An Interactive Annotated World Bibliography of Printed and Digital Works in the History of Medicine and the Life Sciences from Circa 2000 BCE to 2022 by Fielding H. Garrison (1870-1935), Leslie T. Morton (1907-2004), and Jeremy M. Norman (1945- ) Traditionally Known as “Garrison-Morton”

16018 entries, 14076 authors and 1941 subjects. Updated: July 14, 2024

OWEN, Sir Richard

19 entries
  • 325

Memoir on the pearly nautilus (Nautilus pompilius, Linn.).

London: W. Wood & Co., 1832.

Subjects: BIOLOGY, BIOLOGY › Marine Biology, COMPARATIVE ANATOMY, ZOOLOGY › Illustration, ZOOLOGY › Malacology
  • 326

Descriptive and illustrated catalogue of the physiological series of comparative anatomy contained in the Museum [of the Royal College of Surgeons of England]. 5 vols.

London: R. & J. E. Taylor, 18331840.

 I. Organs of motion and digestion. 1833.--II. Absorbent, circulating, respiratory, and urinary systems. 1834.--III. pt. I. Nervous system and organs of sense. pt. II. Connective and tegumentary systems and peculiarities. 1836.--IV. Organs of generation. 1838.--V. Products of generation. 1840. 

When John Hunter died his museum was cared for by his faithful assistant and amanuensis, the artist and anatomist, William Clift, who persuaded the Government to purchase it. Richard Owen later became curator and his monumental catalogue is still of value today. A history of the museum from its foundation to its partial destruction by a high-explosive bomb in May 1941, is given in G. Grey Turner’s Hunterian Museum, 1946.

Subjects: COMPARATIVE ANATOMY, MUSEUMS › Medical, Anatomical & Pathological
  • 5337

Description of a microscopic entozoon infesting the muscles of the human body.

Lond. med. Gaz., 16, 125-127; Trans. zool. Soc. Lond., 1, 315-24, 1835.

While a first-year student at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, James Paget discovered trichina in muscle during dissection. Richard Owen, his teacher, named it Trichina spiralis and published an account, barely mentioning Paget. It was renamed Trichinella spiralis in 1896. Paget communicated his discovery to the Abernethian Society at St. Bartholomew’s on 6 Feb, 1835; an abstract of his paper is published in the Transactions of the society, vol. 2. Paget recorded the chronology of the discovery in a letter to the Lancet, 1866, 1, 269. This and his unpublished article intended for Lond. med. Gaz., 1835, is reproduced by Kean (No. 2268.1), p. 458-62. The letter is also published in Bull. Hist. Med., 1979, 53, 547.

  • 11763

The zoology of Captain Beechey's voyage; compiled from the collections and notes made by Captain Beechey, the officers and naturalist of the expedition, during a voyage to the Pacific and Behring's Straits performed in His Majesty's Ship Blossom, under the command of Captain F. W. the years 1825, 26, 27, and 28. By J. Richardson, N.A. Vigors, G.T. Lay, E.T. Bennett, Richard Owen, John E. Gray, Rev. W. Buckland, and G. B. Sowerby. Illustrated with upwards of fifty finely coloured plates by Sowerby.

London: Henry G. Bohn, 1839.

Includes 44 hand-colored plates engraved by J.C. Zeiter and Thomas Landseer after Edward Lear, J. D. C. Sowerby, and J. C. Zeitter,  four hand-colored engraved maps and plans (one folding) after E. Belcher. Digital facsimile from Biodiversity Heritage Library at this link.

Subjects: VOYAGES & Travels by Physicians, Surgeons & Scientists, ZOOLOGY
  • 329
  • 3681.1

Odontography, or, a treatise on the comparative anatomy of the teeth. 2 vols.

London: Hippolyte Baillière, 18401845.

Owen’s first large-scale original work covered the whole range of the toothed vertebrates, living and fossil, and discussed in detail the micrsocopic structure of the teeth and the physiology of dentition. Includes 168 plates. His comprehensive investigation of the morphology of mammalian teeth led him into palaeontology, of which he soon became one of the masters. Owen, son-in-law of William Clift, was from 1836-56 Hunterian professor at the Royal College of Surgeons. During the 1860s he was one of the most virulent opponents of Darwinism. Some copies of this work were issued on large paper.

Subjects: COMPARATIVE ANATOMY, DENTISTRY › Comparative Anatomy of the Mouth, Teeth & Jaws
  • 7437

The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, under the command of Captain Fitzroy, R. N., during the years 1832 to 1836. Edited by Charles Darwin. 5 pts in 3 vols.

London: Smith, Elder, 18401843.

Part 1: Fossil mammalia by Richard Owen; Part 2: Mammalia by George Waterhouse; Part 3: Birds by John Gould; Part 4: Fish by Leonard Jenyns; Part 5: Reptiles by Thomas Bell. Digital facsimile from the Internet Archive at this link.


