Maria Koepcke

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Maria Koepcke
Maria Emilie Anna von Mikulicz-Radecki

(1924-05-15)15 May 1924
Died24 December 1971(1971-12-24) (aged 47)
Cause of deathCrash of LANSA Flight 508
Nationality German
Alma mater University of Kiel
Spouse(s) Hans-Wilhelm Koepcke
Children Juliane Diller

Maria Koepcke (15 May 1924 in Germany – 24 December 1971 in Peru) was a German ornithologist known for her work with Neotropical bird species. Koepcke was a well-respected authority in South American ornithology in a time when the field was largely dominated by men and her work is still referenced today. For her efforts, she is commemorated in the scientific names of four Peruvian bird species and, along with her husband, a Peruvian lizard species.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Peru republic in South America

Peru, officially the Republic of Peru, is a country in western South America. It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the west by the Pacific Ocean. Peru is a megadiverse country with habitats ranging from the arid plains of the Pacific coastal region in the west to the peaks of the Andes mountains vertically extending from the north to the southeast of the country to the tropical Amazon Basin rainforest in the east with the Amazon river.

Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe, who share a common German ancestry, culture and history. German is the shared mother tongue of a substantial majority of ethnic Germans.



Maria Emilie Anna von Mikulicz-Radecki was born in Leipzig, Saxony, Germany on 15 May 1924, [1] the daughter of Felix von Mikulicz-Radecki, a university professor of gynaecology, and Käthe Finzenhangen. [2] Her father’s family descended from Polish nobility and Polish surgeon Jan Mikulicz-Radecki was a relative of hers.[ citation needed ]

Gynaecology science of the treatment of diseases of the female sexual organs and reproductive tract

Gynaecology or gynecology is the medical practice dealing with the health of the female reproductive systems and the breasts. Outside medicine, the term means "the science of women". Its counterpart is andrology, which deals with medical issues specific to the male reproductive system.

<i>Szlachta</i> legally privileged noble class in the Kingdom of Poland, and in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class in the Kingdom of Poland, and in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. After the Union of Lublin in 1569, the Grand Duchy and its neighbouring Kingdom became a single state, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Poles people from Poland

The Poles, commonly referred to as the Polish people, are a nation and West Slavic ethnic group native to Poland in Central Europe who share a common ancestry, culture, history, and are native speakers of the Polish language. The population of self-declared Poles in Poland is estimated at 37,394,000 out of an overall population of 38,538,000, of whom 36,522,000 declared Polish alone.

As a young woman, Koepcke set out to study animals. It was in 1949 that Koepcke obtained her doctorate in zoology from the University of Kiel. During her time in Kiel, she met her future husband, Hans-Wilhelm Koepcke, also a student of zoology. After receiving their degrees, the two traveled to Peru in order to study birds and other wildlife native to the area and married there in 1950. [1] They lived in Miraflores, a suburb of Lima, and managed Casa Humboldt, [3] a visitor’s centre, until it closed in 1967. The Koepckes’ only child, a daughter named Juliane Margaret Beate Koepcke, was born in Lima in 1954. [4]

Doctorate academic or professional degree

A doctorate or doctor's degree or doctoral degree, is an academic degree awarded by universities, derived from the ancient formalism licentia docendi. In most countries, it is a research degree that qualifies the holder to teach at university level in the degree's field, or to work in a specific profession. There are a variety of names for doctoral degrees; the most common is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), which is awarded in many different fields, ranging from the humanities to scientific disciplines.

Zoology is the branch of biology that studies the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct, and how they interact with their ecosystems. The term is derived from Ancient Greek ζῷον, zōion, i.e. "animal" and λόγος, logos, i.e. "knowledge, study".

University of Kiel university

Kiel University is a university in the city of Kiel, Germany. It was founded in 1665 as the Academia Holsatorum Chiloniensis by Christian Albert, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp and has approximately 27,000 students today. Kiel University is the largest, oldest, and most prestigious in the state of Schleswig-Holstein. Until 1864/66 it was not only the northernmost university in Germany but at the same time the 2nd largest university of Denmark. Faculty, alumni, and researchers of the Kiel University have won 12 Nobel Prizes. Kiel University is a member of the German Universities Excellence Initiative since 2006. The Cluster of Excellence The Future Ocean, which was established in cooperation with the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in 2006, is internationally recognized. The second Cluster of Excellence "Inflammation at Interfaces" deals with chronic inflammatory diseases. The Kiel Institute for the World Economy is also affiliated with Kiel University.

