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Thomas Rymer Jones, F.R.S

Nature volume 23, pages 174175 | Download Citation



THE late Professor of Comparative Anatomy at King's College, London, whose death is announced, was born about the year 1820. He studied for the medical profession at Guy's Hospital, and took the diploma of the Royal College of Surgeons, London, in 1833. A chronic deafness unfitting him for the active pursuit of his profession, he devoted his attention exclusively to comparative anatomy. Some of his earliest papers were on the dissections of a tiger (Proc. Zool. Soc. 1834) and of an agouti (Proc. Zool. Soc. 1834). He was the first Professor of Comparative Anatomy at King's College, and was Fullerian Professor of Physiology to the Royal Institution in 1840. He was Assistant-Secretary to the Section of Zoology and Botany during the eighth meeting of the British Association held at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1838, the president of the section being Sir W. Jardine, the secretaries J. Edward Gray, Richard Owen, and John Richardson. This meeting was marked by the presence of Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg, who laid before the section a copy of his famous work, “Ueber Infusionsthierchen,” making at the same time a short statement as to his views of the alimentary canal of the polygastric infusoria. These views were, in the discussion which followed, criticised by Rymer Jones, who stood almost alone among the British naturalists in opposing them. In 1838 the first part of his “General Outline of the Animal Kingdom” was published by Mr. Van Voorst, happily still among us. It was completed in ten or twelve parts, and was illustrated by really beautiful woodcuts. This work marked an era in the study of zoology and comparative anatomy in our country. True it is that the information of the author was mostly borrowed; true that he had no great familiarity with the work of the German naturalists of the time; true that the book will not bear to be appealed to now: but forty years ago it was the best book of its sort in England, and the generation has not as yet quite passed away which learnt from its pages. We have altered since then, both in the manner and the matter of our teaching of comparative anatomy, and for the better no doubt; but after another forty years our systems may too have seen their day. It may be conjectured that this book was in advance of its day, for an eminent writer, in reviewing it in 1839, objected to Rymer Jones' facts about the Infusoria, and declared he still placed confidence in Ehrenberg's observations, while he criticised his description of Volvox globator, and believed this “Infusorian” had nutritive organs, mouth, eyes, &c.

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