From natural philosophy to natural science : a case-study of the giant squid

Earle, Alison J. (1978) From natural philosophy to natural science : a case-study of the giant squid. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

The middle years of the nineteenth century were critical ones in the study of the cephalopods when so many of the oceanic species were being discovered and described for the first time. Naturalists frequently discussed the correct classification of these new species, and one that elicited not only scientific but also popular interest, was the study of the species of giant cephalopods. -- The early debates on the possible existence of giant squids, and then on their taxonomy can be divided into three main periods. The first was the pre-scientific period, intimately involved with the literary tradition that supported the existence of giant cephalopods or sea monsters. The second period is contained within the years 1847-1873, and is here recognized as the start of scientific research on giant squids. In 1847 a Danish zoologist, Japetus Steenstrup, began a serious investigation which resulted in1856 in his describing the giant squids within a new genus which he called Architeuthus. His work was not generally known, and there was only limited research done in the years between 1856 and 1873. In the latter year the Rev. Moses Harvey of St. John’s, Newfoundland, obtained a complete specimen, and this new evidence greatly enhanced the hitherto limited research carried out on giant squids. The publicity he generated brought the giant squids to the attention of layman and scientist alike, and initiated study of these hitherto elusive creatures. -- The people involved in this study of the giant squid also present a chance to study the very changes that were being made in the nature of biological study. While the middle years of the nineteenth century were critical ones in the study of the cephalopods, they were also critical in the style of investigation of biology. Harvey and Steenstrup represented the transition from the amateur to the professional scientist; the two still co-existed, but the amateur was ceasing to be an instigator of scientific achievements and becoming a mere collector for the professional.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7632
Item ID: 7632
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 99-104
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: 1978
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador--Avalon Peninsula--St. John's
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Giant squids; Biology--History

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