Meeting Abstract

AMS.1  Thursday, Jan. 5  A Tribute to Dr. Mary E. Rice: From Neanderthals to Naples - A Brief History of Marine Biology from Antiquity to 1900 ECKELBARGER, Kevin J; University of Maine kevine@maine.edu

Marine biology was born in the Mediterranean where Neanderthals exploited marine invertebrates, pinnipeds, cetaceans, and fish on the eastern shores of Gibraltar ~30,000 years ago and Aristotle studied marine organisms in the Aegean Sea in the 4th century B.C. The Age of Discovery spawned a revolution in anatomical and taxonomic studies throughout the Renaissance and the Enlightenment and marine biology benefited from technological advances of the Industrial Revolution and a Second Age of Discovery in the 18th and 19th centuries. Improvements in vessel technology and advances in microscopes, tissue microtomes, and histological techniques all helped advance the field. The collection of shallow water marine organisms in small boats gave way to deep-water dredging using larger vessels and trained crews. Short-term studies of marine organisms during brief visits to the seashore led to long-term studies conducted at permanent, coastal marine stations that proliferated during the last quarter of the century. Studies on the ecology, anatomy, physiology, embryology, and life histories of marine organisms generated progress in our basic understanding of cells, fertilization biology, development, and evolution. Numerous ocean expeditions both before and after the legendary British Challenger led to a better appreciation of the complexity of marine ecosystems and the role of plankton while dispelling the notion of an “azoic zone“, “living fossils”, and the pantheistic concept that abiogenic processes fueled the evolution of metazoans from inorganic matter. This presentation will highlight some of the contributions of both the celebrated and lesser-known pioneers who helped establish the modern field of marine biology.