) by the Americans Ephraim George Squier and Edwin Hamilton Davis is a landmark in American scientific research, the study of the prehistoric indigenous mound builders of North America, and the early development of archaeology as a scientific discipline. Published in 1848, it was the Smithsonian Institution's first publication and the first volume in its Contributions to Knowledge series. The book had 306 pages, 48 lithographed maps and plates, and 207 wood engravings.
The Lenape Stone is a piece of slate found in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1872, which appears to depict Native Americans hunting a woolly mammoth. This image, however, seems to have been carved some time after the stone was broken into two; for this and other reasons, it is generally considered an archaeological forgery.
Rafinesque's big-eared bat, sometimes known as the southeastern big-eared bat, is a species of vesper bat native to the southeastern United States.
Kenneth L. "Kenny" Feder is a professor of archaeology at Central Connecticut State University and the author of several books on archaeology and criticism of pseudoarchaeology such as Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology. His book Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology: From Atlantis to the Walam Olum was published in 2010. His newest book Ancient America: Fifty Archaeological Sites to See for Yourself was published in 2017. He is the founder and director of the Farmington River Archaeological Project.
George Washington Tryon Jr. was an American malacologist who worked at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.
Peter Johnson Gulick was a missionary to the Kingdom of Hawaii and Japan. His descendants carried on the tradition of missionary work, and included several scientists.
Johann Ferdinand Roth, Johannes Roth or John Roth (1726–1791) was a Prussian clergyman who settled in the USA.
A cave salamander is a type of salamander that primarily or exclusively inhabits caves, a group that includes several species. Some of these animals have developed special, even extreme, adaptations to their subterranean environments. Some species have only rudimentary eyes. Others lack pigmentation, rendering them a pale yellowish or pinkish color.