Charles Wachsmuth - Encyclopedia




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CHARLES WACHSMUTH (1829-1896), American palaeontologist, was born in Hanover, Germany, on the 13th of September 1829. Educated as a lawyer in his native city, he abandoned the profession on account of ill-health, and in 1852 went to New York as agent for a Hamburg shipping house. Two years later, for reasons of health, he removed to Burlington, Iowa, U.S.A., where he settled. Here he was attracted by the fossils, and especially the crinoids, of the Burlington Limestone, and in a few years possessed a fine collection. In 1864 he made acquaintance with L. Agassiz, and in the following year paid a visit to Europe, where he studied the crinoids in the British Museum and other famous collections. He now decided to devote all his energies to the elucidation of the crinoidea, and with signal success. He made further extensive collections, and supplied specimens to the Agassiz museum at Cambridge, U.S.A., and the British Museum. Becoming acquainted with Frank Springer (1848-), a lawyer at Burlington, he stirred up his enthusiasm in the subject, and together they continued the study of crinoids and published a series of important papers. These include "Discovery of the Ventral Structure of Taxocrinus and Haplocrinus, and Consequent Modifications in the Classification of the Crinoidea" (Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci., Philadelphia, 1889); "The Perisomic Plates of the Crinoids" (Ibid., 1891); and a monograph on "The North American Crinoidea Camerata," published, after the death of Wachsmuth, in the Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard (1897). Of this last-named work a detailed review and analysis was published by F. A. Bather, of the British Museum, in the Geol. Mag. for 1898-1899. Wachsmuth died on the 7th of February 1896.

Obituary (with portrait) by F. A. Bather, Geol. Mag. (April 1896).

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