Peter Simon Pallas

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pallas, Peter Simon


Born Sept. 22, 1741, in Berlin; died there Sept. 8, 1811. Naturalist, geographer, and explorer. Member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences from 1767.

Pallas studied in Germany, the Netherlands, and Great Britain. In 1767 he came to Russia, and from 1768 to 1774 he led an expedition sponsored by the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, traveling through central Russia, the Lower Volga, the Caspian Lowland, the central and southern Urals, and southern Siberia, including Altai, Lake Baikal, and Transbaikalia. He published his findings in Journey Through Various Provinces of the Russian Empire (parts 1–3, 1773–88). In 1793–94, Pallas visited the Volga region and the northern Caucasus and lived for a short time in the Crimea.

During his journeys, Pallas collected geographical, geological, botanical, zoological, and ethnological data, which he later analyzed. He discovered and described many new species of mammals, birds, fish, insects, and other animals, including the lance-let amphioxus, which he classified as a mollusk. He studied the fossil remains of buffaloes, mammoths, and woolly rhinoceroses. Among his important works are The Flora of Russia (parts 1–2, 1784–88) and monographs on plants of the genera Astragalus (milk vetches) and Salsola (saltworts). In his early works, Pallas propounded the idea of the historical development of the organic world, and he was the first to depict the relationships between animals in the form of a genealogical tree. Later, he acknowledged the permanence and immutability of species. A volcano in the Kuril Islands, a reef off New Guinea, and numerous plants and animals have been named in honor of Pallas.


Zoographia Rosso-asiatica, vols. 1–3. St. Petersburg, 1811.


Raikov, B. E. Russkie biologi-evoliutsionisty do Darvina, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1952.
Efremov, lu. K. “P. S. Pallas.” In Otechestvennye fiziko-geografy i pute-shestvenniki. Moscow, 1959. Pages 132–45.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.