Edward O Wilson, a US naturalist who is often referred to as the “The Naturalist,” was a man some consider to be the greatest American naturalist. Modern-day DarwinHis foundation released a statement saying that he died Sunday at the age 92 in Massachusetts.
Wilson was considered to be a world-renowned authority on natural history and conservation, along with David Attenborough (British naturalist).
The foundation wrote that EO Wilson was Darwin’s natural heir. He was affectionately known as the ant man because of his pioneering work as an entomologist. It didn’t cite a cause of his death, but stated that a tribute was being planned for 2022.
Wilson’s pioneering work in evolution and ecology was not only his greatest accomplishment, but he also spearheaded a campaign for religious and scientific communities to unite in an odd-couple partnership that he felt offered the best chance to save Earth.
Wilson shared his views in more then 30 books. Two of these books, On Human Nature in 1979 and The Ants 1991, won Pulitzer Prizes. His writing style was more elegant than one might expect from a scientist.
In 2010, he even ventured into fiction with Anthill, a novel about a young boy in Alabama trying to save the marshlands.
Sociobiology: New Synthesis was Wilson’s controversial 1975 work. In it, he argued that all human behavior is a product genetic predetermination and not learned experiences.
He spoke out in favor human nature over nurture and it set off a firestorm. His harshest critics accused him of being racists and sexist.
Wilson was being addressed at a conference when he was being sprayed with water. Wilson later said that it was a matter pride for him to be willing to pursue scientific truth despite such insults.
He was raised a Bible-reading Southern Baptist and then he moved away from the church to study evolution. Wilson would later call himself a provisional deist, someone who accepts the possibility that there is an intelligent force beyond what we currently understand.
He was able to connect science and religion in his 2006 book, The Creation. An Appeal to Save Life on Earth. A series of letters to an imaginary Baptist preacher, in pursuit of an ecological alliance that would save the Earth.
Wilson stated that humanity had to make fundamental changes in its management of the planet during a commencement speech at the University of North Carolina in 2011.
He said that there are stone age emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technology.
Wilson once said that degrading a rainforest for economic gain was similar to burning Renaissance paintings to cook meals.
He received the National Medal of Science (the highest US science honor), and many other awards. Time magazine listed him among the 25 most important Americans in 1995.
He was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on 10 June 1929. After his parents divorced he lived a nomadic existence with his father, an alcoholic accountant who would commit suicide. Wilson was unable to make lasting friendships because of his frequent moves.
Wilson began to see nature as his best friend and spent hours exploring forests, streams, and swamps looking for wildlife. Wilson was a fishing accident in his childhood that led him to myrmecology, which is the study and care of ants. His vision was severely impaired by a fish’s fin, which caused him to lose his ability to see larger animals from afar. Instead, he focused on smaller creatures that were closer to his eyes.
According to Harvard Gazette, Wilson was 13 years old when he discovered the first colony of imported fireants in the US. He also discovered that ants use pheromones to communicate.
Wilson graduated from University of Alabama. He also earned a doctorate at Harvard where he taught for many years.
In his honor, the EO Wilson Biodiversity Foundation (founded in 2005) was established to promote conservation. Wilson fulfilled a dream in 2008, when he founded the Encyclopedia of LifeGo online. A Wikipedia-like website was created to record all 1.9m species on Earth. Darwins Natural Heir was a documentary about Darwin’s life that was created in that year.
Wilson and Irene lived in Lexington, Massachusetts. He had a daughter, Catherine.