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This is the newest and best work about James Eights, a little-known 19th century naturalist-explorer from Albany, N.Y. who was the first American scientist to visit the Antarctic.
An impressive work of scholarship, it is the product of more than three decades' work by Daniel L. McKinley, an associate professor emeritus of biological sciences at the State University of New York at Albany. To give an idea of the research that was involved, there are an amazing 785 sources cited in the bibliography!
From 1829 to 1831, Eights accompanied a sealing and exploring expedition led by Capt. Benjamin Pendleton to the South Shetland Islands in two brigs, Seraph and Annawan, in company with the schooner Penguin.
During the expedition, Eights found the first Antarctic fossil (a "fragment of carbonized wood" two and a half feet long); discovered the ten-legged sea spiders called Decolopoda, and two other new marine invertebrate species, elegantly illustrating all three of them; made the first scientific record of a flowering plant in Antarctica (known today as Deschampsia antarctica); and was the first to use the term "tabular" for flat-topped icebergs, while also accurately describing their origin from ice shelves.
Eights collected rocks, lichens and marine animals--and between 1833 and 1852 published five papers in professional scientific style about his discoveries.
Not only is Eight's Antarctic work covered thoroughly in eight richly-footnoted chapters, but his early life and later accomplishments are also outlined as fully as possible.
In two additional chapters of interest to Antarcticans, McKinley writes about Eights' disappointing involvement in the planning for Lieutenant Charles Wilkes' U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842.Read more ›
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