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 a person whose expertise spans a significant number of subject areas, known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems.
Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Byzantine Empire, and also of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261), until finally falling to the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). It was reinaugurated in 324 from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, and dedicated on 11 May 330. The city was located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul.
The Ottoman Empire, also historically 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. 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 study of humans and human behavior and societies in the past and present. Social anthropology and cultural anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects 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 perfect 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, sometimes 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 2017 census-estimated population of 1,580,863. Since 1854, the city has been coterminous with 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. It is devoted to the advancement and study of the key societal, scientific, and intellectual issues of the day.
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 original concept of a "common-law marriage" is a marriage that is considered valid by both partners, but has not been formally recorded with a state or religious registry, or celebrated in a formal religious service. In effect, the act of the couple representing themselves to others as being married, and organizing their relation as if they were married, acts as the evidence that they are married.
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 Audobon's home for some three weeks. Audobon, 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 "Kentuckiana" or the "Tri-State Area".
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. (In this period in New York, Joseph Smith claimed he had found golden tablets and had a vision that gave him the Book of Mormon , which he transcribed from the vision.)
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.
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.
Darwin's finches are a group of about fifteen species of passerine birds. They are well known for their remarkable diversity in beak form and function. They are often classified as the subfamily Geospizinae or tribe Geospizini. They belong to the tanager family and are not closely related to the true finches. The closest known relative of the Galápagos finches is South-American Tiaris obscurus. They were first collected by Charles Darwin on the Galápagos Islands during the second voyage of the Beagle. Apart from the Cocos finch, which is from Cocos Island, the others are found only on the Galápagos Islands.
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.
Retama is a genus of flowering bushes in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the broom tribe, Genisteae. Retama broom bushes are found natively in North Africa, the Levant and some parts of southern Europe. Retama raetam and Retama monosperma have white flowers, while Retama sphaerocarpa has yellow flowers. It remains an open question in taxonomy whether the members of the genus Retama should be incorporated into the genus Genista.
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.
Charles Alexandre Lesueur was a French naturalist, artist and explorer.
Daniel Garrison Brinton was an American 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 which paranormalist Lloyd Pye had claimed is of extraterrestrial origin. The skull is of a child who likely died as a result of congenital hydrocephalus.
Clintonia borealis, is a perennial forest plant found in eastern North America. Clintonia borealis is named in honor of former New York senator and governor, DeWitt Clinton. It was once classified within the genus Convallaria.
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.
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.
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 Brazilian tuco-tuco is a tuco-tuco species from South America. It is found mainly in the state of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil, though Charles Darwin mentions it during his trip through present-day Uruguay.
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.