MadSci Network: Science History

Re: Who is credited with the discovery of the blastula?

Date: Tue Nov 20 14:08:42 2001
Posted By: Sarah Tegen, Grad student, Molecular and Cell Biology, UC-Berkeley
Area of science: Science History
ID: 999542319.Sh

Great question Jeremy!  I thought it was going to be easy to answer, 
but it's taken me a bunch of research to narrow it down.  The best 
thing I could think of doing was to look for the first use of the word 
blastula, and its etymology.  I looked at  the Oxford English Dictionary 
website and found out blastula was first used in 1887, by a man 
named Alfred Cort Haddon.  He was one of many embyrologists of 
this time.  However, he is more famous for his anthropolgy studies 
than his embryology studies.

Here's a little bit about his biography.

Professor Alfred Cort Haddon, FRS, 1855-1940, born in London, after 
studies in Cambridge he was appointed professor of Zoology at the 
Royal College of Science, Dublin in 1880. After a coral reef study trip 
to Torres Strait, he became interested in the native culture of the 
region and he changed direction and moved back to Cambridge, 
arranging the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres 
Straits in 1898-99 [Parazoanthus haddoni, Conchoesia haddoni 
Brady & Norman, 1896, Chaetopleura haddoni Winckworth, 1927]. 
Haddon became the well-known Professor of Ethnology at 
Cambridge, where he spent the rest of his life. He was reader in 
ethnology at Cambridge University between 1904-25. Haddon's 
daughter, Kathleen Haddon Rishbeth, 1888-1961, like her father, 
began in zoology and then turned to anthropology. Kathleen 
published two papers on copepods in 1912, part of a natural history 
honors degree from Cambridge. She is remembered (in spite of the 
masculine ending) through Herpyllobius haddoni Lützen, 1964. (Dr. 
D. Damkaer kindly provided much of this information).

Even though he was the first person to NAME the blastula, he was 
probably not the first person to observe one (though I can't figure out 
who may have first observed it).  That's the way it sometimes goes in 

Here are a couple other references that I found useful in looking up 
the answer.

Best of luck!

-Sarah Tegen

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