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Thomas Say,born on June 27 1787 in Philadelphia was an American naturalist, entomologist, malacologist and carcinologist. He was a taxonomist and is often considered to be the founder of descriptive entomology in the United States. He was the great grandson of John Bartram who was a co-founder of the American Philosophical Society. After starting out as an apothecary he became interested in nature and in 1812 was a charter member and founder of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (ANSP). In 1816 he met Charles Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1846), a French naturalist, malacologist,and ichthyologist who also became a member of the Academy and later its curator, between 1816 and 1824. In 1819-1820, Major Stephen Harriman Long led an exploration to the Rocky Mountains and the tributaries of the Missouri River with Thomas Say as zoologist. The official account of this expedition included the first descriptions of the Coyote, Swift Fox, Western Kingbird, Band-tailed Pigeon, Rock Wren, Say's Phoebe, Lesser Goldfinch, Lark Sparrow, Lazuli Bunting and Orange-crowned Warbler.

Thomas Say travelled on the famous "Boatload of Knowledge" to an utopian society experiment, the "New Harmony Settlement" in Indiana (1826-1834), a venture of Robert Owen. One of the passengers was Lucy Way Sistare, whom Say married secretly near New Harmony on January 4, 1827. She was an artist and illustrator of specimens (such as in the book 'American Conchology') who later became the first female member of the Academy. He was accompanied by Maclure, Lesueur, Francis Neef, an educator, and Gerhard Troost. There he later met another naturalist, Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz (1783-1840). In the settlement of New Harmony, Thomas Say carried on his monumental work describing insects and mollusks, leading to two classic works:

  • American Entomology, or Descriptions of the Insects of North America, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1824-1828.
  • American Conchology, or Descriptions of the Shells of North America Illustrated From Coloured Figures From Original Drawings Executed from Nature, Parts 1 - 6, New Harmony, 1830-1834; Part 7, Philadelphia, 1836.

    Thomas Say died October 10th,1847 in New Harmony. Some snails he described were:Carychium exiguum,Drymaeus multilineatus,Haplotrema concavum and Mesodon clausus.

    Part of this article has been taken from Wikipedia.

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