William Orville Ayres

William Orville Ayres

William Orville Ayres (September 11, 1817 - April 30, 1887) was an American physician and ichthyologist. Born in Connecticut, he studied to become a doctor at Yale University School of Medicine.

Ayres was also interested in natural science, however, particularly in ornithology. He became friends with famed ornithologist and painter John James Audubon, who named a woodpecker (now called the Northern Flicker) after him, mentioning him by name in his "Birds of America":

:I have named this handsome bird after my young and learned friend W. O. AYRES, Esq., who is well known to science as an excellent ichthyologist; and who also is well conversant with the birds of our country. [ [http://www.audubon.org/bird/boa/NSk.html Missouri Red-moustached Woodpecker ] ]

As the first Curator of Ichthyology of the California Academy of Sciences [http://www.calacademy.org/membership/membership.php] , Ayres wrote several many papers on the fish of California, despite poor facilities. In a letter to a colleague at the Smithsonian Institution Ayers pled for support for the fledgling academy:

:I am working along here in the dark as well as I can, with almost nothing in the way of books or means of reference, and what mistakes I make, some of you more advantageously situated must correct. [ [http://www.calacademy.org/calwild/2003spring/stories/earlyyears.html California Wild Spring 2003 - Science Amid the Saloons ] ]

Since there were no established scientific journals available, he turned to local newspapers to publish his descriptions of fish. [ [http://www.calacademy.org/exhibits/150/ichthyology.html California Academy of Sciences - 150th Anniversary Celebration ] ]

In 1882 Ayres wrote an article in "The American Naturalist", "The Ancient Man of Calaveras" about the Calaveras Skull, a human skull purported at the time to have been found in a mine in Calaveras County, California. He defended the claim that the skull was indeed of ancient origin. That the skull was of ancient provenance is now generally believed to have been a hoax.

Ayres's name (cited in Latin as "ayresii") is used in the binomial names of several species of birds and fish.


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  • William Orville Ayres — (* 11. September 1817; † 30. April 1887) war ein US amerikanischer Mediziner und Ichthyologe. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • William Orville Ayres — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Ayres. William Orville Ayres est un médecin et un ichtyologiste américain, né le 11 septembre 1817 à Connecticut et mort le 30 avril 1887. Il fait des études à Yale où il obtient un titre de docteur en médecine.… …   Wikipédia en Français

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