Naturalists

Naturalists are the individuals who are expert in natural history. They are primarily zoologists or botanists who help the people in gaining an appreciation for the natural world. They act as the link between environment and the uninformed public whom they educate about the natural world and its processes. Naturalists teach the people how human activity affects the environment, natural resources and the living beings that inhabit the earth, and also demonstrate how interested parties can protect the environment. Charles Darwin the 19th century naturalist made significant contributions to the evolutionary theory. The famous painter John James Audubon was also a naturalist who published the ‘Birds of America’. American ornithologist Florence Merriam was a pioneer in her field who campaigned against the mistreatment and unnecessary killing of birds. The prolific writer Rachel Carson was one of the first people who made people understand the evils of pollution and played a key role in the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. One very famous naturalist of our time is Jane Goodall who is not just the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees but also the UN Messenger of Peace. This section provides you information about the life and works of various famous naturalists from all over the world.

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This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin
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Famous As: Naturalist known for His Contributions to Evolutionary Biology
Birthdate: February 12, 1809
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: The Mount House, Shrewsbury, England
Died: April 19, 1882

Widely regarded as one of the most influential personalities in the history of mankind, Charles Darwin was an English biologist, naturalist, and geologist. He is credited with publishing the Theory of Evolution, which explains the evolution of life from a unicellular organism to human beings. A prolific writer, Charles Darwin also wrote important books on plants and barnacles.

 2 Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau
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Famous As: Naturalist, Philosopher & Author Of 'Walden'
Birthdate: July 12, 1817
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Concord, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 6, 1862

Henry David Thoreau was an American philosopher, essayist, poet, and naturalist. He is credited with popularizing transcendentalism and simple living. His philosophy of civil disobedience, which was detailed in his essay of the same name, later influenced world-renowned personalities like Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi.

 3 Terri Irwin

Terri Irwin
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: July 20, 1964
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Eugene, Oregon, United States

American–Australian naturalist Terri Irwin is best known as the co-host of The Crocodile Hunter, along with her husband, the late animal expert Steve Irwin. She has also been part of shows such as Croc Files and Crikey! It's the Irwins, and helped in the development of Australia Zoo.

 4 Pliny the Elder

Pliny the Elder
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Famous As: Philosopher, Writer
Birthdate: 0023 AD
Birthplace: Como, Italy
Died: 0079 AD

Pliny the Elder was a Roman natural philosopher, author, and army and naval commander of the Roman Empire. His work Naturalis Historia became an editorial model for the present-day encyclopedias. Today, his statue greets the visitors of Cathedral of S. Maria Maggiore in his hometown, Como.

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 5 Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed
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Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: September 26, 1774
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Leominster, Massachusetts, United States
Died: March 18, 1845
Nurseryman John Chapman, better known to people as Johnny Appleseed, is remembered for introducing apple trees in areas across the American states of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois, and West Virginia. His aim as a missionary of The New Church was to help local settlers make cider.

 6 Richard Proenneke

Richard Proenneke
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: May 4, 1916
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Lee County, Iowa
Died: April 20, 2003
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 7 Jim Corbett

Jim Corbett
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Famous As: Hunter, Naturalist
Birthdate: July 25, 1875
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nainital, Uttarakhand, India
Died: April 19, 1955
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 8 Bob Irwin

Bob Irwin
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Famous As: Founder of Australia Zoo
Birthdate: June 8, 1939
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia

Bob Irwin, better known to the world as the father of legendary Australian conservationist Steve Irwin, is a conservationist in his own right. Initially a plumber, he later built the Beerwah Reptile Park, which later became Australia Zoo. Following Steve’s death, he cut all ties with the zoo.

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 9 Alexander von Humboldt

Alexander von Humboldt
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Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: September 14, 1769
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berlin
Died: May 6, 1859

As a child, Alexander von Humboldt was sickly and a bad student. After failing to shine in economics and engineering, he grew up to revolutionize the domain of geography. He is remembered for his research on magnetic storms and his treatise on nature, Kosmos. He also spoke about climate change.

 10 Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: August 1, 1744
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bazentin, France
Died: December 18, 1829

French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck acquired his love for plants while serving as a soldier in the French army. Following an injury, he quit his military career but retained his love for botany. He later taught zoology, studied the classification of invertebrates, and also coined the term biology.

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 11 Ernst Haeckel

Ernst Haeckel
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Famous As: Zoologist
Birthdate: February 6, 1834
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Potsdam, Germany
Died: July 31, 1919

Ernst Haeckel had initially practiced medicine before he gained an interest in Charles Darwin’s theory and began exploring zoology and related fields. He not only coined terms such as ecology, but also named numerous species and created a genealogical tree. He drew numerous figures of animals and sea creatures, too.

 12 Georges Cuvier

Georges Cuvier
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: August 23, 1769
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Montbéliard, France
Died: May 13, 1832

Georges Cuvier was a French zoologist and naturalist. A major figure in the early 19th century's research of natural sciences, Cuvier played an important role in establishing the fields of comparative paleontology and anatomy by comparing fossils with living animals, for which he is sometimes regarded as the founding father of paleontology.

