University of Dundee

Fiona Hyslop, Scottish Minister for Culture & External Affairs visits D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum

13 Aug 2010

Whilst in Dundee as part of her summer tour programme, the Minister visited the D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum at the University of Dundee, which is marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Dundee's pioneer of life sciences, Professor Sir D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson. 

D’Arcy (1860-1948) was influential, both as a scientist and as a man.  He was a Greek scholar, linguist, naturalist and mathematician.  In 1917 his most famous work, On Growth and Form, was published, the thesis being that biological form largely reflects physical and mathematical principles.  To this day, his ideas continue to be influential.  He was also an interesting and colourful individual in many ways, known as a bon viveur, a lover of wine, women and song, while his favourite phrase was “I must dance just once more before I die!”

Mr Matthew Jarron (museum curator) and Mrs Cathy Caudwell (zoology curator) were happy to show the Minister around the museum with its many points of interest and invaluable exhibits including a very large Japanese spider crab brought back by D’Arcy in 1897, a king penguin donated by Sir Ernest Shakleton in 1910, an African mountain gorilla skeleton and a pair of extinct New Zealand Huia birds which were regarded as sacred in the Maori culture.

Ms Hyslop said: "Professor Sir D'Arcy Thompson was one of the intellectual giants of the modern age and his scientific discoveries made a valuable contribution to our understanding of the world. It is important that we remember and celebrate Scotland's great minds and innovations. So, I am glad to see Dundee marking this anniversary and telling the story of this great man."

(Fiona Hyslop, Matthew Jarron and Cathy Caudwell pictured above).