Friday, January 21

Naturalist Edward O. Wilson, ‘the lord of the ants’, dies at 92

Edward O. Wilson, biologist, naturalist and one of the most influential thinkers of our time, has died at the age of 92 in the city of Burlington in Massachusetts (USA). He was known as “Darwin’s natural heir” and affectionately “the lord of the ants” for his pioneering work as an entomologist.

The Foundation that bears his name has reported his death this past Sunday, December 26. EO Wilson (Alabama, 1929 – Massachusetts 2021), was an honorary doctorate from 40 universities, had received the National Medal of Science (United States), the International Prize for Biology (Japan) and the Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, among other 130 recognitions to his career. In Spain, it was awarded the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the category of Ecology and Conservation Biology in 2011.

“It would be difficult to underestimate Ed’s scientific achievements, but his impact extends to all facets of society. He was a true visionary with a unique ability to inspire and galvanize. He articulated, perhaps better than anyone, what it means to be human. His contagious curiosity and creativity have shaped the lives of many people, including my own, and I feel fortunate to have called him a friend, “said David J. Prend, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the EO Wilson Foundation for Biodiversity.

Emeritus Professor at Harvard University, from a very young age he cultivated his love for nature in the marshes and forests of Alabama and in Rock Creek Park in Washington DC He studied at the University of Alabama and, later, at Harvard University where he doctorate in entomology in 1955.

He participated in various expeditions to Cuba, Mexico, the South Pacific, Australia, Fiji, Sri Lanka and later Mozambique. In the 1960s he teamed up with the mathematician and ecologist Robert MacArthur to develop the theory of the equilibrium of species, which resulted in the book The Theory of Insular Biogeography, which has become a standard ecology text and the basis of the scientific principle of “balance of species”.

In 1978 he won his first Pulitzer Prize for publishing On human nature, which dealt with the role of biology in the evolution of human culture. In 1990 the second prize in non-fiction would arrive for Las ants, written with Bert Hölldobler. In 1994 he would publish his autobiography The Naturalist.

“I have thought about what the study of the social behavior of ants can contribute to the study of human behavior since I began to formulate the discipline of Sociobiology, in the seventies. Ants are the animals that have the most complex social structure, apart from us. His study has had an enormous influence on the study of human behavior, “stated Wilson upon receiving the FBBVA Award. “When we have sufficiently unified certain knowledge, we will understand who we are and why we are here.”

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