 13 Joy Adamson

Joy Adamson
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: January 20, 1910
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Troppau, Austrian Silesia, Austria-Hungary, now Opava, Czech Republic
Died: January 3, 1980

Best known for her iconic book Born Free, which describes her experiences of raising a lion cub named Elsa, Joy Adamson was a noted Austro-Hungarian wildlife conservationist. She excelled in music and medicine in her younger days and later settled in Kenya with her third husband, conservationist George Adamson.

 14 Joseph Banks

Joseph Banks
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Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: February 24, 1743
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England
Died: June 19, 1820

British naturalist Joseph Banks is remembered for accompanying Captain James Cook on his voyage across places such as Brazil and Tahiti. He had also been the president of the Royal Society for over 40 years. Both his herbarium and library now find a place at the British Museum.

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 15 Steve Backshall

Steve Backshall
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: April 21, 1973
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bagshot, Surrey, England, United Kingdom

Two-time BAFTA-winning naturalist and explorer Steve Backshall soared to fame with the BBC program Deadly 60. He has also worked with the Discovery Channel and the National Geographic Channel. He has written The Falcon Chronicles, a series of children’s novels, among other books, and loves mountaineering and martial arts.

 16 Johann Friedrich Blumenbach

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach
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Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: May 11, 1752
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gotha, Germany
Died: January 22, 1840

A pioneer of physical anthropology, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach laid down one of the first racial classification systems for humans after studying human skulls, dividing mankind into five racial groups. Born into a family of academics, he was a prodigy. He was against scientific racism, though his theory promoted the degenerative hypothesis.

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 17 Maria Sibylla Merian

Maria Sibylla Merian
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: April 2, 1647
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Free City of Frankfurt, German
Died: January 13, 1717

 18 Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: September 7, 1707
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Montbard, France
Died: April 16, 1788

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was a French mathematician, encyclopédiste, cosmologist, and naturalist. He is best known for authoring and publishing Histoire Naturelle, an encyclopaedic collection of 36 volumes, which he worked on for 50 years. His work had a strong influence on two subsequent generations of naturalists, including popular French scientists like Georges Cuvier and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.

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 19 Hans Sloane

Hans Sloane
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Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: April 16, 1660
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Killyleagh, Northern Ireland
Died: January 11, 1753

British doctor Hans Sloane traveled to Jamaica as a personal physician of the 2nd duke of Albermarle and was soon engrossed in the natural species of the region. He documented his collections, and they eventually helped form the British Museum. He is also known as the inventor of drinking chocolate.

 20 Gavin Maxwell

Gavin Maxwell
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Famous As: Naturalist, Author
Birthdate: July 15, 1914
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: House of Elrig, Wigtownshire, Scotland
Died: September 7, 1969

 21 Francesco Redi

Francesco Redi
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Famous As: Physician, naturalist, biologist and poet
Birthdate: February 18, 1626
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Arezzo, Italy
Died: March 1, 1697

Called the founder of experimental biology and father of modern parasitology, Italian physician, biologist, naturalist and poet Francesco Redi did the first major experiment to challenge spontaneous generation. His book Esperienze intorno alla generazione degl'insetti includes most of his famous experiments, while his poem book Bacco in Toscana is counted among the finest works of 17th-century Italian poetry.   

 22 Roy Chapman Andrews

Roy Chapman Andrews
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: January 26, 1884
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States
Died: March 11, 1960

Roy Chapman Andrews was an American adventurer, explorer, and naturalist. He is best remembered for his association with the American Museum of Natural History where he also served as the director. Andrews is credited with bringing to the museum the first-known fossil dinosaur eggs. His life and career are said to have inspired George Lucas' famous character, Indiana Jones.

 23 John Burroughs

John Burroughs
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: April 3, 1837
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Roxbury, New York, United States
Died: March 29, 1921

 24 Takashi Amano

Takashi Amano
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Famous As: Photographer, Naturalist, Keirin cyclist
Birthdate: July 18, 1954
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Niigata
Died: August 4, 2015

 25 Gene Stratton-Porter

Gene Stratton-Porter
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: August 17, 1863
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lagro, Indiana, U.S
Died: December 6, 1924

 26 Conrad Gessner

Conrad Gessner
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Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: March 26, 1516
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: December 13, 1565

Born to a poor fur dealer, Conrad Gessner was sent to study under an uncle who dealt in medicinal herbs. He then studied theology but later grew up to become a Renaissance polymath, excelling in subjects such as natural history and medicine. His Bibliotheca universalis remains a major work in bibliography.

