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Peter Pallas Procured a Pack of Pulchritudinous Plumages

People from Stephen Colbert to Kate Winslet to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow have animals named after them in an honorary way. Peter Pallas also has two animals honorarily named after him, but he also published the original descriptions of quite a few species, himself!

Peter Simon Pallas - (1741-1811) 

Pallas was a German-born and educated Russian zoologist. The first animals that he made original descriptions of were unclassified taxidermied creatures in a Dutch museum in the Hague. Later, after Catherine II invited him to teach at St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, he made several expeditions to central Russian provinces, Lake Baikal, the Ural Mountains, and the upper Amur. He amassed an impressive collection of minerals, plants, and animals. Empress Catherine II was very impressed with his work, and paid Pallas 2,000 rubles for his entire collection (500 rubles above the asking price), allowing Pallas to keep his collection until he died. She later gave him a large estate, where he lived until his second wife died.

Pallas went back to Berlin in 1810, with permission of the Emperor. He died there the next year. The majority of his original botanical and zoological collection remain in St. Petersburg.

So what did he discover?

Pallas’s critters past break!

Not all of the animals that Pallas originally described are named after him, but several are. They include:

1. Pallas’ Cat (everyone knows Pallas’ Cat!)


Illustration from the 1881 book “An Introduction to Backboned Animals” by Mivart

2008 Kazakh postage stamp

2. Pallas’s Long-Tongued Bat

Haeckel Illustration of Chiroptera - 2nd from bottom on left is Pallas’s long-tongued bat

3. Pallas’s Tube-Nosed Fruit Bat

Pallas’s Tube-Nosed Bat

4. Pallas’s Squirrel

5. Pallas’s Warbler

6. Pallas’s Cormorant [Extinct]

7. Pallas’s Fish-Eagle

Illustration by Henry E. Dresser

8. Pallas’s Gull

Photograph by Yael Shiff, 2008, Israel

9. Pallas’s Sandgrouse

10. Pallas’s Rosefinch

Another John Gould illustration, of course!

11. Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler

12. (Honorary) Pallas’s Pika

13. (Honorary) Pallas’s Reed Bunting

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