Huxley, T(homas) H(enry)

Huxley, T(homas) H(enry)

biographical name

(born May 4, 1825, Ealing, Middlesex, Eng.—died June 29, 1895, Eastbourne, Sussex) British biologist. The son of a schoolmaster, he earned a medical degree. After working as a surgeon on a surveying expedition in the South Pacific (1846–50), during which he carried out extensive studies of marine organisms, he taught for many years at the Royal School of Mines in London (1854–85). In the 1850s he established his reputation with his important papers on animal individuality, certain mollusks, the methods of paleontology, the methods and principles of science and science education, the structure and functions of nerves, and the vertebrate skull. He was one of the earliest and strongest supporters of Darwinism; his 1860 debate with Bishop Samuel Wilberforce gained widespread attention. In the 1860s Huxley did valuable work in paleontology and classification, especially classification of birds. Later in life he turned to theology; he is said to have coined the word agnostic to describe his views. Few scientists have been as influential over such a wide field of scientific development and as effective in the total movement of thought and action within their own generation.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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