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On June 21, 1868, English zoologist Edwin Stephen Goodrich was born. As a promising student at the Slade School of Art, Goodrich became interested in zoology eventually specializing in comparative anatomy – a study that uses the data and achievements of anatomy, embryology, and paleontology. Specifically interested in marine organisms, he studied these first hand on locations from Plymouth to Bermuda, from Europe to the Americas.

Comparing anatomical features between species, Goodrich brought new understanding and order to the significance of many features and similar functions between species. One of his studies focused on tube structures found in animals that connect the centre of an animal body to the outside of the body. He clarified how the same organ in different animals might arise from different segments of the body; for example, fins and vertebrate limbs. Goodrich enabled classification of scale structures of fossil and living fish that have also come to serve paleontologists as a valuable tool in the dating of paleogeologic strata containing these small structures.

A former Fellow of the Royal Society, Department Head of Zoology, and Linacre Professor of Zoology, University of Oxford, Goodrich is considered by many to be the greatest of British comparative anatomists. He served 25 years as an editor of the Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science, now The Journal of Cell Science.

Goodrich’s love of art and his drawing skills never failed him. His detailed illustrations often accompanied his work in publication and students even photographed some of his drawings on college chalkboards. One of Goodrich’s books, Studies on The Structure and Development of Vertebrates, is still considered one of the great reference works of vertebrate comparative anatomy.

Man surrounded by illustrations of various skeletons
Professor Edwin S. Goodrich and some of his hundreds of detailed illustrations

One of the Board directors of The Roberta Bondar Foundation fondly recalled receiving this book as a teenager for a school prize. Dr. Betty Roots, distinguished scientist, elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Department of Zoology at the University of Toronto, kept Goodrich’s work with her most important reference tools.

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