Such expressions as that famous one of Linnæus, and which we often meet with in a more or less concealed form, that the characters do not make the genus, but that the genus gives the characters, seem to imply that something more is included in our classification, than mere resemblance. I believe that something more is included; and that propinquity of descent,—the only known cause of the similarity of organic beings,—is the bond, hidden as it is by various degrees of modification, which is partially revealed to us by our classifications (Darwin, 1859, p. 413f).

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Chris Humphries – Natural History Museum, London (1947—2009)

Chris Humphries, botanist and biogeographer, died on Friday 31st July. Chris was a leading figure in the cladistic revolution in systematics and biogeography. He worked in the Botany Department of the Natural History Museum from 1972 until his retirement in 2007.
Chris was one of the first to explore, develop and promote cladistics in botany, examining classification and biogeography from its novel perspective. Chris produced a classic in biogeography, Cladistic Biogeography (1986) (with Lynne Parenti, of the Smithsonian; a revised 2nd edition appeared in 1999) and produced a widely read and used manual for cladistic systematics, Cladistics: A practical course in systematics (1992) (with staff of the Natural History Museum; a revised 2nd edition appeared in 1998 as Cladistics: the theory and practice of parsimony analysis).
Chris’s research extended from organizing and annotating the first complete full-colour edition of Banks’ Florilegium to addressing conservation issues with WorldMap (with Dick Vane-Wright and Paul Williams, both of the Entomology Department, NHM).
Chris received the Linnean Society’s Bicentenary Medal in 1980 and their Gold Medal in 2001. He was President of the Systematics Association (2001—2003) as well as its Treasurer (1996—1999), and President of the Willi Hennig Society (1989—1991), being elected a Fellow honoris causa in 1998. Chris was also Vice-President and Botanical Secretary of the Linnean Society (1994—1998).

David M. Williams & Charlie Jarvis
Botany Department
The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 5BD