 27 Gilbert White

Gilbert White
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: July 18, 1720
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Selborne, Hampshire, England
Died: June 26, 1793

 28 William Beebe

William Beebe
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Famous As: Ornithologist
Birthdate: July 29, 1877
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York, United States
Died: June 4, 1962

 29 Mary Ward

Mary Ward
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: April 27, 1827
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ballylin, County Offaly, Ireland
Died: 1869 AD

English nun Mary Ward was one of the first to show how influential women could be in the Church. Her work led to the development of the Congregation of Jesus and Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Loreto Sisters. She traveled on foot all across Europe, establishing schools and was often criticized by traditionalists.

 30 Emin Pasha

Emin Pasha
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Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: March 28, 1840
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Opole, Poland
Died: October 23, 1892

Eduard Schnitzer, or Emin Pasha, was born into a German Jewish family in modern-day Poland. A qualified physician, he moved to Constantinople after being disqualified in Germany. He not only served the Ottoman rulers but also surveyed and explored Africa extensively. He was eventually killed by Arab slave raiders.

 31 Sir Samuel White Baker

Sir Samuel White Baker
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Famous As: English Explorer
Birthdate: July 8, 1821
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England
Died: December 30, 1893

 32 William Henry Hudson

William Henry Hudson
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: August 4, 1841
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: near Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died: August 18, 1922

British-Argentine author, naturalist, and ornithologist William Henry Hudson not just published a number of ornithological studies but also several novels, such as Green Mansions. He criticized Darwinism and was inspired by Samuel Butler’s writings. He was also part of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

 33 Georg Forster

Georg Forster
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: November 27, 1754
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Mokry Dwór, Poland
Died: January 10, 1794

 34 Thornton W. Burgess

Thornton W. Burgess
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Famous As: American children’s author and naturalist
Birthdate: January 14, 1874
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sandwich, Massachusetts, United States
Died: June 5, 1965

 35 John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury

John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury
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Famous As: Anthropologist, Politician, Archaeologist, Prehistorian, Banker, Statistician, Naturalist, Zoologist, Entomologist
Birthdate: April 30, 1834
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London
Died: May 28, 1913

British banker John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury, better known as Sir John Lubbock, had also been an MP. However, he is best known for his contribution to ethnography and archaeology. He is also credited with coining the terms Paleolithic and Neolithic, and is known for his books on animal behavior.

 36 Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire

Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: April 15, 1772
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Étampes, France
Died: June 19, 1844

 37 Henry Walter Bates

Henry Walter Bates
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: February 8, 1825
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Leicester, England
Died: February 16, 1892

 38 Lewis Thomas

Lewis Thomas
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Famous As: Physician, Writer, Naturalist, Poet
Birthdate: November 25, 1913
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Flushing
Died: December 3, 1993

 39 Li Shizhen

Li Shizhen
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Famous As: Chinese scholar
Birthdate: July 3, 1518
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: China
Died: 1593 AD

 40 Samuel Hearne

Samuel Hearne
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: January 31, 1745
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 31, 1792

 41 Engelbert Kaempfer

Engelbert Kaempfer
3
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: September 16, 1651
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lemgo, Germany
Died: November 2, 1716

Seventeenth-century German physician and traveler Engelbert Kaempfer had been on trade missions across the world, including places such as Russia, Iran, Java, and Japan. His written experiences about his stay in Japan became a valuable source of information on the flora and fauna of the country.

 42 George Crabbe

George Crabbe
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 24, 1754
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Aldeburgh, England
Died: February 3, 1834

George Crabbe was an English surgeon, poet, and clergyman. He began his career as a doctor's apprentice in the 1770s and later become a surgeon. After a few years, he pursued a living as a poet and also served as a clergyman in various capacities. He wrote poetry mainly in the form of heroic couplets. He was also a coleopterist. 

 43 Jan Swammerdam

Jan Swammerdam
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Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: February 12, 1637
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: February 17, 1680

Dutch naturalist Jan Swammerdam was the first to detect red blood cells. Though a qualified doctor, he never practiced medicine, and took to research instead. Known for his research on anatomy, he also revolutionized the study of insects, proving that the egg, larva, pupa, and adult are all the same organism.

 44 Ulisse Aldrovandi

Ulisse Aldrovandi
3
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: September 11, 1522
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bologna, Italy
Died: May 4, 1605

 45 Philip Henry Gosse

Philip Henry Gosse
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: April 6, 1810
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Worcester, England
Died: August 23, 1888

 46 Henri Mouhot

Henri Mouhot
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: May 15, 1826
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montbéliard, France
Died: November 10, 1861

 47 Bernard Germain de Lacépède

Bernard Germain de Lacépède
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: December 26, 1756
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Agen, France
Died: October 6, 1825

 48 Ivan T. Sanderson

Ivan T. Sanderson
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Famous As: Biologist, Writer
Birthdate: January 30, 1911
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: February 19, 1973

 49 Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg

Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg
3
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: April 19, 1795
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Delitzsch, Germany
Died: June 27, 1876

 50 Lorenz Oken

Lorenz Oken
3
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: August 1, 1779
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bohlsbach, Germany
Died: August 11, 1851