Thomas Henry Huxley, 1825 - 1895

portrait of Thomas Henry Huxley
From Popular Science Monthly Volume 4 (1874)

Born: 4 May 1825, Ealing, Middlesex, England
Died: 29 June 1895, Eastbourne, Sussex, England

Huxley had only two years of formal schooling but held short apprenticeships with three physicians before spending a year at a low-budget medical school at seventeen; at twenty he won the gold medals for anatomy and physiology in tests at the University of London. He didn't take the final exams that would have allowed him to practice medicine, but convinced the Royal Navy to make him ship's surgeon on a journey into the South Pacific during which he studied and classified marine micro-organisms. On his return he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society based on his research, the following year he was elected to the Council and later served as President. Despite his lack of formal education, he was regarded as the finest comparative anatomist of the age and he had a great influence on the establishment of scientific education. Although he never completely accepted Darwin's theory of natural selection, he was called "Darwin's Bulldog" for his active and effective destruction of all arguments for any other theories. The man who first pointed out the evolutionary relationship between dinosaurs and modern birds coined the word "agnostic" to describe his religious beliefs.

Biography from Wikipedia and Clark University

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