S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Range, Mr Paul Theodore (geology, meteorology, botany, palaeontology)

Born: 1 May 1879, Luebeck, Germany.
Died: 29 August 1952, Luebeck, Germany.
Mr Paul Theodore Range

Paul Theodore Range, a German geologist, obtained his doctoral degree at the University of Halle, Sachsen, Germany, with a dissertation on Das diluvialgebiet von Luebeck und seine Dryastone... (Leipzig, 1903). He came to German South West Africa (now Namibia) in September 1906 to take up an appointment as government geologist in the southern part of the territory (south of the Tropic of Capricorn), a post he held until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. He was stationed at Luderitz and was mostly concerned with the search for groundwater in the southern half of the territory, which he called Namaland. One of his duties was supervision of the government's drilling programme. However, he found time also to describe the geology of the region in some detail. For example, he recognised the presence of Dwyka tillite and distinguished between the Karoo strata and the similarly undeformed Nama sediments. In 1908 he confirmed the discovery of diamonds at Kolmanskop, near Luderitz. That same year he discovered the Ediacarian fossil fauna in the Kuibis Subgroup of the Nama Group, but his find was only described in 1930, by G.J.E. Gurich*. He also discovered the Gibeon meteorites.

The fossil genus Rangea was named after him. In 1913 he met the botanist Professor Adolf Engler* at Kuibis (about halfway between Keetmanshoop and Luderitz), where he resided at the time, and accompanied him to Luderitz. While traveling about the country he collected over 1900 plants. These he sent to Berlin, where many new species were described from them, but he also kept a personal herbarium.

Range was a prolific writer. From 1907 to 1943 he published more that 60 articles in various German journals dealing with the geology, physical geography, soils, diamonds, minerals, meteorites, fossils, earthquakes, groundwater resources, climate, vegetation, and mining prospects of (mainly southern) Namibia. One of his early papers dealt with "Die Diamantfelder bei Luderitzbucht" (Deutsches Kolonialblatt, 1909). His most important geological publication was probably "Geologie des deutschen Namalandes" (Geology of German Namaland, Beitraege zur geologischen Erforschung der deutschen Schutzgebiete, 1915, 136p, with map). Another long contribution to the same journal, "Ergebnisse von Bohrungen in Deutsch-Suedwest-Afrika" (1915) dealt with the result of the drilling programme. A few of his geological papers were written in English and two of these appeared in the Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa, namely "Sketch of the geology of German Namaqualand" (1910), and "Topography and geology of the German South Kalahari" (1912). He became a member of the Geological Society of South Africa in 1909.

In one of his short, semi-popular articles, "Steinwerkzeuge der Buschleute des Namalandes" (Stone tools of the Bushmen of Namaland, Globus, 1910) he described some unretouched stone flakes. Other articles, published during 1908-1927, dealt with meteorological observations and their interpretation. For example, "Das Klima von Kuibis" (Meteorologische Zeitschrift, 1910) provided a detailed description of the climate of this station on the southern plateau, based on observations during 1908-1909 of air temperature, atmospheric pressure, rainfall, direction and force of surface winds, and cloudiness. Many years later an update with the same title, based on meteorological observations to 1914, was published in the Annalen der Hydrographie und maritimen Meteorologie (1942). A more comprehensive geographical publication was his "Beitraege und Ergaenzungen zur Landeskunde des deutschen Namalandes" (Contributions and supplements to the geography of German Namaland, Abhandlungen hamburgisches Kolonialinstitut, 1914, 120p).

In 1912-1913 Range was appointed by the University of the Cape of Good Hope as an examiner of a DSc thesis submitted by Willem Versfeld* on The geological structure of portions of German South West Africa. During World War I (1914-1918) Range did military service in France and in the Middle East. Later he published two reports on the palaeontology and palaeogeography of Palestine (1922, 1926). He had left his personal herbarium in Namibia and in 1920 it was acquired by the South African Museum, Cape Town. Range travelled widely in Europe and visited Namaland again in 1929, when he collected a further 200 or so plants. That same year he attended the International Geological Congress in Pretoria. A few years later he started publishing his botanical observations in a series of 13 articles entitled "Die Flora des Namalandes" in Fedde's Repertorium specierum novarum regni vegetabilis (1932-1938). He listed the many species he had collected, mentioned many little-known collectors, and described the climate, plant geographical regions and nature of the flora. Several plant species were named after him, including Zygophyllum rangei, Elephantorrhiza rangei and Pteronia rangei.

List of sources:
Bullock, A.A. Bibliography of South African botany (up to 1951). Pretoria: Department of Agricultural Technical Services, 1978.

Gesamtverzeichnis des deutschsprachigen Schrifttums (GV), 1700-1910 and 1911-1965. M?nchen: K.G. Saur, 1979-1987 and 1976-1981.

Geological Society of South Africa. Transactions (and Proceedings), 1915, Vol. 18, list of members.

Goodwin, A.J.H. A commentary upon South African prehistory... Bantu Studies, 1935, Vol. 9, pp. 291-333; bibliography pp. 387-413.

Gunn, M. & Codd, L.E. Botanical exploration of southern Africa. Cape Town: Balkema, 1981.

Hoal, B.G., Hugo, P.J. & Schalk, K.E.L. Geological survey of Namibia. In C.R. Anhaeusser (ed.), A century of geological endeavour in southern Africa, 1895-1995 (pp. 358-365). Johannesburg: Geological Society of South Africa, 1997.

Hugo, P.J., Schalk, K.E.L. & Barnes, S.J. Bibliography of South West African / Namibian earth science. Windhoek: Geological Survey, 1983.

Logan, R.F. Bibliography of South West Africa: Geography and related fields. Windhoek: SWA Scientific Society, 1969.

MacRae, C. Life etched in stone: Fossils of South Africa. Johannesburg: Geological Society of SA, 1999.

National Union Catalogue, pre-1956 imprints. London: Mansell, 1968-1980.

Schneider, G.I.C. The history of the Geological Survey of Namibia. Communications of the Geological Survey of Namibia, 2000, Vol. 12, pp. 1-14.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.

University of the Cape of Good Hope. Calendar, 1913/4, 1914/5.

Venter, R.J. Bibliography of regional meteorological literature. Vol. 1. Southern Africa, 1486-1948. Pretoria: Weather Bureau, 1949.

Compiled by: C. Plug