As an enthusiastic naturalist for more than forty years, I have long been familiar with Alexander von Humboldt, a famous German naturalist (1769-1859) who is best known for his exploration of South America. I have also been aware that a number of natural features, landscapes and species have been named in his honor; the cold Humboldt Current sweeps northward along the coasts of Chile and Peru, Humboldt penguins and Humboldt squid inhabit these rich ocean waters and, in my own country, Humboldt Peak, the Humboldt Range, the Humboldt River and the Humboldt Sink occupy northern Nevada.
My cursory knowledge of this renowned explorer and scientist will be greatly expanded over the next week or so as I read The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf, a biography of Humboldt's life, travels, discoveries and philosophy. Having read several positive reviews of this book, I purchased a copy with a gift card from my daughter and I look forward to the adventure ahead.
Indeed, fueled by our personal interests, we become generally familiar with individuals who laid the groundwork for the passion that we experience today; yet, until we take the time to fully explore their lives, we cannot fully appreciate their influence. Beyond his courageous travels and meticulous documentation, Alexander von Humboldt extended the gift of his intellect and his naturalist philosophy, introducing mankind to the interdependence and interconnection of ecosystems across our planet. More on the book's revelations in future posts.