Koepcke was killed at the age of 47 in the crash of LANSA Flight 508 in the Peruvian jungle. On 24 December 1971, she and Juliane boarded the ill-fated flight to travel to Pucallpa, where Hans-Wilhelm was working at the time, to spend Christmas there with him. The plane crashed due to a lightning strike during a heavy storm. Their daughter, Juliane, was the only survivor of the crash having fallen from 10,000 feet, still strapped into her seat which cushioned her landing. Though injured and without food, she hiked for 11 days through the rainforest until she was rescued. [4] At the time of her death, Koepcke was a department head for a natural history museum affiliated with the National University of San Marcos in Lima and a member of the German Ornithologists' Society. [1]

LANSA Flight 508

LANSA Flight 508 was a Lockheed L-188A Electra turboprop, registered OB-R-941, operated as a scheduled domestic passenger flight by Lineas Aéreas Nacionales Sociedad Anonima (LANSA), that crashed in a thunderstorm en route from Lima to Pucallpa, Peru on December 24, 1971, killing 91 people–all six of its crew and 85 of its 86 passengers. It was the worst lightning strike disaster in history. The sole survivor was 17-year-old Juliane Koepcke, who while strapped to her seat fell 2,800 m (9,200 ft) into the Amazon rainforest. She survived the fall and was then able to walk through the jungle for 11 days until being rescued by local lumbermen. The Electra was LANSA's last aircraft; the company lost its operating permit eleven days later.

Pucallpa Place in Ucayali, Peru

Pucallpa is a city in eastern Peru located on the banks of the Ucayali River, a major tributary of the Amazon River. It is the capital of the Ucayali region, the Coronel Portillo Province and the Calleria District.

Christmas holiday originating in Christianity, usually celebrated on December 25 (in the Gregorian or Julian calendars)

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ observed on December 25. as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centered around it.

After Koepcke's death, Hans-Wilhelm and Juliane both left Peru for Germany, Juliane in 1972 and Hans-Wilhelm in 1974. Hans-Wilhelm lived in Hamburg, teaching zoology at the University of Hamburg until his death in 2000, and Juliane, like her parents, studied zoology at the University of Kiel and became a mammalogist, specializing in the study of bats. [4]

Hamburg City in Germany

Hamburg is the second-largest city in Germany with a population of over 1.8 million.

University of Hamburg university in Hamburg, Germany

The University of Hamburg is a comprehensive university in Hamburg, Germany. It was founded on 28 March 1919, having grown out of the previous General lecture system and the Colonial Institute of Hamburg as well as the Akademic Gymnasium. In spite of its relatively short history, six Nobel Prize Winners and serials of scholars are affiliated to the university. The University of Hamburg is the biggest research and education institution in Northern Germany and one of the most extensive universities in Germany. The main campus is located in the central district of Rotherbaum, with affiliated institutes and research centres spread around the city state.


The Koepcke's screech owl is a species of owl in the family Strigidae. It is found in Peru. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.

Koepckes hermit species of bird

Koepcke's hermit, ermite de Koepcke, or ermitaño de Koepcke is a species of hummingbird in the family Trochilidae. It is found only in Peru. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest and subtropical or tropical moist montane forest. It is threatened by habitat loss.

The Selva cacique is a species of bird in the family Icteridae. It is endemic to Peru where its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is an uncommon and elusive bird and is threatened by habitat destruction; the population is thought to be declining rapidly and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed the bird's conservation status as being "endangered".

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Juliane Koepcke, also known by her married name Juliane Diller, is a German Peruvian mammalogist. As a teenager in 1971, Koepcke was the lone survivor of the LANSA Flight 508 plane crash, and then survived eleven days alone in the Amazon rainforest.

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  1. 1 2 3 Rea, Amadeo M. & Kostritsky, B. León (1973). "Obituary: Maria Emilie Anna von Mikulicz-Radecki Koepcke" (PDF). Auk . 90 (3): 735–736. doi:10.2307/4084200.
  2. Niethammer, G. (1974). "Maria Koepcke geb. Mikulicz-Radecki". Journal of Ornithology (in German). 115: 91–92. doi:10.1007/BF01647319.
  3. Vuilleumier, François (1995). "Five Great Neotropical Ornithologists: An Appreciation of Eugene Eisenmann, Maria Koepcke, Claës Olrog, Rodulfo Philippi, and Helmut Sick" (PDF). Ornitología Neotropical. 6 (2): 97–111.
  4. 1 2 3 Williams, Sally (22 March 2012). "Sole survivor: the woman who fell to earth". The Telegraph .
  5. Corvacho, Melvin Gastañaga; MacLeod, Ross; Brooks, Daniel M.; Hennessey, Bennett (2011). "Distinctive morphology, ecology, and first vocal descriptions of Sira Curassow (Pauxi [Unicornis] koepckeae): evidence for species rank" (PDF). Ornitologia Neotropical. 22: 267–279.
  6. Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN   978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Koepcke", p. 144).