The contributions of Edward Tyson to brain anatomy in 17th century England

Lawrence KRUGER
Department of Neurobiology, Brain Research Institute; and 17th and 18th Century Study Center, UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA 90095 USA

Edward Tyson (1650-1780), the son of a mayor of the City of Bristol, was proposed as a member of the Royal Society by Robert Hooke the year before receiving his M.D. degree at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in 1680; the same year in which Tyson published the first comprehensive account of the anatomy of a single animal, Phocaena, Anatomy of a Porpess, etc. (London). This milestone work in comparative anatomy correctly enumerates the "land Quadruped" features of this "fish" and provides a description of the brain as well as the auditory system of this cetacean, remarkable for its accuracy and insight. He soon published anatomical papers in the Philosophical Transactions (1682-83) and was active in the Royal Society but became a busy and prominent medical practitioner in London.

His contributions to the comprehensive, huge two volume Systeme of Anatomy (London, 1685) by Samuel Collins is generally unrecognized, although acknowledged by Collins, and includes dissections of the human brain and some insights that guided the development of comparative neurology. He subsequently became the founding pioneer of Physical Anthropology with the publication, under the auspices of the Royal Society, of a treatise entitled Orang-Outgang, sive Homo Sylvestris; or, the Anatomy of a Pygmie compared with that of a Monkey, an Ape, and a Man (London, 1699), containing an account of the dissection of a chimpanzee (correctly identified by Tyson despite the misleading title), including a description and depiction of its brain. The significance of cerebral gyral variation in different animals and in humans of various background and intellectual capacity was considered in anatomical and philosophical contexts that were largely ignored until the Darwinian era.


Session II -- Medieval to 18th Century
Monday, 12 June 2000, 10:30 - 11:00 am

Fifth Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN)

Providence, Rhode Island, USA