Aleksei Fedchenko

Fedchenko, Aleksei Pavlovich

 

Born Feb. 7 (19), 1844, in Irkutsk; died Sept. 3 (15), 1873, on a glacier of Mont Blanc, in the Alps. Russian naturalist and explorer of Middle Asia.

Fedchenko graduated from Moseow University in 1864. He assembled a large zoological, chiefly entomological, collection and a herbarium. He was also interested in anthropology and ethnography. In the period 1868–71 he journeyed to the Alai Valley, the first Russian explorer to do so. In the course of his travels, he discovered the Zaalai Range and saw its highest summit—now Lenin’s Peak (7,134 m). Fedchenko drew the first orographic map of the Gissar-Alai mountain system. He believed Highland Asia to be a single geological formation, consisting of a series of parallel latitudinal mountain ranges lying between the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas in the south and the Syr Darya River basin in the north. This concept differed considerably from A. Humboldt’s hypothetical view accepted at the time. Fedchenko substantiated his view by pointing out similarities in biogeographical features and the organic world in various parts of the region. He also elucidated the biology of the Guinea worm (Dracunculus medinensis), a parasitic worm causing diseases among the local population, thereby making possible the adoption of proper measures to combat the pest.

Fedchenko’s chief works were edited and published after his death under the title The Journey to Turkestan of A. P. Fedchenko in five volumes of the Izvestiia obshchestva liubitelei estestvoznaniia (Notes of the Society of Amateur Naturalists, 1872–77; reprinted 1950). The largest mountain glacier in the USSR, located in the Pamirs, is named after Fedchenko.

REFERENCES

Azat’ian, A. A. A. P. Fedchenkogeograf i puteshestvennik. Moscow, 1956. (Contains references.)
Azat’ian, A. A. Vydaiushchiesia issledovateli prirody Srednei Azii (2-ia pol. XIX v.), part 1. Tashkent, 1960.