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Malacologists:C.S.Rafinesque

Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz was born on October 22nd 1783 in Galata,a suburb of Istanbul (then Constantinople).In his youth he lived in Marseilles,France where,at the age of 12,he learned himself Latin and built his first herbarium. When he was 19 he left for The United States,but in 1805 he settled himself in Palermo, Italy where he became a successfull merchant selling medicinal plants. He also was the secretary of the American consul. After his wife left him and his son died,Rafinesque left in 1815 again for The United States. The ship he was on sank near Connecticut what caused the loss of all his books(50 boxes)and all his specimens,including 60.000 shells. In New York he became a member of the newly established ‘Lyceum of Natural History’.By 1818, he had collected and named more than 250 new species of plants and animals. Slowly he was rebuilding his collection of specimens. In 1819 he was professor of botany at Transylvania University, Lexington (Kentucky), teaching French and Italian as well.He started at once describing all the new species of plants and animals he encountered. In the spring of 1826 he was dismissed from the university, for either having an apparent affair with the university president's wife or for attending even less classes than his students. He went to Philadelphia giving lectures and publishing new writings mostly paid out of his own pocket. The book Medical Flora, a manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America (1828-1830) became his most important work. In his books which appeared between 1836-1838 he suggested hundreds of new genera and thousands of new species. He died on September 18th,1840 of cancer in Philadelphia.His remains(or what they were supposed to be)were brought to Transylvania University in 1924. His tomb bears the epitaph:A life of travels.

Some snails(genera or families) described by Rafinesque:Campeloma,Mesomphix cupreus,Lymnaeidae,Pleurocera acuta and Helicidae.

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