Mikhail Aleksandrovich Menzbir

Menzbir, Mikhail Aleksandrovich

 

Born Oct. 23 (Nov. 4), 1855, in Tula; died Oct. 10, 1935, in Moscow. Soviet zoologist. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1929; corresponding member, 1896; honorary member, 1926). Pupil and follower of N. A. Severtsov.

Menzbir graduated from Moscow University in 1878 and became a professor there in 1886. In 1911 he left the university as a protest against the reactionary policies of L. A. Kasso, the minister of public education. From 1911 to 1917 he was a professor at the Moscow Advanced Courses for Women. He returned to Moscow University in 1917, serving as its rector from 1917 to 1919. His principal works are devoted to ornithology, zoogeography, and comparative anatomy. Menzbir’s Birds of Russia (2 vols., 1893-95) and Game and Commercial Birds of European Russia and the Caucasus (2 vols., with atlas, 1900-02) were the first complete summaries of the taxonomy and biology of the birds of Russia. His master’s dissertation “Ornithological Geography of European Russia” (1882) was a classic study on theoretical zoogeography. Menzbir developed the division of the palaearctic into six zoogeographic zones—tundra, taiga, insular (isolated) forests, steppes, coasts and islands, and deserts. He wrote a number of works on the development and popularization of Darwinism. As early as 1882 he published an article on the problems and state of evolutionary theory. From 1925 to 1929 he was the editor of the complete collected works of C. Darwin (4 vols.). In 1927 he published the book Defending Darwin. Menzbir was the president of the Moscow Society of Naturalists from 1915 to 1935. He founded the Moscow school of ornithologists, zoogeographers, and anatomists.

REFERENCES

Pamiati akademika Mikhaila Aleksandrovicha Menzbira. Moscow-Leningrad, 1937.
Portenko, L. A. “Zhizn’ i nauchnyi podvig M. A. Menzbira.”In Trudy problemnykh i tematicheskikh soveshchanii, fasc. 9. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960. Pages 13-22.
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