Smith, Frederick (1805-1879)

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Frederick Smith
Born 1805
London, England
Died 1879 (aged 73)
London, England
Nationality British


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

This synopsis is derived from Dunning, 1879 and Anonymous, 1879. Frederick Smith was born in London in 1805. After school days he was an apprentice of a well known landscape engraver and shared an apartment with William Shuckard, another eminent entomologist and his life long friend. In these early days neither of them exhibited an interest in insects. After Shuckard returned to his home town he had been spending his time "rambling over the downs" and on one of his excursions caught Cicindela campestris, a tiger beetle. Amazed by its beauty, he turned his attention to insects and after seeing bees burrowing in sand he purchased Kirby's Monographia Apum Angliae. From this time he devoted all his energies to studies of the Hymenoptera. Shuckard talked his friend over and soon young Frederick Smith became a zealous collector and observer of bees, ants, and beetles, quickly becoming well acquainted with British fauna. In 1841 at the age of 36, Frederick was appointed the Curator of the Collections and Library of The Entomological Society of London but engraving continued to be his profession. After a vacancy was created in the Zoology Department of the British Museum in 1849 Frederick became engaged in arranging the Hymenoptera collection and soon was a regular employee at the Museum. Abandoning his art profession for science Frederick still continued engraving for British Museum Catalogues of Hymenoptera and all illustrations of his own papers were executed by himself.


The first of his observations published in 1837 concerned the natural history of an oak gall wasp, followed by notes on habits of British ants. These were soon followed by a stream of papers, unceasing until the time of his death. Smith published widely on hymenopterous insects of the British Isles as well as on exotic fauna. He was the person to describe and monograph bees and ants collected by Alfred Russel Wallace during his voyages in Southeast Asia.


Elected as the President of the Entomological Society (1862-1863), repeatedly Vice-President of the Society, eventually appointed as Assistant Keeper of Zoology at the Museum, and publishing more than a hundred and fifty entomological papers, he became a successful man at his new profession.


Frederick died at the age of seventy three of complications after lithotripsy, i.e., breaking gall stones, in his time a very painful surgery performed by crude instruments.


Frederick Smith was the first entomologist to publish descriptions of more than a hundred ant species that still hold validity. Totaling 702 new species and subspecies names, of which 489 are still valid, 209 became junior synonyms and four are deemed unavailable. He described 25 new ant genera, of which 16 still stand. Among these, there are well known genera of ants such as Oecophylla, and Polyrhachis, both described from material brought to England by A. R. Wallace. Cataulacus, Cerapachys, Paraponera, Strumigenys, and Tetraponera are examples of large or otherwise known genera Smith named.


ANT TAXONOMY

Frederick Smith worked in the zoology department of the British Museum from 1849, specialising in the Hymenoptera. In 1875 he was promoted to Assistant Keeper of Zoology. His publications included Catalogue of Hymenopterous Insects (7 parts, 1853-1859) and parts 5 (1851) and 6 (1852) of the Nomenclature of Coleopterous Insects.


Frederick Smith published from 1851 to 1879 on ant taxonomy. During the 28 years of his activity, he described 25 genera, 702 species and subspecies all of whic hare referenced in the list below.

Most of Smith's types and ant collections from Neotropics are deposited in The Natural History Museum, London (BMNH). Most of the Asian material is in the Hope Entomological Collections of the University Museum, Oxford (OXUM) (Brandão, 2000).

Notes on F. Smith Ant Type-Material by Barry Bolton

PUBLICATIONS

  • Smith, F. 1859b ("1858"). Catalogue of British fossorial Hymenoptera, Formicidae, and Vespidae, in the collection of the British Museum. London: British Museum, 236 pp.
  • Smith, F. 1871b. A catalogue of the aculeate Hymenoptera and Ichneumonidae of India and the Eastern Archipelago. [concl.] J. Linn. Soc. Lond. Zool. 11:349-415.

REFERENCE

  • Anonymous. 1879. The Chairman's Address. Proceedings of the Royal Entomological Society of London, ??: lxiv-lxvi.
  • Brandão, C. R. F. 2000. Major regional and type collections of ants (Formicidae) of the world and sources for the identification of ant species. Pp. 172-185 in: Agosti, D., Majer, J. D., Alonso, L. E., Schultz, T. R. (eds.) Ants. Standard methods for measuring and monitoring biodiversity. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, xix + 280 pp.
  • Dunning J.W. 1879. Frederick Smith. The Entomologist, 12(191): 89-92.
AUTHORS: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z