Ant biologist and biodiversity advocate Edward Osborne Wilson has died aged 92. He was nicknamed “Darwin’s heir”.
The scientist, who died Sunday, December 26, in Massachusetts in the United States, “dedicated his life to studying the natural world and inspiring others to take care of it as he did,” said the foundation that bears his name.
Edward Osborne Wilson, who taught at Harvard University for a long time, has written dozens of books, two of which have won him Pulitzer Prizes: the first for Human nature (published in 1978), the second for The ants (1990), co-authored with Bert Hölldobler.
Time magazine had described him as having had “one of the great careers in science of the 20th century” by highlighting his work of mapping the social behavior of ants, through which he showed that their colonies communicated via a system of. pheromones.
Edward Osborne Wilson ant specialist
But the one who is considered the founding father of sociobiology has also sparked a wave of criticism after suggesting in one of his books that the idea of a biological basis for behavior in animals could be extended to humans.
He was accused of genetic determinism and of justifying injustices. The controversy was such that in 1978, demonstrators came to protest against him at a conference, knocking a pitcher of ice water over his head.
The entomologist, described as a “superstar” of science, remains highly respected. Edward Osborne Wilson is also known for his relentless calls to defend Earth’s ecosystems. “If we do not act quickly to protect global biodiversity, we will soon lose most of the species that make up life on Earth,” said the scientist, quoted on the foundation’s website.
The biologist said he had developed “a special link” with Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, which he helped to save and where a laboratory bearing his name has been opened to study and protect the region’s biodiversity.