MICHAEL ROGERS OLDFIELD THOMAS, who died in tragic circumstances on June 16 last at the age of seventy-one years, was from boy hood devoted to the study of natural history. In 1876, at the age of eighteen, he was appointed to a clerical post in the British Museum. During the two succeeding years he devoted his leisure to biological studies under Huxley at the Royal College of Science and soon proved himself to be an alert observer with most capable hands. His beautiful dissections, and the ease and speed with which he made them, soon won the admiration of his teachers; and their reports persuaded Dr. Günther, the Keeper of Zoology, to arrange for the transfer of Thomas from the clerical to the scientific staff of the Museum. Thomas used to tell an amusing story of that transfer. For some months he was aware that it was going to take place; and rumour told him that he would work in future at echinoderms. Accordingly he took up the study of echinoderms with enthusiasm. At last the great day dawned. Dr. Günther sent for him and said: “Thomas, you will do the mammals.” Poor Thomas murmured something about echinoderms, but the autocrat thundered: “You will do the mammals.” Visions of countless sheep and cattle rushed into the lad's mind and, as Thomas put it, he hated those animals from a systematic point of view for ever more.
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Harvard Papers in Botany (2017)