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John Jenner Weir
John Jenner Weir FLS, FZS (1822 - 1894) was a British civil servant, amateur entomologist and ornithologist. He is best known today for being one of the naturalists who corresponded with and provided important data to both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. He played a particularly important role in the formulation of Wallace’s theory of warning coloration. He was also one of the 3 judges at the first cat fancy show in Great Britain.
Life and civil service career
Weir was born on August 9, 1822. at Lewes in East Sussex. He joined the customs service in 1839, rising to the high position of Accountant and Controller-General of Customs in London in 1874. He would hold that post until his retirement in 1885.
Work as a naturalist
Weir was an amateur naturalist who pursued interests in entomology, the study of insects, ornithology, the study of birds, and botany, the study of plants. His initial interest was in Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) and the first paper he ever published, in 1845, was on the discovery of a rare forester moth in Lewes. He was noted for his work collecting and setting very small Lepidoptera until an accident in 1870 resulted in the loss of the top half of his left thumb, which prevented him from setting very small insects. He kept birds in an aviary in his garden where he conducted experiments on predation of insects by birds.
Weir was a well known figure and popular among his fellow British entomologists. For four years he was treasurer of the Entomological Society of London and two times its vice president. Shortly before his death he was elected president of the South London Entomological and Natural History Society. He was a fellow of both the Linnean Society and the Zoological Society.
Correspondence with Darwin
In the 1867 letter to Charles Darwin in which he proposed his hypothesis of warning coloration in animals, Alfred Russel Wallace credited Weir with providing him with the key observation that birds in his aviary would not capture and eat a certain kind of common white moth. After Wallace made a request to the Entomological Society of London for data to test his hypothesis, Weir would conduct 2 years of experiments on the predation of birds upon caterpillars with a variety of different color schemes, providing the first hard data in support of the theory.
Years later Wallace would give the following account of the experiments:
Cat Fancy show
John Jenner Weir served as one of the three judges at the first Cat Fancy, which was held in the Crystal Palace in 1871. This was the first cat show in Britain, and it was organized by his brother Harrison Weir who also served as a judge.
He died from heart failure on March 23, 1894, just a couple of weeks after participating in his last meeting of the South London Entomological and Natural History Society where he submitted his final paper for publication. He had been suffering from Angina pectoris for a few years.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "John_Jenner_Weir". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|