Subjects: COUNTRIES, CONTINENTS AND REGIONS › Ecuador, EVOLUTION, NATURAL HISTORY, VOYAGES & Travels by Physicians, Surgeons & Scientists, ZOOLOGY, ZOOLOGY › Herpetology, ZOOLOGY › Ichthyology, ZOOLOGY › Mammalogy, ZOOLOGY › Ornithology
  • 13694

Report on British fossil reptiles. Part II. In: Report of the eleventh meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Plymouth, July 1841, pp. 60-204.

London: John Murray, 1841.

In this review article Owen coined the term Dinosaur (pp. 102-103). In surveying fossil bones and teeth found by Gideon Mantell, William Buckland, and others, he observed that three genera--Iguanodon, Megalosaurus, and Hylaeosurus--shared similarities in the structure of their vertebrae and elephant-like posture. For this reason Owen classified them as a sub-order in the Saurian order, and called them Dinosauria, meaning terrible lizards. Digital facsimile from Biodiversity Heritage Library at this link.

Subjects: Paleontology
  • 330

On the archetype and homologies of the vertebrate skeleton.

London: J. Van Voorst, 1848.

Owen’s vertebral theory of the origin of the skull, later refuted by Thomas Huxley and others.
"Owen began working systematically on problems of transcendental morphology in 1841, as part of his curatorial task to arrange the osteological collection of the Hunterian Museum. The osteological work was not published until 1853, but in the intervening years various spin-offs of this basic museum work appeared in print. . . . Owen extracted from the catalogue work his comprehensive account of transcendental osteology which he presented to the British Association in the form of a major report (1846); it was enormously detailed, densely packed with specifics, loaded with technical terms, and tedious to read. This report, with some additions, was published in book form under the title On the Archetype and Homologies of the Vertebrate Skeleton (1848). The following year, 1849, Owen expanded upon some parts of his BAAS Report in a lecture at the Royal Institution, published as On the Nature of Limbs. It was less overloaded with anatomical detail and nomenclature than his report, and more accessible to a wider audience" (Rupke, Richard Owen Victorian Naturalist, pp. 163-64)

  • 13704

On parthenogenesis, or the successive production of procreating individuals from a single ovum. A discourse introductory to the Hunterian Lectures on Generation and Development for the year 1849, delivered at the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

London: John van Voorst, 1849.

Digital facsimile from Google Books at this link.

Subjects: EMBRYOLOGY › Parthenogenesis
  • 1126.1

On the anatomy of the Indian rhinoceros (Rh. unicornis L.).

Trans. Zool. Soc. Lond., 4, 31-58, 1852.

Owen was the first to describe the parathyroids, which he observed in his dissection of a Great Indian Rhinoceros that had lived at the Zoological Society of London from 1834 to 1849.  See B. Modarai, A. Sawyer, & H. Ellis, "The Glands of Owen," Journal Royal Society of Medicine 97 (2004) 494-495.


Subjects: COMPARATIVE ANATOMY, Ductless Glands: Internal Secretion › Thyroid, Parathyroids
  • 13860

Descriptive catalogue of the osteological series contained in the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. 2 vols.

London: Printed by Taylor and Francis, 1853.

Digital facsimile from at this link.

Subjects: ANATOMY › Comparative Anatomy, MUSEUMS › Medical, Anatomical & Pathological
  • 13862

Descriptive and illustrated catalogue of the fossil organic remains of mammalia and aves contained in the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

London: Printed by Taylor and Francis, 1855.

Digital facsimile from Biodiversity Heritage Library at this link.

Subjects: MUSEUMS › Medical, Anatomical & Pathological
  • 7608

Essays and observations on natural history, anatomy, physiology, psychology, and geology by John Hunter, F.R.S. Being his posthumous papers on those subjects, arranged and revised, with notes; to which are added the introductory lectures on the Hunterian collection of fossil remains delivered in the theatre of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, March 8th, 10th and 12th, 1855 by Richard Owen .... 2 vols.

London: John van Voorst, 1861.

Digital facsimiles from the Hathi Trust at this link.

  • 14045

On the extent and aims of a national museum of natural history.

London: Saunders, Otley & Co., 1862.

Owen was the prime mover behind the construction of the Natural History Museum, a project that occupied him for over two decades. His On the Extent and Aims of a National Museum of Natural History, containing the text of his lecture delivered before the Royal Institution in April 1861, was part of his long campaign to obtain political backing for the South Kensington Museum.

After Owen's appointment as superintendent of the Natural History department of the British Museum in 1856, dissatisfied with the cramped and disorganized confines of the existing British Museum (located in Bloomsbury), Owen began lobbying for a "separate but unified national museum of natural history . . . to represent the three kingdoms of nature" (Rupke, p. 34), to be housed in a building spacious enough to display even the largest specimens of both living and fossil species. The project did not really get off the ground until October 1861, when "manipulated future Prime Minster Gladstone into the opinion that the current exhibition facilities for the Natural History Department of the British Museum were inadequate for their task. Owen cultivated Gladstone's support in order to bring the issue before Parliament once the Trustees of the British Museum fell into agreement with his extravagant plans for building not just more display space, but an entirely new building to house the natural history collection (Johnson-Roehr, "The Natural History Museum-London" [internet reference]).

