Richard W. Thorington

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Richard Wainwright Thorington, Jr. (born December 24, 1937 in Philadelphia - † February 24, 2017 in Bethesda , Maryland ), also known as Dick Thorington , was an American mammal loge . His main research interests were the squirrels and the New World monkeys .


In 1959 Thorington received his Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from Princeton University . In 1963 he graduated with a Master of Arts degree in biology from Harvard University . In 1964 he was with the dissertation The biology of rodent tails: A Study of form and function to the Ph.D. PhD. He then worked as a primatologist at Harvard University Regional Primate Center in Southborough , Massachusetts until 1969 , doing research in the South American rainforest. In 1976, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease with him diagnosed , leading to quadriplegia led and another work in the tropics prevented. From 1969 to 1976 he was assistant curator for mammals at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC In 1976 he took over the management of the mammalogical department, where he curated a collection of 30,000 croissant specimens. Since his retirement in 2009 he has been a curator emeritus. He was succeeded in December 2009 by Kristofer Helgen .

From the early to mid-1970s Thorington was chairman of the Committee on Conservation of Nonhuman Primates, where he was committed to protecting Neotropical primates.

In addition to numerous specialist articles published in the Journal of Mammalogy , the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology and the Journal of Mammalian Evolution , and several books, Thorington was involved in several book chapters. So he was responsible for the standard work Mammal Species of the World from 2005 for the section on the squirrels (Sciuridae). For the six-volume work Mammals of Africa by Jonathan Kingdon from 2013 he wrote the family article about the croissants, the generic article about the sliding bilges ( Idiurus ) as well as several articles. Other fields of research included the giant gliders (Dermoptera), the gliding squirrels (Pteromyini) and the glider (Petauridae). In addition, he participated in paleontological publications, around 1984 with Robert J. Emry in a comparison of the then oldest known squirrel genus Protosciurus and the fossils of Protosciurus jeffersoni , today Douglassciurus jeffersoni , with recently living tree squirrels. In 2007, Emry and his colleague William W. Korth named the fossil Hesperopetes thoringtoni as one of three new species after Richard W. Thorington.

Thorington was a member of the American Society of Mammalogists . He died on February 24, 2017 at the age of 79 from complications from a bacterial blood infection.

Works (selection)

  • Committee on Conservation of Nonhuman Primates , 1973
  • Neotropical Primates: Field Studies and Conservation. National Academy of Sciences , Washington DC, 1976 (with Paul G. Heltne)
  • Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide , 2008 (with Katie E. Ferrell)
  • Squirrels of the World , 2012 (with John L. Koprowski, Michael A. Steele)
  • Gliding Mammals: Taxonomy of Living and Extinct Species , 2012


  • Susan Lumenello: Sciuridae forever Interview with Richard W. Thorington, Jr. In: Alumni Quarterly Colloquy. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences • Harvard University, Winter 2007. pp. 2-3
  • Helen Kafka: Mammals In: Backbone Newsletter of the Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, vol. 23, no.1, January 2010, p. 11
  • Katy June-Friesen: Squirrelologist In: Smithsonian Magazine, March 2007
  • Dick Beyer: Dick Thorington at the Smithsonian In: White Birch Camp Pasquaney Summer 2006, p. 4
  • American Men and Women of Science: The physical and biological sciences , Volume 7; Volume 15, Issue 7, 1982, p. 111 ( online at HighBeam )

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Washington Post: Notable deaths in the Washington area
  2. ^ Robert J. Emry, Richard W. Thorington, Jr .: Descriptive and Comparative Osteology of the Oldest Fossil Squirrel, Protosciurus (Rodentia: Sciuridae). Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology 47, 1982. ( full text ).
  3. ^ Robert J. Emry, William W. Korth: A new genus of squirrel (Rodentia, Sciuridae) from the mid-Cenozoic of North America. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27 (3), 2007; Pp. 693-698. doi : 10.1671 / 0272-4634 (2007) 27 [693: ANGOSR] 2.0.CO; 2 .