Distinguished author

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Franz Steindachner
(1834–1919)

An Austrian zoologist, ichthyologist, and herpetologist. Steindachner published over 200 papers on fishes and over 50 papers on reptiles and amphibians, and described hundreds of new species of fish and dozens of new amphibians and reptiles. At least seven species of reptile have been named after him.

Being interested in natural history, Steindachner took up the study of fossil fishes. In 1860 he was appointed to the position of director of the fish collection at the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna, a position which had remained vacant since the death of Johann Jakob Heckel in 1857. Steindachner's reputation as an ichthyologist grew, and in 1868 he was invited by Swiss-born American zoologist Louis Agassiz to accept a position at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. Steindachner took part in the USCSS Hassler Expedition of 1871–1872; a journey that circumnavigated South America from Boston to San Francisco. In 1874 he returned to Vienna, and in 1887 was appointed director of the zoological department of the Naturhistorisches Museum. He was promoted to director of the museum in 1898. He traveled extensively during his career, his research trips taking him throughout the Iberian Peninsula, the Red Sea, the Canary Islands, Senegal, Latin America, and more.

From 1875, he was member of the Vienna Academy of Sciences. In 1892 he became a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

See also: Distinguished authors of previous months.


Species of the Month

Common Seal

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Phoca vitulina, Heligoland, Germany

Vernacular name: Common Seal, also know as Harbour Seal

Length: 140 cm (female) – 170 cm (male)

Weight: 100 kg – 150 kg

Habitat: Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the Northern Hemisphere

Conservation status: Least Concern

First described: by Linnaeus in 1758


The Common Seal is an earless seal in the family Phocidae, found along temperate and arctic marine coastlines of the Northern Hemisphere. The most widely distributed species of the Pinnipedia (walruses, eared seals, and true seals), they are found in coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Baltic and North Seas.
Among the "big five" of the northwest European Wadden Sea the Common Seal doubtless is the eyecatcher. The other four larger animals of the region are the Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus, the Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena, the White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla, and the European Sea Sturgeon Acipenser sturio.

See also: Species of previous months


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