Another paleo-themed poem, about the early 20th century zoologist William Beebe. I’ve recently been reading a lot about how much of an impact Beebe had on several different areas of biology. Among his more notable contributions:
- On an expedition across Asia to document the world’s pheasants, Beebe was the first person to document the mechanism by which sexual selection operates.
- Beebe was one of the pioneers in the conservation movement of the early 20th century, particularly together with his close friend Theodore Roosevelt.
- Beebe is the main person responsible for the idea that in order to have a complete understanding of animals, it’s necessary to study the entire ecosystem they inhabit, which is the foundation for the field of ecology.
- In the 1930s, Beebe was the first person to descend into the deep ocean in a bathysphere, along with the bathysphere’s inventor Otis Barton.
- In 1915, Beebe was the first person to propose the existence of leg-wings on the ancestors of birds. This prediction was confirmed by the discovery of Microraptor gui in 2003.
Yet for some reason, very few people nowadays know who William Beebe was. It seems very strange that history would have mostly forgotten him, and also a little unjust.
A few lines of this poem are direct references to famous things Beebe has written. The first line is one of Beebe’s most famous quotes, written by Beebe when he was 15. The last line of the poem is a reference to the conclusion of Beebe’s 1915 Tetrapteryx paper: “No fossil bird of the ages prior to Archaeopteryx may come to light, but the memory of Tetrapteryx lingers in every dove-cote.”