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Armand David: a french missionary in China

Posted by Jeroen Jacobs | Date: 2012 01 05 | In: Giant Panda News

Did you know that it was a french missionary who discovered the giant panda?
It was Armand David who introduced the giant panda to the Western world.

Here is some info about Armand David:

Born in Ezpeleta near Bayonne, in the north of Basque Country, in Pyrénées-Atlantiques département of France, he entered the Congregation of the Mission in 1848, having already displayed great fondness for the natural sciences. Ordained in 1862, he was shortly afterwards sent to Beijing, where he began a collection of material for the museum of natural history in Paris, mainly zoological, but in which botany, geology, and palaeontology were also well represented.

At the request of the French government, important specimens from his collection were sent to Paris and aroused the greatest interest. The Jardin des Plantes commissioned him to undertake scientific journeys through China to make further collections. He succeeded in obtaining many specimens of hitherto unknown animals and plants, and the value of his comprehensive collections for the advance of systematic zoology and especially for the advancement of animal geography received universal recognition from the scientific world.
Father David summed up his labours in an address delivered before the International Scientific Congress of Catholics at Paris in April 1888. He had found in China all together 200 species of wild animals, of which 63 were hitherto unknown to zoologists, and 807 species of birds, 65 of which had not been described before. He made a large collection of reptiles, batrachians, and fishes and handed it over to specialists for further study. Also a large number of moths and insects, many of them hitherto unknown, were brought to the museum of the Jardin des Plantes. What Father David’s scientific journeys meant for botany may be inferred from the fact that among the rhododendrons which he collected no less than fifty-two new species were found and among the primulae about forty, while the Western Mountains of China furnished an even greater number of hitherto unknown species of gentian.

The most remarkable of the animals found by David which were the Père David’s Deer and ofcourse the giant panda! It was in 1869, David went into the deep encircling mountains of Baoxing County in Sichuan Province. It was here that he discovered the giant panda. The first specimen he met was sent to the natural history museum of Paris, France.

Source: wikipedia

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