Sahni, Birbal

Sahni, Birbal


Born Nov. 14, 1891, in Bhera; died Apr. 10, 1949, in Lucknow. Indian paleobotanist. Member of the Academy of Sciences of India (president in 1937–38 and 1942–44) and the Royal Society of London (from 1936).

Sahni graduated from Cambridge University in 1914. In 1921 he was made a professor at the University of Lucknow, where he founded a paleobotanical institute, which now bears his name. Sahni founded the Indian Paleobotanical Society in 1946.

Sahni’s major works were devoted to the fossil plants of eastern and southern Asia and to the phylogeny and systematics of the Pteridophyta and Gymnospermae. Of particular note were his discovery of the Pentoxylales group and his development of the concept of periodic revolutionary transformations in the history of organic life on earth.


Mahadevan, C. “Professor Birbal Sahni.” Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences, 1950, vol. 31, no. 6.
Thomas, H. H. “Birbal Sahni.” Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society, 1950, vol. 7, no. 19.