Welsh History Heroes
We’re celebrating some of our Welsh History Heroes on St David’s Day: See who’s there!
German explorer, Alexander von Humboldt, was described by Charles Darwin as ‘the greatest scientific traveller, who ever lived’. Humboldt was a naturalist. He was fascinated by plants, shells and insects from an early age. He began travelling when young and soon had become friends with the great British naturalist & President of the Royal Society, Sir Joseph Banks.
Humboldt travelled far and wide. He was an intrepid explorer of South America. He climbed the Andes in 1800 and mapped over 1700 miles of the Orinoco River. He discovered a current in the Pacific, which is now named after him. So are the penguins that were discovered, swimming in that current – Humboldt penguins along with the several species of flora and fauna named after him too. Humboldt’s life as an explorer yielded countless discoveries.
Humboldt can also be described as a visionary. He discovered similarities between climate zones across the world. He predicted human-induced climate change. He was the first person to realise that mountain sickness was the result of lack of oxygen at high altitude. Humboldt was seen as one of the greatest explorers and scientists of his age. Strange then, that he is not better known or recognised in history. His discoveries and theories were revolutionary and ground breaking in the first half of the nineteenth century, when he lived.Could it be that Humboldt’s thoughts were so modern in scope that we almost take them for granted now?
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