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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/518

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By Professor T. D. A. COCKERELL,


IT is doubtless true that biologists are 'born' rather than 'made' but it is probably no less true that the)-may be and are nipped in the bud in many instances by the frost of adverse circumstances. I speak of the making of biologists by the same right and in the same sense that the farmer speaks of raising crops, although as a matter of fact the crops raise themselves by their own inherent vitality. Encouraged by a lively conviction that the infant mortality of biological talent is much greater than is commonly supposed, I have sought to ascertain the conditions which permitted the survival of so much as we actually have, thinking that ways might be found to increase the crop. While neither expecting nor desiring that every one should become a specialist in biology, one may be pardoned for ardently wishing that the existing native talent should be more fully utilized, in view of the innumerable biological investigations lacking investigators.

In the United States to-day there are about four hundred publishing zoologists, exclusive of those whose writings are of little or no importance as contributing to the advancement of the science. The botanists are probably about as numerous, but I have not yet attempted to catalogue them. Of the zoologists about 140 are enumerated in 'Who's Who,' and these include most of those who have done any considerable amount of work, although there are some surprising omissions, and a few nearly as surprising inclusions. It would be a useful thing to publish at some future time a biographical index of all American biologists, living or dead, who have really contributed to the subject. In the meanwhile I have extracted a good deal of interesting information from 'Who's Who,' and a few other sources.

Starting with the idea that 'nature' counts for at least as much as 'nurture,' I looked for racial distinctions. Unfortunately it is impossible to ascertain the exact influence of race upon the development of talent, because those of different races are not subject to the same environment. It is well understood that the Germans, as a people, are inclined to be scientific, and considering the enormous influx of Germans into America, one would look for a large body of German-born biologists. There are, indeed, many German amateurs; but in our list of prominent American biologists the German-born are less than half-a-dozen, the best-known being Loeb, Ortmann and Eigenmann. Similarly, the Eng-