Carl H. Eigenmann

Carl H. Eigenmann

Eigenmann, Carl H., 1863-1927, American ichthyologist, b. Germany, grad. Indiana Univ., 1886. From 1891 he taught at Indiana Univ., founding and directing the biological station at Winona Lake. With his wife, Rosa Smith Eigenmann (1859-1947), he studied and published much on the fishes of South America. His greatest work was "The American Characinidae" (1917-29 in five parts in the Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoology). He also studied degenerate evolution (in which characteristics that seem to be biologically regressive are inherited when they better enable the organism to survive its environment) in cave-dwelling vertebrates and wrote Cave Vertebrates of North America (1909).
Carl H. Eigenmann (March 9, 1863 - April 24, 1927) was an ichthyologist who, along with his wife Rosa Smith Eigenmann, described many of the fishes of North America and South America for the first time.

Born in Flehingen, Germany, at age 14 he moved to Rockport, Indiana. Within a couple of years he had enrolled at the Indiana University, where he studied under David Starr Jordan. Eigenmann received a bachelor's degree in 1886, and soon after went to California, where he met Rosa Smith, herself already becoming known for her work on West Coast fisheries. They married on August 20, 1887, and then went to Harvard University, where they studied the collections made by Louis Agassiz and Franz Steindachner, and produced the first of a series of joint publications.

They moved to San Diego, California in 1888, where he worked as curator of a natural history society, and helped found the San Diego Biological Laboratory. He received his PhD from Indiana in 1889, and took up a professorship of zoology there in 1891. In 1892, famed scientist Albert C. L. G. Günther financed Eigenmann's first expedition, a trip throughout western North America where many new species were collected. Subsequent explorations focussed on the blind fishes and salamanders of caves in Indiana, then in the caves of Texas, Missouri, and Cuba.

After a trip to the University of Freiburg in 1906-7, in 1908 Eigenmann became the dean of Indiana's graduate school. In the same year he secured support from the Carnegie Museum for a trip to South America, and in September 1908 the Carnegie British Guiana Expedition got underway. They returned with 25,000 specimens, resulting in the description of 128 new species and 28 new genera. Subsequent trips went to Colombia (1912) and the Andes (1918). Rosa continued to collaborate with him during the Indiana years, but less frequently; of their five children, one daughter was disabled and a son was eventually institutionalized, a burden that was mostly borne by Rosa.

Eigenmann's later years were spent writing up reports on his previous expeditions, and assisting younger colleagues in mounting their own trips. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1923.

When Carl suffered a stroke in 1927, the family returned to San Diego. He died in April 1927.

Eigenmann Hall

In 1970, a newly constructed residence hall building on Indiana University Bloomington campus, designed by Eggers & Higgins to be one of the tallest buildings in town, was named after Carl H. Eigenmann. Until 1998, the residence hall was reserved for the graduate students, as well as other students who were either over 21 or admitted as foreign students. Since 1998, Eigenmann Residence Center houses American undergraduates as well.


Search another word or see Carl H. Eigenmannon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature