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Walter Garstang (February 9, 1868 - February 23, 1949), a Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, was a marine biologist and zoologist who was one of the first to study the functional biology of marine invertebrate larvae. His best known works on marine larvae were his poems which were published together after his death as Larval Forms and Other Zoological Verses, which describe the form and function of several marine larvae as well as illustrate some of the controversies of evolutionary biology of the time. Garstang was known for his vehement opposition to Ernst Haeckel's Biogenetic Law, now distilled into the Theory of Recapitulation.
Walter Garstang was born on February 9, 1868 as the eldest son of Dr. Walter Garstang of Blackburn and his wife Matilda Mary Wardley, and older brother of the archaeologist John Garstang. In 1884 at the age of 16, he was awarded a scholarship to Jesus College at the University of Oxford and was initially going to study medicine. Under the guidance of Henry Nottidge Moseley, he joined the school of Zoology, and graduated in 1888 at the age of 20. Before graduation, Garstang was offered a position as secretary and assistant to Gilbert C. Bourne, the new resident director of the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth. There he met Ray Lankester. In 1891 he left Plymouth and was a Berkley Research Fellow under Milnes Marshall at Owens College. A year later, Garstang returned to Plymouth as Assistant Naturalist, only to be elected a Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, in 1893. In 1894, While Ray Lankester was the Linacre Chair, he became a professor at Lincoln College, and in 1895 he started the series of Easter classes, in which he took students on week long field courses to Plymouth. The concept of Easter classes was copied at many other schools, and is now considered one of the key courses in any zoologist's training.
Larval Forms and other zoological verses
First published in 1951, two years after his death, Larval Forms and Other Zoological Verses is a compilation of Garstang's poems on the form, function and development of various larval invertebrates. Although they were published posthumously, Garstang had had a desire to publish them for many years and never did because he always thought he would add to them. Except for the introduction written by Sir Alister Hardy, everything in the final publication, including the title and order of the poems, was his own work. The poems included in his final word are:
Of these poems, The Ballad of the Veliger may be his best known work. Many of his poems were written to express his views on the scientific theories of the time. Most notable may be The Axolotl and the Ammocoete which speculates an evolutionary relationship between the Axolotl and the Ammocoete. Alister Hardy wrote on this in the Introduction to Larval Forms:
Only a few months before he died Garstang had drafted a communication toNature to put forward his latest suggestion that Amphioxus might be regarded as a paedomorphic ammocoete-like larva of a Cyclostome; it was never sent, because the day on which he was to have posted it he found that the whole of his idea had recently and quite independently been published by the great Stensio.
The great Stensio referred to here was Erik Stensiö, a Swedish paleozoologist.
The Ballad of the Veliger
This, his most famous poem, was first published in 1928, privately printed, and copies were handed out at the BA meeting that year where Garstang gave the Presidential Address to the Zoology section.
The Veliger's a lively tar, the liveliest afloat,
He's witnessed several changes in pelagic motor-craft;
Young Archi-mollusks went to sea with nothing but a velum—
But when by chance they brushed against their neighbours in the briny,
Their feet, you see, amidships, next the cuddy-hole shaft,
A fleet of fry turned out one day, eventful in the sequel:
Predaceous foes, still drifting by in numbers unabated,
This manoeuvre (fide Lamark) speeded up with repetition,
In this way, then, the Veliger, triumphantly askew,
But when the first new Veligers came home again to shore,
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Walter_Garstang". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|