After much heated debate, Owen's plan was approved and the South Kensington museum, designed by Albert Waterhouse, began construction in 1873. The building was completed by late 1879, and the museum opened its doors to the public in 1881. The social and cultural impact of Owen's Natural History Museum cannot be overestimated: Bill Bryson, in his Short History of Nearly Everything (2003), stated that "by making the Natural History Museum an institution for everyone, Owen transformed our expectations of what museums are for" (p. 81).

Digital facsimile from Google Books at this link.

Subjects: MUSEUMS › Natural History Museums / Wunderkammern
  • 12657

Monograph on the Aye-Aye (Chiromys madagascariensis, Cuvier).

London: Printed by Taylor and Francis, 1863.

For the first 100 years after the first aye-aye was brought to Europe from Madagascar in the 1780s, debate persisted over whether it was a rodent, a primate, or most closely related to the kangaroo. Classification of the Aye-Aye remained debatable because of the aye-aye’s odd  combination of behavioral and morphological traits: continuously growing front teeth, batlike ears, a foxlike tail, abdominal mammary glands, claws on most digits, and spindly, dexterous middle fingers. It uses its middle finger to tap along a branch and moves its ears forward and back to help locate hollow channels within the wood created by wood-boring insect larvae. Once it detects a channel, the aye-aye uses its specialized front teeth to pry open the wood and then inserts one of its fingers to extract the larvae.

All of these unique specialized features caught the attention of comparative anatomist Richard Owen who presented the evidence for classifying the Aye-Aye as a primate in this monograph that is beautifully illustrated by Joseph Wolf.

Digital facsimile from Google Books at this link.

Subjects: COUNTRIES, CONTINENTS AND REGIONS › Madagascar, ZOOLOGY › Mammalogy › Primatology
  • 7612

Memoir on the Gorilla (Troglodytes Gorilla, Savage).

London: Printed by Taylor and Francis, 1865.

This reset monograph version of Owen's paper consists of revised and augmented portions of Owen's "Contributions to the natural history of the Anthropoid Apes," which appeared in the Transactions of the Zoological Society of London as follows:--Pp. 1-21 in Contrib. VIII, Trans. Zool. Soc., Vol. V, 1865 (1866), pp. 243-260; pp. 21-30 in Contrib. IV, op. cit. iv, 1853 (1862), pp. 77-86; and pp. 30-52 in Contrib. VIII, op. cit. V, 1865 (1866), pp. 260-281. The monograph represents a high point in Owen's long series of studies on the primates. It includes Owen’s “most elaborate defence” of the position he had taken in the infamous “hippocampus debate” with Thomas Huxley, in which Huxley publicly challenged Owen’s claim that man’s brain differed qualitatively from those of all other primates (and indeed, all other mammals). Rupke, Richard Owen: Victorian Naturalist, pp. 290-291.

Digital facsimile from the Internet Archive at this link.

Subjects: ZOOLOGY › Illustration, ZOOLOGY › Mammalogy › Primatology
  • 336

On the anatomy and physiology of the vertebrates. 3 vols.

London: Longmans, Green, 18661868.

Vol. 1. Fishes and reptiles; Vol. 2. Birds; Vol. 3. Mammals. The most important work on the subject after Cuvier, based entirely on personal observations.

Owen entitled his 40th and concluding chapter "Derivative hypothesis of life and species." Despite the major role he played in the mid-nineteenth century debate over evolution, Owen never wrote a major treatise on the subject, and this 40-page chapter represents his longest and most detailed statement of his position concerning the theory of evolution by natural selection. Contrary to popular belief, Owen was not an anti-evolutionist, but he held that Darwinian natural selection did not satisfactorily explain the process of speciation. Owen instead theorized that new species arose from “an innate tendency to deviate from parental type, operating through periods of adequate duration” (Derivative Hypothesis, p. 22). Owen believed that evolution was a teleological rather than an unguided process, “a movement towards a pre-ordained goal; and mutations were not randomly useful or useless, but a logical embroidering on the [fundamental] archetype” (Rupke, Richard Owen, pp 248-49).

  • 14028

Experimental physiology: Its benefits to mankind, with an address on unveiling the statue of William Harvey at Folkestone 6th August 1881.

London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1882.

A little-known historical work on the history of physiology and the history of medicine by Owen, who, even though he was trained in medicine, most often wrote on topics in comparative anatomy, zoology, paleontology and evolution. Digital facsimile from the at this link.

  • 7611

The Hunterian Lectures in comparative anatomy May-June, 1837. Edited, and with an introductory essay and commentary by Phillip Reid Sloan.

Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1992.