S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Simon, Mr Eugene (invertebrate zoology)

Born: 30 April 1848, Paris, France.
Died: 17 November 1924, Paris, France.

Eugène Simon, French zoologist, specialised in the study of the Arachnida (a class of mainly terrestrial Arthropoda including the spiders, scorpions, mites and ticks) and more specifically the order Araneida (or Araneae - spiders). Between 1866 and 1900 he produced around 180 publications, in French, describing new species and working out the classification of spiders and other Arachnidae. His work included papers on the arachnids collected in southern Africa by Dr Hans Schinz* (Annales de la Societé entomologique de France, 1887), the cave arthropods of the Transvaal (ibid,1894, 1896), description of a new spider living in ants' nests in the Cape Colony and named Andromma raffrayi after Mr Achille Raffray* (ibid, 1899), arachnids collected in South Africa by Dr Arnold Penther* (Bulletin de la Societé zoologique de France, 1896), and an account of the spiders collected by Professor Leonhard S. Schultze* in Namibia and published in the latter's Zoologische und anthropologische Ergebnisse... (1910). His books included Les arachnides de France, published in several volumes from 1874 onwards, and his monumental Histoire naturelle des Araignées (1892-1903). The latter work comprised two volumes of more than 1000 pages each and contained the first complete taxonomic framework to accomodate the known genera and families of spiders. It has been called the Bible of Araneology, and its auther the "father" of the subject (Lawrence, 1977). Simon went on expeditions throughout the world in search of specimens, visiting among other regions Venezuela (1887-1888), Australia and the Malay Peninsula (about 1895), and amassed a large spider collection. The spider genus Simonida (family Hahniidae) was named after him.

Simon spent some time in South Africa in 1893. That year he presented four beetles, three from the Transvaal and one from Hebron, Cape Colony, to the South African Museum. He also made a small collection of beetles of the family Melyridae, which he took with him to France. These were described by E. Abeille de Perrin in the Revue d'Entomologie (1900). Of the 22 species collected, 21 turned out to be as yet undescribed. They were placed in seven genera, of which three were also new.

At the age of 73 Simon published Histoire naturelle des Trochilidae (Paris, 1921, 416p), a book on Humming birds.

List of sources:
Cape of Good Hope. Report of the Trustees of the South African Museum, 1893.

Debus, A.G. (ed.) World who's who in science. Chicago: Marquis, 1968.

Dippenaar-Schoeman, A.S. & Jocqué, R. African spiders: An identification manual. Pretoria: Plant Protection Research Institute, 1997.

Lawrence, R.F. Insects, arachnids and peripatus. In A.C. Brown (ed.), A history of scientific endeavour in South Africa (pp. 109-131). Cape Town: Royal Society of South Africa, 1977.

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

Royal Society of London. Catalogue of scientific papers [1800-1900]. London: Royal Society, 1867-1925.

Summaries of some recent botanical and zoological papers referring to South Africa. Transactions of the South African Philosophical Society, 1902, Vol. 11(4), pp. 383-418.

Compiled by: C. Plug