Leichhardt: A Scientist in a Strange Land

The scientific legacy of Ludwig Leichhardt

“I’ve had the pleasure of hearing that the Geographical Society in London has awarded me one of its medals, and that the Parisian Geographical Society has conferred a similar honour upon me. Naturally I’m very pleased to think that such discerning authorities consider me worthy of such honours, but whatever I have done has never been for honour. I have worked for the sake of science…and I shall continue to do so...”

Letter from Ludwig Leichhardt to Carl Schmalfuss, 22 Feburary 1848

Leichhardt was an extraordinarily gifted natural scientist and explorer. Like Charles Darwin, only four years his senior, he had an insatiable curiosity and a fine analytical mind. Leichhardt was befriended by a network of amateur naturalists in Australia, using their properties as base camps for months at a time. Leichhardt's expeditions gave us the first scientific sketch maps of an Australia unknown to the colonial settlers.

To mark the bicentenary of Leichhardt’s birth, the Queensland Museum has published a special edition of the Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. The volume includes 123 newly named species from Australia, of which two new genera are named after Leichhardt, as well as 16 new species that have been given Leichhardt’s name.

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Museum information:

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